Health and Medical History of President

Calvin Coolidge

President #30: 1923-1929
Lived 1872-1933
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Health and Medical History of President

Calvin Coolidge

President #30: 1923-1929
Lived 1872-1933
Lived 1872-1933 2023 1776
Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican-American War
Civil War
Spanish-American War
World War 1
World War 2
Korean War
Viet Nam War
Desert Storm
Bush's Wars

Maladies & Conditions  · much sleep · depression · appetite

Odds & Ends · Doctors · Resources · Cited Sources

Maladies and Conditions
much sleep
Coolidge slept 11 hours a day. He went to bed at 10, got up between 7 and 9, and always took an afternoon nap lasting 2 to 4 hours 1a 2a. Was this a lifelong habit, or was it connected with depression?
Coolidge's 16 year old son Calvin died of sepsis (a bacterial infection) on July 7th, 1924. He had developed a blister on his toe after a game of tennis. A few days later, he was dead. The Democratic national convention, in session at the time, adjourned for the evening after the announcement was made 3a. (Coolidge was a Republican.)

The White House staff expressed different views on Coolidge's reaction. The seamstress observed: "It was the President who showed his grief quite violently, and it was Mrs. Coolidge who restrained her sorrow, except when she was alone" 4a. But from the vantage of the mailroom:

The President suffered a period of utmost despondency without ever permitting anyone on the outside even to attempt to help him. He went about his routine almost as usual, giving no outward sign of what I knew to be a great emotional struggle. He never mentioned the illness or the loss of his son, and never gave me or anyone else a chance to express even a word of sympathy. It made me think he might have been far better off if he could have let some emotion show through, at least for a moment. 5a
Some believe that Coolidge's whole presidency changed after the death of his son. On the personal side, they lived quietly: "Mrs. Coolidge would knit, and the President would sit reading, or playing with the many pets around him" 4b.
The amount of Coolidge's eating, without apparent weight gain, puzzled the White House staff.
He kept nuts around in every room, and nibbled all day long. He kept preserves and crackers in his bedroom, and every morning after his walk, he fixed himself a cheese sandwich. Then he had breakfast." 4c
No wonder he died of a heart attack at a young age (60).
Odds and Ends
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Ampres Series
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Kansas Series
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Signature Series
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Cited Sources
  1. Hoover, Irwin Hood (Ike). 42 Years in the White House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1934.
    a  p.268  b  p.129

    Comment: The Library of Congress contains more of Hoover's first-hand recollections of eight presidents.

  2. Boller, Paul F. Jr. Presidential Anecdotes. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.
    a  p.243
  3. Sobel, Robert. Coolidge: An American Enigma. Washington: Regnery, 1998.
    a  pp.295-299
  4. Parks, Lillian Rogers. My Thirty Years Backstairs at the White House. New York: Fleet Publishing, 1961.
    a  p.187  b  p.189  c  p.186  d  pp.175-176, 178  e  p.184  f  p.180  g  p.181

    Comment: This book stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 26 weeks, prompting Jacqueline Kennedy to require all staff at the White House to sign a pledge agreeing not to write about their experiences (NY Times, page B8, Nov. 12, 1997). Parks's mother, a maid at the White House from 1909-1939, had actually been encouraged by Eleanor Roosevelt to write and publish a memoir (p260).

  5. Smith, Ira R. T.; Morris, Joe Alex. "Dear Mr. President:" The Story of Fifty Years in the White House Mail Room. New York: Julian Messner, 1949.
    a  p.118

    Comment: Ira Smith was a peppery fellow who ran the White House mail room from 1897 to 1948. He started working during the administration of William McKinley and was the only mail room staffer until the volume of mail made it necessary to hire help during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt.

  6. Montgomery-Massingberd, Hugh (ed). Burke's Presidential Families of the United States of America. 2nd ed. London: Burke's Peerage Limited, 1981.
    a  p.461

    Comment: Maps -- in great detail -- the ancestors and descendants of American presidents through Ronald Reagan. They would have had an exhausting time with President Obama's family tree! MORE

Other Sources
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