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Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge
Usage Conditions Apply
Samuel Johnson Woolf, 12 Feb 1880 - 1948
Calvin Coolidge, 4 Jul 1872 - 5 Jan 1933
Charcoal and chalk on paper
Image: 40 × 23 cm (15 3/4 × 9 1/16")
Sheet: 52.8 × 42.8 cm (20 13/16 × 16 7/8")
Mat (Verified): 71.1 × 55.9 cm (28 × 22")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist's daughters, Muriel Woolf Hobson and Dorothy Woolf Ahern
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Object number
Exhibition Label
Coolidge's legendary silence and dry Vermont wit is legendary. His "Silent Cal" sobriquet derived from oft-repeated tales such as his "You lose" response to a woman who bet that she could get more than two words out of him. Coolidge's minimalist approach to conversation reflected his Jeffersonian view that the best government is that which governs least and that "the people of America [should] . . . … work less for the government and more for themselves." Journalist Walter Lippmann wrote of Coolidge, "Inactivity is a political philosophy . . . . with Mr. Coolidge, and nobody should mistake his unflinching adherence to it for a soft and easy desire to let things slide." Samuel Woolf's drawings of Coolidge, which appeared in newspapers and magazines, animated a diffident, reserved president and reflected the artist's feeling that he was "one of the most human people I ever met."
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection