The nation did not know what to make of its new President; Coolidge had not stood out in the Harding administration and many had expected him to be replaced on the ballot in 1924. He appointed C. Bascom Slemp, a Virginia Congressman and experienced federal politician to work jointly with Edward T. Clark, a Massachusetts Republican organizer whom he retained from his vice presidential staff, as Secretaries to the President (a position equivalent to the modern White House Chief of Staff). Although a few of Harding's cabinet appointees were scandal-tarred, Coolidge announced that he would not demand any of their resignations, believing that since the people had elected Harding, he should carry on Harding's presidency, at least until the next election.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Coolidge Becomes President
On August 2, 1923, President Harding died while on a speaking tour in California. Vice-President Coolidge was in Vermont visiting his family home, which had neither electricity nor a telephone, when he received word by messenger of Harding's death. Coolidge dressed, said a prayer, and came downstairs to greet the reporters who had assembled. His father, a notary public, administered the oath of office in the family's parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 am on August 3, 1923; Coolidge then went back to bed. Coolidge returned to Washington the next day, and was re-sworn by Justice Adolph A. Hoehling, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, as there was some confusion over whether a state notary public had the authority to administer the presidential oath.