Calvin Coolidge, Pride of the Amherst College Phi Gamma Delta Chapter

1920 was a very busy year for Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge, a Phi Gamma Delta from Amherst College’s Class of 1895. On April 8, he was one of the speakers at a dinner meeting of the College’s Central Massachusetts Alumni Association that was held at the Tatnuck Country Club in Worcester. The Governor spoke on the necessity of developing character in modern education.

The Republican National Convention took place in Chicago from June 8-12. Governor Coolidge rose to national prominence in his handling of the 1919 Boston Police Strike. Although he was never in serious contention for the Presidential nomination, he became the Vice Presidential candidate; the delegates chose him over Wisconsin Senator Irving Lenroot, the favorite of the party bosses.

According to newspaper accounts, an hour after the balloting was successful, the bell at the Edwards Congregational Church in Northampton, the church the Coolidge family attended, proclaimed the news. The streets soon filled with people, “everyone buzzing, all eager with the news.”

A few days later, Governor Coolidge left Boston to travel to Amherst for the 25th reunion of his class and the 99th anniversary of the college. Massachusetts residents turned out to meet him along the way. They decorated the buildings with bunting, and “his picture flashed out everywhere.  Bands and fife and drum corps blared and squeaked and boomed. The College glee club sang. A parade thumped the pavement. And when Governor Coolidge came to his journey’s end at Amherst, it was an ovation.”

During the visit, he dined with the Class of 1895 in Springfield. The next day, a reception in his honor was held at the home of the Alpha Chi Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta. Invitations had been sent to the faculty, other fraternities, alumni, students and Amherst residents. According to reports, “more than 1,500 persons filed past the then Governor of Massachusetts, who had taken his position in the living room of the colonial home.”

Governor Coolidge also took part in several other Commencements that June. He delivered the principal address at Williams College, Wesleyan University, Bates College and Vermont University. He was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. by the last three institutions as well as his Alma Mater.

To read more about President Coolidge’s life as a FIJI member, please visit this earlier post:

To read more about his lovely wife, Grace Goodhue Coolidge, a charter member of the Vermont Beta Chapter of Pi Beta Phi, please visit this earlier post: as well as searching the posts using the categories on the right hand of this page. She is one of my favorite people and I write about her often. There are also several posts on the Pi Beta Phi web-site that I’ve written about her.

“Phi Gamma Delta – Calvin Coolidge Fraternity – Amherst College, Mass.”

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