First correct composite photograph made of President Coolidge's first dramatic inaugural in Plymouth, Vt. The oath is being administered by notary Colonel John Coolidge, the president's father, and witnessed by Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, Porter H. Dale, and Leonard L. Lane.
|Date||August 3, 1923(Private ceremony)|
|Location||Coolidge Homestead, Plymouth Notch, Vermont|
|Participants||President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge|
The first inauguration of Calvin Coolidge as the 30th President of the United States was held on Friday, August 3, 1923 at the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, following the death of President Warren G. Harding the previous evening. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first term (a partial term of 1 year, 213 days) of Calvin Coolidge as President. The presidential oath of office was administered to the new president by his father, John Calvin Coolidge Sr., who was a Vermont notary public and justice of the peace.
Vice President Coolidge was visiting his family homestead in Vermont, which did not have electricity or a telephone, when he received word by messenger of Harding's death. As the new president, Coolidge intended to take the oath of office and greet reporters who had assembled outside. He dressed in an upstairs bedroom, said a prayer, and came downstairs.
In front of a small group of observers, including Coolidge's wife Grace and United States Representative Porter H. Dale, his father, John Calvin Coolidge Sr., a Vermont notary public and justice of the peace, administered the oath of office. The swearing in took place in John Coolidge's family parlor by the light of a kerosene lamp at 2:47 a.m. on August 3, 1923; President Coolidge then went back to bed.
Dale was campaigning for the United States Senate when he heard of Harding's death. He traveled to John Coolidge's home with reporter Joe Fountain, Herbert P. Thompson, the commander of Springfield's American Legion Post, and labor union official L. L. Lane. Dale had intended to ensure that Calvin Coolidge was informed that Harding had died, and to offer any assistance he could provide. As a result, Fountain was the only reporter present for the oath-taking. By most accounts, it was Dale who suggested persistently that Coolidge be sworn in immediately to ensure continuity in the presidency. Dale later wrote an account of this event which was published as a magazine article. The ceremony was recreated for photographers the following morning. The site is now a State Park.
Coolidge returned to Washington the next day, and Justice Adolph A. Hoehling, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia administered the oath a second time, on August 21, 1923, as there was a question about whether a state official had the authority to administer the federal presidential oath. The United States Constitution requires the President to take an oath at the beginning of his term, but it does not identify the person or officer who is to administer the oath. (It is traditional for the Chief Justice of the United States to administer the oath, but that is not a constitutional requirement. When George Washington was sworn in on April 30, 1789, neither the Supreme Court nor any other part of the federal judiciary had been created. The oath was administered by Robert Livingston, a New York state judicial officer.)
Hoehling kept the second swearing-in a secret until confirming Harry M. Daugherty's revelation of it in 1932. When Hoehling confirmed Daugherty's story, he indicated that Daugherty, then serving as United States Attorney General, asked him to administer the oath at the Willard Hotel. According to Hoehling, he did not question Daugherty's reason for requesting a second oath-taking, but assumed it was to resolve any doubt about whether the first swearing-in was valid, since it had been administered by a state official.