Vermont claims two U.S. Presidents: Calvin Coolidge and Chester Alan Arthur. Both Coolidge and Arthur were born in small farming communities, and like many of their contemporaries, left their native state to attain political prominence. Both were Republican vice presidents who succeeded to the presidency upon the death of the incumbent.
While vacationing at his old family home in August 1923, Vice President Calvin Coolidge received an urgent message from Washington, D.C. with the news that President Warren Harding had died. In the middle of the night, Coolidge was sworn in as President by his father, the local notary public. The following year, President Coolidge returned to Plymouth Notch and established his “Summer White House” office in the dance hall over the general store. Today, the village of Plymouth Notch remains much as it was when Coolidge became President, and is a pristine example of an early 20th century Vermont hill town.
Chester A. Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur was sworn in as the nation’s 21st President upon the death of President James Garfield in 1881. The son of a Baptist minister, Arthur was born in a small temporary parsonage in Fairfield, Vermont. He became a lawyer who advocated for civil rights and a major leader of the Republican Party in New York City. As President, he championed civil service reform. Today, visitors to the reconstructed home in Fairfield will see an interpretive exhibit that examines Chester Arthur’s life and political career.