COOLIDGE, Calvin. Printed document signed ("Calvin Coolidge") as President, countersigned by Secretary of State Charles Hughes (1862-1948), A PROCLAMATION OF MOURNING FOR WARREN HARDING, Washington, 4 August 1923. 1 page, folio (13½ x 11 in.), boldly headed "A Proclamation", text enclosed by a black border, some creasing at fold, otherwise in fine condition.
COOLIDGE'S FIRST OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION AS PRESIDENT DECLARING A DAY OF MOURNING FOR HARDING
One day after being sworn into the Presidency, Coolidge issues a proclamation of mourning for the man whose death had placed him in the White House. Warren G. Harding was suffering from an enlarged heart and high blood pressure when he embarked upon a lengthy summer journey across the United States. The President hoped to meet with the people and make public appearances whenever possible, but the effort proved fatiguing and his condition gradually worsened. During a speech given in a blistering heat at Seattle Stadium, the President began to show serious signs of ill health: "halfway through he faltered, dropped the manuscript, and clutched the lectern in front of him with both hands" (Russell, The Shadow of Blooming Grove, p. 589). Although for a few days his condition seemed to improve, on August 2, while sitting in bed in his hotel room in San Francisco, the President suffered what was likely a stroke and died.
Calvin Coolidge was vacationing in Vermont when news of the President's death arrived. At 2:47 A.M., August 3, Coolidge was sworn in as President by his Father, a Justice of the Peace. On the following day, having returned to Washington, the new President issued this Proclamation: "To the People of the United States: In the inscrutable wisdom of Divine Providence, Warren Gamaliel Harding, twenty-ninth President of the United States, has been taken from us. The Nation has lost a wise and enlightened statesman and the American people a true friend and counselor whose whole public life was inspired with the desire to promote the best interests of the United States and the Welfare of all its citizens. His private life was marked by gentleness and brotherly sympathy, and by the charm of his personality he made friends of all who came in contact with him...Now, therefore, I, CALVIN COOLIDGE, President of the United States of America, do appoint Friday next, August 10th, the day on which the body of the dead President will be laid in its last earthly resting place, as a day of mourning and prayer throughout the United States. I earnestly recommend the people...to pay out of full hearts the homage of love and reverence to the memory of the great and good President, whose death has so sorely smitten the Nation."
Millions stood silently along the tracks as the train carrying Harding's body to Washington made its somber trek. The body lay in state in the East Room of the White House, just as Lincoln had more than 58 years before, until transported to Marion, Ohio for final burial.
Provenance: sale, Sotheby's, 23 April 1986, lot 34 (part).