Vice President Essays

Editor comments:

High school student government is a microcosm of American politics: a group of elected officials makes decisions that will affect and hopefully benefit their peers. They represent the larger student body, and therefore play an extremely integral part of each class's future. By the spring of my junior year, I no longer wanted to be an outsider looking in; I wanted to be a part of the collective group making the decisions. My high school had given so much to me: an education, a group of friends, and memories I will remember forever, and I felt it imperative that I do something to help my class. The way that I felt I could be the most beneficial to my classmates was to lend my unique viewpoint to the student council, which is why I chose to run for senior class vice president.

You might want to consider placing dashes around "and hopefully benefit" - up to you. You are an integral part of something; you play an integral role in something. You don't need "collective" before "group." "I felt it imperative" is a little wordy - try to always make your point in the clearest, most concise manner possible.

I didn't run just for the sake of it, I rand because I thought I could win and do a better job than the incumbent; the same guy who had held the position all three previous years and had his sights set on a political future. In spite of this, I believed the class could relate better to me than the incumbent vice president, as I had friends in various social circles that gave me a much more diverse outlook on my class' needs.

The first sentence is a little awkward and a bit too informal ("the same guy"). Also, watch out for typos ("rand").

I knew that I needed an innovative campaign strategy, and that the basic "vote for me and I'll get you whatever you want" route wouldn't be enough. I knew that having a memorable speech would be imperative to success, as it was my one chance to directly address the entire class. I led off the speech with my favorite joke, and was honest with my classmates encouraging their votes. I had worn a number of shirts with different messages on them, and, as I went through my speech, I'd take one off to reveal a new message. When I reached the last shirt with a huge money symbol on it (symbolizing the increased revenue I was promising the class) my friends interspersed in the audience launched monopoly money into the air on cue. The next day I came in early to school once and painted a giant chalk "ASA for VP" sign in the parking lot. I chronicled all of this on a website I created, and all of my campaign posters directed any interesting students to the site, which ended up hosting a heated debate between my opponent and myself. After 400 votes in the site's mock poll, I was in a dead heat with my main competitor. That poll, however, was a lesson in statistical anomalies: I won the 4-person race with over 60% of the vote.

Try "standard" instead of "basic" in the first sentence. Try not to use the same word too often (e.g. "imperative"); it can sound a little lazy. "The next day I came in early to school once" doesn't make sense. "any interested students," not "interesting students."

The process not only allowed me to have some say in the direction of the class, but enabled me to become a better person. I have since gained more confidence in myself knowing that I have the support of the majority of my classmates. There are few better feelings than walking down a hall and having someone you have never met say "congratulations on the win". My dad's mantra that hard work beats natural ability was proven, when my tireless campaigning showed real results. I also learned to take responsibility for my actions, as now I still have to follow through on those promises and reward the people who believed in me.

Can you be more specific than "enabled me to become a better person"? This is a fairly generic phrase. Periods go inside the quotation mark. You haven't really learned how to take responsibility for your actions yet - you have yet to prove yourself.

As John Kerry said in the 2000 Presidential election, "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Up until I ran for vice president, I had been just another student on the sideline, having the decisions made for me. My goal was to get involved, make a difference, and give back to the school that had given me so much, and in doing so I learned a great deal. When the election concluded, I had learned a vital lesson about the importance of being an individual, setting goals, and working hard to achieve those goals.

"sidelines" is plural.

Dear client,

You might want to consider increasing the specificity of some of the phrases that you use in this essay. You're describing an experience that admissions officers will most likely have read about before (being elected to class office), so the important thing here is to convey what was unique about your particular experience. Watch out for generic phrases like "become a better person."

You also have a slight tendency towards wordiness - try to always make your point in the clearest, most concise manner possible, ensuring that each paragraph focuses on a single main point.

Your essay also contains a number of awkward phrasing choices, grammatical errors, and typos, all of which I have corrected for in my revision.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions or concerns.

Best,

GradeSaver Editor

REVISION:

High school student government is a microcosm of American politics: elected officials make decisions that they hope will benefit the general populace. Class officers are representatives of the larger student body, and therefore play an integral role in the lives of their peers. During the spring of my junior year, I realized that I no longer wanted to be a passive observer of the electoral process; I wanted to be a part of the group making the decisions. My high school had given me so much - a great education, a caring group of friends, and countless memories that I will retain forever - and I wanted to give something back. I felt that my unique viewpoint would benefit the student council, and decided to run for vice president of the senior class.

I didn't run just for the sake of running; I truly believed that I could win, and that once in office I would be able to do a better job than the incumbent. The student who had held the position for the last three years had his sights set on a future in politics, but I felt that the class would be able to relate to me. I had friends in a wide variety of social circles, and believed that the diversity of my friendships gave me a strong understanding of my class's needs.

I knew that an innovative campaign strategy would be integral to my success; the standard "vote for me and I'll give you what you want" slant wouldn't be enough. I also knew that a memorable speech would be crucial, as the speech was my one opportunity to directly address the entire student body. I began my speech with my favorite joke, and then began talking to my classmates honestly and straightforwardly. I had come onto the stage wearing a number of t-shirts, each layered over the other, and during the speech I peeled them off one at a time to reveal different aspects of my campaign. When I reached the last shirt, emblazoned with a large $ to symbolize the increased revenue I was promising the class, my friends sitting in the audience tossed handfuls of monopoly money into the air. The next day, I arrived at school early and used chalk to write "ASA FOR VP" on the ground in the parking lot. My campaign posters directed interested students to a website I had set up to chronicle my efforts, and I ended up posting a heated debate between my opponent and myself. After collecting 400 votes in the site's mock poll, I was in a dead heat with my competitor. Ultimately, I won the four-person race, with over 60% of the vote.

The process of running for student council not only gave me an invaluable opportunity to communicate directly with my peers, but also made me a more responsible, proactive, and informed individual. Knowing that I have the support of the majority of my classmates has given me a great deal of self-confidence. There are few better feelings than walking down the hall and having someone whom you've never met congratulate you on your win. My father has always said that hard work beats out natural ability every time, and I now understand what he means: my tireless campaigning had real results. I now look forward to taking on the responsibility of following through on the promises that I made and rewarding those who believed in me.

As John Kerry said during the 2000 Presidential election, "Democracy is not a spectator sport." Until I ran for vice president, I was just another student standing on the sidelines, allowing the decisions to be made for me. I decided to get involved, make a difference, and give back to the school that had given me so much, and in doing so I discovered a great deal about my community and about myself. When the election was finally over, I had learned a valuable lesson about the importance of individuality, determination, and hard work.

75th Anniversary of Calvin Coolidge’s Inauguration: March 4, 1925

by Jerry L. Wallace

Jerry L. Wallace served as historian/archivist of three Presidential inaugural committees in 1973, 1981, and 1985. He is retired from the National Archives in Washington, DC, and is now archivist at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas.

On March 4th, 1925, 75 years ago, Calvin Coolidge was inaugurated
President of the United States in his own right.

Coolidge had actually come into the Presidency 19 months earlier, upon the sudden death of Warren G. Harding in August 1923. In a dramatic early morning ceremony at the Coolidge Homestead in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, Colonel John C. Coolidge had administered the Presidential oath to his son, the one and only time that this has occurred in our history. The event immediately captured the imagination of the nation.

The previous November, Coolidge had won election with the slogan “Keep Cool With Coolidge,” soundly defeating two major challengers, Democrat, John W. Davis, and Progressive, Robert M. La Follette. He thereby became the first President elected from New England since Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire in 1852.

The Constitution provided that Coolidge take his oath of office on Wednesday, March 4th, 1925. (It was not until the ratification of the 20th Amendment that inauguration day was move up to January 20th; the first inaugural to fall on the new date was Franklin Roosevelt’s in 1937.) The weather, which had frequently treated his predecessors unkindly with snow or rain or both, treated Coolidge well. His inauguration day dawned bright and clear, and for Washington, the temperature was unusually mild. This would help to make for a large crowd that day.

Coolidge kept to his regular routine as much as possible. He arose, as was his custom, before 7 o’clock. He then went for a walk around the White House grounds, breakfasted with his wife, and answered mail and reviewed his inaugural speech. Vice President-elect Charles Gates Dawes and Congressional leaders arrived a little before eleven. The official party then set off for the Capitol, escorted by a military unit from Vermont.

At the Capitol, the first order of business was the inauguration of General Dawes as Vice President, which took place in the Senate Chamber, over which he would preside. Dawes used his inaugural address to attack the senators’ right of filibuster, upsetting senators and creating something of a sensation. The President was not amused.

The Presidential oath-taking followed on the east portico of the Capitol Building. On this occasion, not his father, but the Chief Justice of the United States, William Howard Taft, administered the prescribed oath to Coolidge. The Bible used was that given him as a boy by his mother. On the platform nearby were his First Lady, Grace Goodhue; his 19-year-old son, John, who had come down from Amherst for the day; his father, Col. Coolidge, who had almost been snowbound in Plymouth; and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Andrew I. Goodhue, who, some said, had not always appreciated him.

Missing was his younger son, Calvin, Jr., who had died tragically the previous July. For the President and his family, who were still in mourning, young Calvin’s loss greatly diminished the pleasure and happiness normally associated with such a grand occasion. About the President, there was an air of melancholy.

His mourning, along with a desire to avoid excessive display or expenditures of the people’s money, led the President to request that the inaugural ceremonies be kept simple. Chief Justice Taft observed, “The effort seems to be to have as much show as they can if it can be called republican and simple.” This emphasis on restraint and avoiding unnecessary show turned out well, producing a ceremony of Jeffersonian simplicity. The rites were, in the words of one knowledgeable commentator on inaugurations, “strikingly impressive in their unostentatious dignity.”

By the time Coolidge had come to Washington, inaugurations had lost their novelty for him. In his Autobiography, writing of the Harding-Coolidge inauguration of March 4, 1921, he said: “As I had already taken a leading part in seven inaugurations and witnessed four others in Massachusetts, the experience was not new to me.” Moreover, based on his inaugural experiences in Massachusetts, Coolidge was not at all impressed by the ceremonies in Washington, which were overseen by the Congress. In describing the role of the President of the Massachusetts Senate in swearing-in the Governor and his Council, he noted that the ceremony followed “a formal ritual that has come from colonial days, and is much more ceremonious than the swearing-in of a President in Washington.” In fact, Coolidge was critical of the event at the Capitol: “I was struck by the lack of order and formality that prevailed.” He particular disliked having the Vice Presidential and Presidential oath-takings take place in separate locations, the Senate Chamber and on the east portico of the Capitol, respectively, which he saw as destroying “all semblance of unity and continuity.” Eventually, this practice was ended by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937, when he moved Vice Presidential swearing-in to the east portico and also, by the way, put an end to the Vice President’s inaugural address (no more embarrassing Dawes-like addresses).

After the oath, which took place around one o’clock, the President delivered his inaugural address, containing 4,059 words and lasting 47 minutes–longer by far than the addresses of most of his predecessors and successors. Wilson’s addresses, for example, ran 1,802 words in 1913 and 1,526 in 1917, a total of 3,328 for both. In his biography of Coolidge, Claude M. Fuess declared it to be “one of his ablest utterances.” In it, Coolidge pressed his program of stability and steady advance and of efficiency and economy in government. There was no occasion to call for major reforms or changes in existing policy. Its tone reflected his confidence and faith in the nation’s future. Problems there were to be sure at home and abroad–but good, steady progress was being made in resolving them. Many of the ideas expressed in it had been previously stated in his State of the Union message of December 3, 1924. Perhaps Coolidge chief theme was this:

I want the people of America to be able to work less for the government and more for themselves. I want them to have the rewards of their own industry. That is the chief meaning of freedom. Until we can re-establish a condition under which the earnings of the people can be kept by the people, we are bound to suffer a very distinct curtailment of our liberty.

While lacking the high drama of the Homestead Inaugural, Coolidge’s formal inauguration at the Capitol had its own special significance: For the first time, a President was sworn-in by a former President, that is, Chief Justice Taft, who had served as the 27th President, 1909-1913. Most importantly, however, for the first time, the inaugural ceremonies were carried by radio to all sections of the nation, making the Presidential inauguration into a national event in which all citizens could participate. In the past, only the crowd gathered in the plaza in front of the Capitol could hear the President take the oath, and even then, prior to introduction of the amplifier in 1921 for Harding’s inaugural, only those up close could hear it and the Presidential address clearly. Now, a farmer sitting in his parlor in Kansas, could hear the ceremony as clearly as if he were on the platform itself. It was estimated that 25 million American heard the ceremony. The Presidential inauguration was being transformed from a local event in an old Southern town into a truly national happening. In 1949, the arrival of television would later complete the process.

Following the ceremony at the Capitol, Coolidge returned to the White House for a luncheon and then reviewed the inaugural parade, the last official event of the day, from a glass-enclosed stand. This took less than an hour.

In keeping with the President’s wishes, there was no official inaugural ball that evening (in fact, none had been held since Taft’s day). There was, however, an unofficial charity ball attended by Vice President Dawes, and, in far off Plymouth Notch, there was dancing in the meeting room above Florence Cilley’s general store. Others visited the Congressional Library, which was especially illuminated for the occasion, or attended the theater.

The President did permit himself some entertainment, however. On the eve of his inauguration, the Coolidges had attended a performance of Aïda at the new Auditorium Theatre accompanied by family members and Massachusetts friends, who had come down to Washington on a special train. That evening, however, after busy days of events, the President dined with his guests at the White House and later attended a banquet at the Cairo Hotel, given in his honor by member of the Massachusetts Legislature. The newly inaugurated President was at home in bed by 10 o’clock, as were most of his fellow citizens. And sleep well they could, for they knew the Republic was in good hands with Calvin Coolidge. That’s the way it was 75 years ago.

©1998 Jerry L. Wallace

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