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Joseph Coolidge

Joseph Coolidge (1798-€“1879) was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth Bulfinch Coolidge.[1] He graduated from Harvard College in 1817, embarked on a grand tour of Europe and returned to America in 1824. In the spring of that year he traveled to Monticello to meet Thomas Jefferson, a two-week visit during which Coolidge became acquainted with Jefferson's granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph. On 13 October 1824 he wrote to Jefferson from Boston expressing his gratitude for Jefferson's kindness and requesting permission to return to Monticello in hopes of proposing to Ellen, pending Jefferson's approval. On 27 May 1825 Joseph and Ellen were married in the parlor at Monticello and after a six-week wedding trip, the couple settled in Boston, residing with Joseph's parents in Bowdoin Square. Joseph and Ellen had six children, including twin boys. Joseph's employment as clerk and later partner with Russell and Company, as resident partner with Augustine Heard and Company, and as agent of Jardine, Matheson and Company, took him overseas for long periods of time. In 1838 Ellen met Joseph in London for an extended visit and spent two years in Macao while her husband worked in nearby Canton. After Joseph left China in 1844 he reunited with his family in Switzerland and they spent several more years in Europe before returning to Boston.


  1. Joseph Coolidge's family was not closely related to that of the later-President Calvin Coolidge.

Further Sources

  • Family Letters Digital Archive
  • Coolidge, Thomas Jefferson T. Jefferson Coolidge, 1831-1920: An Autobiography (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1923)
  • Joseph Coolidge to Thomas Jefferson, 13 Oct. 1824 (MHi)
  • Malone, Jefferson, 6: 458-9, 469
  • Shackelford, Descendants,, 1:89-99, 223-31
  • Thomas Jefferson to Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, 14 November 1825 (ViU: Thomas Jefferson Papers).
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