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Heptune's Baby Names for January, 2001

Names of the Presidents, Part VII: Wilson, Harding, Coolidge and Hoover

by Brenna Lorenz

    A lot of babies are named after United States presidents, especially today, where we see girls called Madison, Kennedy, Taylor and Tyler. So we thought we'd go through the whole list of presidential names, and see how (and if) they are used as baby names. We started in April with Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Madison, continued in May with Presidents Monroe, Jackson, Van Buren, and Harrison, in June with Tyler, Polk, Taylor, and Fillmore, in October with Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln and Johnson, in November with Grant, Hayes, Garfield and Arthur, and in December with Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft.

Thomas Woodrow Wilson had a tough battle getting the Democratic nomination in 1912, and then fought both incumbent president Taft and former president Theodore Roosevelt to win the presidency. Reelected in 1916 based on his promise to keep the United States out of World War I, President Wilson is best known for presiding over America's participation in that war. He suffered a debilitating stroke towards the end of his presidency. His surname is English and means "son of Will." Will is a diminutive form of William. According to my records, Wilson has been in moderate but steady use as a given name since the 1700s. It is difficult to say whether early 20th century usage is related to the president. The name is usually used for boys, but has been used for girls also.

In 1920, Americans elected the good-natured, vacuous, handsome, sexually hyperactive Republican, Warren Harding, to be president of the United States. Considered by most historians to be our worst president, Harding's administration was spectacular for the number of scandals it generated. Harding died in office before he could suffer repercussions from the scandals. The surname Harding is an Old English name meaning "son of the brave, hardy one." It has been used sporadically as a given name for boys since the early 1800s, and usage does not seem to tie in with the president.

Calvin Coolidge became president upon the death of Warren Harding, and was elected to a term of his own in 1924. Best known for his silence and inaction, "Silent" Cal Coolidge's policies paved the way for the stock market crash that followed in 1929, leading to the Great Depression. The name Coolidge is of uncertain origin. Its usage as a first name for boys seems to be confined to the 20th Century, with the earliest instances coming from 1924, the year Coolidge was elected. It would seem that Cal Coolidge did inspire a handful of namesakes.

Republican Herbert Hoover was elected to the presidency in 1928, just in time to be in the saddle for the stock market crash in 1929 and the initiation of the Great Depression. He was defeated in his bid for reelection four years later by Franklin Roosevelt. His surname is the English form of the German name Huber, meaning "a large measure of land." The name has enjoyed moderate, sporadic use as a boy's name in the 20th Century, probably inspired by the president.


Varation: (m) Wilsom
Variation: (f) Wilsonia

Go back to December's names: Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt and Taft.
Go to February's names: Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon.
Return to Heptune's Journal of Lore and Levity!
Return to Heptune's Baby Names Central.
Check out Names from the Ocean!
Read about A Tragedy Told in Names.
Check out Names in Early Jazz and Blues.

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