Florence Kling Harding
August 15, 1860, in Marion, Ohio
November 21, 1924, in Marion, Ohio
Florence Harding served as first lady throughout her husband Warren Harding’s term from 1921 until he died in office in 1923. Florence was 60 years old when she became first lady.
Although First Lady Edith Wilson had not supported women’s suffrage, Florence believed strongly in a woman’s right to vote and encouraged women to vote during the 1920 election. Florence also played a huge role in her husband’s campaign, which was a first for a woman. She had gained considerable journalism experience while working at her husband’s newspaper, which proved invaluable in dealing with the press corps. Florence also sought to gain votes for her husband by recruiting popular movie stars and celebrities to support his campaign. Though gathering celebrity support plays a prominent role in today’s political campaigns, Florence was the first to exploit such a tactic. As first lady Florence believed that the White House should be open to all. She welcomed visitors to walk the White House grounds and tour the mansion. She also insisted on greeting every single guest who visited each New Years Day, which meant that Florence sometimes stood in a receiving line for hours.
Florence helped manage her husband’s presidential campaign and once remarked, “I know what’s best for the president. I put him in the White House.”