Warren G. Harding
|1921-1923||Republican||November 2, 1865, in Corsica, Ohio||August 2, 1923, during his presidency while visiting San Francisco, California|
|Vice President||First Lady||Previous Occupation||States in Union|
|Calvin Coolidge||Florence Kling Harding (Wife)||Editor-Publisher||48|
Harding’s parents were George Tryon and Phoebe E. Dickerson Harding. In 1891 Harding married Florence Kling de Wolfe, who had divorced her first husband. She had one son from her previous marriage, Marshall deWolfe, but no additional children with Harding. Harding also had an affair with Nan Britton, which resulted in the birth of an illegitimate daughter, Elizabeth Ann Christian.
Harding won over voters by recommending that Americans return to a simpler way of life following World War I. He was elected by an unprecedented 60% of the popular vote.
Harding vetoed fewer bills––only six––than any other president in the 20th century. During his administration, the national debt was reduced, the Bureau of the Budget was created, and Congress implemented a quota system on immigration. Also, Harding sponsored the very first disarmament conference that resulted in several treaty agreements, specifically a limitation of naval armaments between the U.S., Japan, Italy, Great Britain, and France. Harding is also credited with having persuaded the steel industry to reduce work days to eight hours, which prompted other industries to do the same. However, Harding usually sided with big business, and refused to support a minimum wage.
Unfortunately, a number of Harding’s advisors proved to be corrupt, which dishonored Harding’s presidency with numerous scandals. In fact, his Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, was convicted of accepting a $100,000 bribe and became the first cabinet officer to ever go to jail. Harding became the sixth president to die in office. After conducting an exhaustive national tour to reassure the public in the aftermath of federal scandals, he suffered what was probably a heart attack.
“In the great fulfillment we must have a citizenship less concerned about what the government can do for it and more anxious about what it can do for the nation.” (Address at the Republican Convention in Chicago; June 7, 1916)
“We must stabilize and strive for normalcy.” (1920)
Shortly after being elected, Harding remarked upon the reality of the presidency’s demands, “I am just beginning to realize what a job I have taken over. God help me, for I need it.”
Harding remarked upon learning that some of his friends were unscrupulous in their official positions, “My God, this is a hell of a job. I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of them, all right. But my damn friends . . . They’re the ones that keep me walking the floors nights.”
At This Time
1921: Ku Klux Klan activities become violent throughout the U.S • Silent movies are extremely popular • Radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh transmits the first regular radio programs in the U.S • The U.S. population is 107 million • 1922: The U.S. and Japan sign a naval agreement • Willa Cather publishes One of Ours, which wins the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 • Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt Wallace found Reader’s Digest • Joan Miro paints The Farm. John Harwood invents a self-winding wristwatch • Insulin is first administered to diabetic patients • U.S. government revenues total $4,919 million, and expenditures total $4,068 million
Did You Know?
Harding is responsible for saving the Constitution––literally. The Constitution had been improperly stored in files at the State Department and was deteriorating. Harding had it preserved in a protective glass case.
The cowboy actor Will Rogers once visited Harding at the White House. Harding quipped to Rogers, “This is the first time I ever got to see you without paying for it.”
Biographical information, as well as educational resources sponsored by C-SPAN.
Biographical information, essays, and access to Harding’s presidential speeches sponsored by the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Field Trips for Warren G. Harding
Warren G. Harding Home
Restored and furnished with Harding family possessions, this is the home from which Harding launched himself to the White House with his “front porch” campaign.
Warren G. Harding Memorial
The Harding Memorial is a circular monument of white Georgia marble containing the remains of President and Mrs. Harding. The monument, set in ten acres of landscaped grounds, is similar in appearance to a round Greek temple. The simple Doric features and spacious surroundings combine to create one of the most beautiful presidential memorials outside Washington, D.C.