Presidents: Warren G. Harding

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Warren G. Harding was the first president to die of natural causes since William Henry Harrison. At the time of Harding’s death he was one of the most popular

William G. Harding

presidents, but his administration was about to be rocked by scandal.

Warren Gamaliel Harding was born on November 2, 1865 in Blooming Grove, Ohio. He was the oldest of eight children born to George Tryon and Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson Harding. He was nicknamed “Winnie” as a small child. By the age of eleven, he was working alongside his father in the newspaper business.

In 1879, he enrolled at Ohio Central College and ran the local newspaper while in school.

Harding tried his hand for a short time as a teacher, insurance man and lawyer, before purchasing a failing newspaper. With the purchase of the paper he was able to attend the 1884 Republican National Convention. Upon return the sheriff had reclaimed the paper, but in time Harding was able to redeem his purchase. In time the paper thrived and provided Harding with a way to keep abreast of what was going on and provide him with a voice. To date he is the only president with a journalistic background.

Harding met Florence King, who was five years older than him, as he attacked her father through his newspaper. Harding’s sister also took music lessons from Florence. The two met and began courting. They were married on July 8, 1891 at their new home. Harding affectionately called his wife “The Duchess”. The couple had no children together.

William G. Harding

In 1888, he was a delegate to the Republican state convention and began his foray into politics. In 1895, he ran for state auditor but lost. In 1896, he spoke on behalf of President William McKinley. His job took a toll on his health, which many believe in hindsight was early occurrences of the heart ailment he had.

In 1899, he began his career as an Ohio State Senator as an unknown, but would end this stint as one of the most popular figures of the Ohio Republican party. “He always appeared calm and displayed humility, characteristics that endeared him to fellow Republicans even as he passed them in his political rise.”

In 1903, he was elected lieutenant governor of Ohio. Party fractions saw his defeat for re-election in 1905.

In 1914, Harding was elected as a U.S. Senator.

During the 1920 campaign Harding gave a speech where, he stated that “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”.Dean, his biographer, notes, “Harding, more than the other aspirants, was reading the nation’s pulse correctly.”

William G. Harding

Harding won the nomination of the 1920 Republican National Convention. He ran a front porch campagin and won the election. He was the first sitting senator to be elected to the White House.

On March 4, 1921, he took the oath of office as president. It is believed that his wife pushed him through his political career and some say “all the way to the White House”.

When he took office the country was in a postwar economic decline, as they came out of the Great War {WWI}. Harding urged congress to reduce income taxes. The tax cuts that Harding’s treasury secretary made set the stage “for the most amazing growth yet seen in America’s already impressive economy”.

In 1923, Harding sold the Star, the newspaper he’d bought and run as a young man.

Harding was an avid golfer.

William G. Harding

Harding suffered occasional health problems and became aware of a heart condition. The stress of the presidency, a smoking habit and the joy of over indulging in food added to these health issues.

Harding loved to travel and set out in June 1923 on what he called the “Voyage of Understanding”. He would travel for the next three months across the country and along the West Coast.

In July 1923, he became the first president to visit Alaska and Canada.

On the evening of July 27, 1923, Harding called his physician complaining of pain, after he’d already gone to bed. He seemed to feel better the next day and carried out his schedule, before suffering a relapse. Doctors discovered pneumonia in addition to his heart problems. On August 2, 1923 as his wife read to him, she stopped to fluff his pillows. He said “That’s good, read some more”. He collapsed and died at the age of 57. His death was a great shock to the nation.

His body was placed on a horse-drawn hearse which proceeded through his hometown of Marion, Ohio. He was buried in the Harding Tomb, which was built for him.

William G. Harding

After his death scandal broke out in the Harding administration. Several scandals broke out, but the one to cause the greatest damage was the Teapot Dome Scandal. In short “Teapot Dome involved an oil reserve in Wyoming which was one of three set aside for the use of the Navy in a national emergency. There was a longstanding argument that the reserves should be developed”. The scandal had to do with transfers and leases and a hearing began in October 1923. Albert Fall, Harding’s first Secretary of the Interior, was convicted for accepting bribes. He became the first cabinet member to be “imprisoned for crimes committed while in office.”

Personal scandal also came to light following the president’s death. Mainly the fact that he had extramarital affairs and fathered a child out of wedlock, which was proven by DNA.

When Harding died he was deeply mourned and loved. European newspapers called him a “man of peace” at the time. Scandal has damaged his reputation with the passage of time and is now ranked among some of the worst presidents.



29th President of the United States
(March 4, 1921 to August 2, 1923)

Nickname: None listed.

Born: November 2, 1865, near Corsica (now Blooming Grove), Ohio
Died: August 2, 1923, in San Francisco, California

Father: George Tyron Harding
Mother: Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson Harding
Married: Florence Kling De Wolfe (1860-1924), on July 8, 1891
Children: Elizabeth Ann Christian (illegitimate child by Nan Britton) (1919- )

Religion: Baptist
Education: Graduated from Ohio Central College (1882)
Occupation: Editor-Publisher
Political Party: Republican

  • Member of Ohio State Senate, 1900-04
  • Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio, 1904-06
  • United States Senator, 1915-21

Presidential Salary: $75,000/year

1921 His inauguration as 29th President of the United States
1921 WWI was formally ended by joint resolution
1921 May: The Emergency Quota Act is passed following the massive influx of European immigrants into the U S at the end of World War I
1921 The Teapot Dome Scandal erupts surrounding the secret leasing of federal oil reserves by the secretary of the interior, Albert Bacon Fall.
1921 The President officially opposes entry into the League of Nations
1921 The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 created the Bureau of the Budget and housed it within the Department of the Treasury.
1921 The Washington Armament Conference: an international conference called by the US to limit the naval arms race and devise security agreements in the Pacific area.
1921 The Shepperd-Towner Act was passed to fund maternity and infant health care.
1921 The War protestor and union leader Eugene V. Debs was pardoned
1922 The Capper-Volstead Act was passed due to the depression of agricultural prices following World War I
1923 On August 2, 1923, President Warren Harding died of a heart attack in San Francisco, California, whilst on a speaking tour.
1923 His presidency and term in office ends with his untimely death. The next US President was Calvin Coolidge

  • He was the first newspaper publisher to be elected president.
  • Both of Harding’s parents were doctors.
  • He suffered nervous breakdowns at the age of 24 and had to spend some time in a sanitarium.
  • One of his sisters was a Washington, D.C. policewoman.
  • Harding was the first president to ride to his inauguration in an automobile.
  • He was the first president to own a radio and the first to speak over the radio airwaves.
  • Harding was the first president to visit Canada and Alaska.
  • While president, Harding played golf, poker twice a week, followed baseball and boxing, and sneaked off to burlesque shows. His advisors were known as the “Poker Cabinet” because they all played poker together.
  • Harding wore size fourteen shoes. He had the largest feet of the presidents.
  • Harding was the first president to be survived by his father.

1865 Warren Harding is born

1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn

1877 Nez Perce War

1891 Warren Harding was married to Florence Kling Harding(Flossie) in 1891. They had no children

1896 Gold discovered in the Yukon’s Klondike

1898 Spanish-American War

1904 Panama Canal Zone acquired

1900-04 Warren Harding was Member of Ohio State Senate, 1900-04

1904-06 Warren Harding was Lieutenant-Governor of Ohio, 1904-06

1908 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) established

1915-21 Warren Harding was United States Senator, 1915-21

1917 US enters World War I

1919 Treaty of Versailles
1921 Warren Harding became the President of the United States of America

1921 Harding officially opposed entry into the League of Nations (1921)

1921 World War I was formally ended by joint resolution (1921)
War protestor Eugene V. Debs was pardoned (1921)

1922 US, France, Great Britain, Japan, and Italy sign an agreement to limit naval armaments (1922)

1923 Warren Harding died of a stroke on August 2, 1923 in San Francisco. Warren Harding was buried in the Harding Memorial, Marion, Ohio.


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