29th President of the United States, US Senator. Elected President of the United States on his 55th birthday, Warren Gamaleil Harding served only 29 months, but put his mark on American History. The oldest of eight children, he was raised in the rural farm land of Ohio settling in the town of Marion. His father was Tryon Harding, Sr., a school teacher, farmer, physician, and newspaper man, and his mother was Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson Harding a licensed midwife. At the age of 14, Harding enrolled at Ohio Central College in Iberia and three years later graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. While at the college, he started a newspaper with the trade that he had learned firsthand from his father. After dismissing other prospective professions, he purchased the local bankrupted newspaper, “The Marion Star”, and with a “rags to riches” story, he became a successful newspaper man. Becoming the editor of the newspaper made him interested in politics. He became a conservative Republican opposing the League of Nations. At the age of 22, he was a delegate to the 1888 Republican State Convention representing Marion County, and continued to be one until becoming president. By making numerous speeches with his powerful voice at the convention, he made a name for himself in Ohio. On July 8, 1891, he married Florence Kling DeWolfe, a wealthy businessman’s daughter, who was a divorcee five years his senior with a son; they had no children. She became an invaluable advisor for him at the newspaper as well as on his journey to the White House. Harding’s health was poor with several hospitalizations at the Dr. Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan for “neurasthenia”. His wife managed the newspaper while he was away. He ran for county auditor in 1895 but was defeated. In 1899 he was elected to the Ohio State Senate, in 1903 to Lieutenant Governor, but had an unsuccessful run for Governor in 1910. He delivered the nominating address for President Taft at the 1912 Republican Convention. In 1914 he was elected to the United States Senate, but missed more sessions than he attended including key debates on prohibition and women's suffrage. At the 1916 Republican Convention, he gave the speech which included, “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.” This thought has echoed through the years in others’ political speeches. Over the years, his speeches in general have been critiqued and a topic of political conversations; the speeches were easy to ear as he neither crossed an opponent nor gave details for taking action. Being tall, handsome, poised along with well-dressed, he gave the illusion of being powerful and intelligent to his audience. His Ohio supporters encouraged him to run for the 1920 Republican nomination for President. With a deadlock vote for the other candidates, the Republican Party compromised “in a back room decision” and turned to him to run for the office. He was paired with vice-presidential candidate Calvin Coolidge in a campaign promising a "return to normalcy" following World War I. He won with an unprecedented landslide of 60 percent of the popular vote; the largest majority any presidential candidate had ever received. He promised to choose the best minds to advise him and did appoint some good men, who were mainly personal trust-worthy friends and Ohio supporters, to his cabinet. To his surprise and being somewhat naive, some had their own corrupted agendas, thus his short administration became known for its scandalous and greed. The Teapot Dome Scandal was a major one in his administration ruining several prominent men that he had appointed; this one involved once again greed in Wyoming oil fields. Yet other scandalous subjects were questioning his ancestry and his relationships with women, but DNA testing done in 2015 has put all earlier insinuations on these subjects to rest. Taking a rest from all this Washington, D.C. stress, the president took a spring trip to Alaska and the western states. While on the trip, the president asked his trust-worthy Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, "If you knew of a great scandal in our administration, would you for the good of the country and the party expose it publicly or would you bury it?" Hoover urged publishing it, but fearing political repercussions, Harding hesitated to act. On his way home, the president complained of abdominal pain, which was thought to be “food poisoning”. He was seen by two physicians with one saying he had an enlarge heart. He seemed to rally after resting at the San Francisco Palace Hotel, but later in that evening Harding suddenly died from either a heart attack or a stroke; no autopsy was performed. Of course, he died before knowing all the details and outcomes of his corrupted administration’s greedy acts, but the public did learn the truth over the years. Several of his appointees went to trial for defrauding the government with a couple, including a cabient member, serving prison sentences; there were also a couple colleagues who committed suicide. To prevent any possible embarrassment, many of his personal papers were burned directly after his death according to documentation. Including their beautiful home in Marion, he left an estate of $850,000. Even with his blemished presidential administration, he did have some accomplishments: he eliminated wartime controls and slashed taxes, established a Federal budget system, restored the high protective tariff, advocated equal rights for African-Americans, signed peace treaties to formally end World War I and imposed tight limitations upon immigration from eastern and southern European countries. He was the first president to own a radio, the first to make speech over the radio, the first to visit Alaska, and the first to ride to his inauguration in a car. When women got the right to vote, he was the first president that they could elect. He was a Mason and a trustee of the Trinity Baptist Church in his hometown. He was a musician claiming, "I played every instrument but the slide trombone and the E-flat cornet.” He lost the White House china in a poker game, and was known to serve alcohol in the White House during the Prohibition Era. He spoke at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1922. He wrote two books with the assistance of Fredrick E. Shortemeier: “Rededicating America” in 1920 and “Our Common Country” in 1921. By 1923 the postwar depression seemed to be giving way to a new surge of prosperity, and newspapers hailed Harding as a wise statesman carrying out his campaign promise--"Less government in business and more business in government." History has not been kind in judging this president, but his lack of judgment in choosing cabinet members was President Harding’s downfall. Even with his scandalous 29 months, President Harding deserves the respect that comes with being the United States Commander in Chief.
Bio by: Linda Davis
WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING
The twenty ninth President of the United States
Born November 2, 1865 Died August 2, 1923
Florence Mabel Kling Harding
1860–1924 (m. 1891)
Elizabeth Ann Britton Blaesing