Salute to President Warren G. Harding (1921-1923)
Warren Gamaliel Harding, the 29th President of the United States of America, was born on November 2, 1865 in Blooming Grove, Ohio (about 12 miles west of Mansfield). He was the oldest of eight children. His father was a farmer and a teacher. His mother was a licensed mid-wife.
He was introduced to the newspaper business at the age of 11. At the age of 14 he enrolled at nearby Ohio Central College and graduated three years later. After graduation he moved to Marion, Ohio (northwest of Columbus) and worked as a teacher, an insurance agent, and a journalist-editor while taking some time to study law.
During his work as a journalist he attended the 1884 Republican National Convention held in Chicago, Illinois. The Republican candidate lost to New Yorker Grover Cleveland in the fall election but his interest in journalism was piqued. This interest eventually lead him to buy the local newspaper, the Star. He was an ardent Republican in a Democratic county, but he published a non-partisan newspaper that was appealing to both.
He married the daughter of a locally power banker with whom he had been feuding for years. She had been previously married and divorced with one child. The marriage ended the feud.
His wife was as determined as her father and was a great asset to Harding in developing the Star into a successful newspaper and in his political advancement. It has been said that she pushed him all the way to the presidency. They had no other children.
Harding promoted the town of Marion in his newspaper and the town triple in population from 1890 to 1900. He was also successful in his investing in many local businesses.
He had an unsuccessful run for governor of Ohio, but was elected to the United States Senate in 1914. His election was attributed to the popularity he garnered while campaigning throughout Ohio for William McKinley (25th President) who was running for president in 1896. He is reported to have been an excellent orator. While a Senator he supported the Anti-Saloon League and the 18th Amendment for Prohibition.
His campaign for the presidency was from his front porch. He did not travel the country, but spoke to those who gathered in front of his home. Amazingly, he was elected President in 1920.
During his presidency he actively opposed the League of Nations (precursor to the United Nations). He pushed for reduction in government spending and raised tariffs. The first conference for the international limitation of arms was held in Washington, DC during his term. His administration is best known for the Tea Pot Dome Scandal in which government officials leased lands in California and at Teapot, Wyoming at very low prices to private oil companies. Officials were investigated and convicted by both Democrats and Republicans. This event tarnished President Harding’s reputation and lead him to travel the country to repair his reputation.
Ironically, he died on August 2, 1923 in San Francisco while traveling the west coast. Rumors have it that he was poisoned, but the official statement was that he died from a heart attack. Vice President Calvin Coolidge, who was in Vermont at the time, was sworn as the 30th President in by his own father.
More may be learned about President Harding and Mrs. Harding and the events during their lives at the Warren G. Harding Home & Memorial in Marion, Ohio. If you enjoy history, it is an historic site worth the travel and time, especially in 2020 when the home re-opens (July 1, 2020) after having been restored. You can stand on the front porch from which he campaigned. And, a commemoration is planned for the 100 year anniversary of Harding’s election to the presidency in 1920.
Quotes attributed to President Harding:
“Inherent rights are from God, and the tragedies of the world originate in their attempted denial.”
“I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my g—-mned friends, they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights! ”
“Honesty is the great essential. It exalts the individual citizenship, and, without honesty, no man deserves the confidence of the people in private pursuit or in public office.”
“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much of government, and at the same time do for it too little.”