Born: November 2, 1865 in Corsica (Blooming Grove), Ohio.
Died: August 2,
1923 during his presidency while visiting San Francisco, California.
to Florence Kling Harding
Before his nomination, Warren G. Harding declared, "America's
present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy;
not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery,
but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment,
but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in
A Democratic leader, William Gibbs McAdoo, called Harding's speeches "an
army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an
idea". Their very murkiness was effective, since Harding's pronouncements
remained unclear on the League of Nations, in contrast to the impassioned
crusade of the Democratic candidates, Governor James M. Cox of Ohio
and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Thirty-one distinguished Republicans had signed a manifesto assuring
voters that a vote for Harding was a vote for the League. But Harding
interpreted his election as a mandate to stay out of the League of
Harding, born near Marion, Ohio, in 1865, became the publisher of
a newspaper. He married a divorcee, Mrs. Florence Kling De Wolfe. He
was a trustee of the Trinity Baptist Church, a director of almost every
important business, and a leader in fraternal organizations and charitable
He organized the Citizen's Cornet Band, available for both Republican
and Democratic rallies; "I played every instrument but the slide
trombone and the E-flat cornet" he once remarked.
Harding's undeviating Republicanism and vibrant speaking voice, plus
his willingness to let the machine bosses set policies, led him far
in Ohio politics. He served in the state Senate and as Lieutenant Governor,
and unsuccessfully ran for Governor. He delivered the nominating address
for President Taft at the 1912 Republican Convention. In 1914 he was
elected to the Senate, which he found "a very pleasant place".
An Ohio admirer, Harry Daugherty, began to promote Harding for the
1920 Republican nomination because, he later explained, "He looked
like a President".
Thus a group of Senators, taking control of the 1920 Republican Convention
when the principal candidates deadlocked, turned to Harding. He won
the Presidential election by an unprecedented landslide of 60 percent
of the popular vote.
Republicans in Congress easily got the President's signature on their
bills. They eliminated wartime controls and slashed taxes, established
a Federal budget system, restored the high protective tariff, and imposed
tight limitations upon immigration.
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".
Behind the facade, not all of Harding's Administration was so impressive.
Word began to reach the President that some of his friends were using
their official positions for their own enrichment. Alarmed, he complained, "My friends they're
the ones that keep me walking the floors nights!".
Looking wan and depressed, Harding journeyed westward in the summer
of 1923, taking with him his upright Secretary of Commerce, Herbert
Hoover. "If you knew of a great scandal in our administration" he
asked Hoover, "would you for the good of the country and the party
expose it publicly or would you bury it?" Hoover urged publishing
it, but Harding feared the political repercussions.
He did not live to find out how the public would react to the scandals
of his administration. In August of 1923, he died in San Francisco
of a heart attack.