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Images courtesy of Library of Congress

Warren Harding was the twenty-ninth President of the United States (1921-1923). Historians regard him as one of the weakest chief executives in the nation's history. Born November 2, 1865, in Ohio, he attended Ohio Central College and graduated in 1882. He started out as a newspaper editor and publisher. He entered politics at the urging of his wife.

Harding first served as an Ohio State Senator, then as Lieutenant Governor (1904-1905). He lost the election in 1910 to become the Governor of Ohio, but in 1914 he was elected to the United States Senate. While in the Senate he never proposed any legislation, but was popular with the Republicans for keeping harmony within the party. Although at this time, his home state of Ohio was torn apart by factionalism, Harding worked diligently to walk a middle path and not alienate anyone. His role of harmonizer brought him into the national leadership of the Republican Party.
At the end of World War I he was on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and strongly opposed the League of Nations. At the 1920 Republican Convention, Harding was nominated as a compromise candidate. He campaigned under the slogan "Back to Normalcy" and promised to return the country to the more lighthearted environment that existed before the war.

Harding's administration was involved in widespread corruption and graft including the Teapot Dome Scandal. Control of naval oil reserves had been transferred from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior, whose secretary leased the reserves on the basis of a received payback, rather than through competitive bidding. This was but one example of the corruption that took place during the Harding presidency. Most of it did not come to light until after his death from a heart attack on August 2, 1923. While Harding had looked and acted like the President, others had actually been running the country, and Harding had not paid sufficient attention to what was happening on his watch.

Although remembered for scandal, Harding did move the nation out of wartime emergency conditions. He increased federal hiring, proposed agricultural legislation, and created a Bureau of the Budget. He concluded the peace treaties with Germany, Austria, and Hungary. He also took strong action in the movement to limit the extended hours of labor in the American Steel Industry.

Warren G. Harding became the sixth Chief Executive to die in office. Upon his death, he was succeeded by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge. After his death, a series of congressional investigations and criminal trials resulted in many high officials, some of them Harding's personal friends, being convicted of crimes. Misconduct was found in the Interior and Navy Departments, the Veterans' Bureau, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Alien Property Custodian. Two of the most prominent people indicted were Attorney General Harry Daugherty and Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall.




29th President


Party: Republican

Vice President(s):
Calvin Coolidge

Notable Events:
Peace between Germany and Austria declared, Teapot Dome Scandal, Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act