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Warren Harding

Warren Harding


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Warren Gamaliel Harding was born in Corsica (later Blooming Grove), Ohio, the eldest of eight children. Harding purchased the Marion Star in 1884 and became active in local civic affairs, joining a variety of fraternal, church and business groups. In 1891, he married Florence Kling DeWolfe, a wealthy divorcee, who worked with him in the newspaper office; their relationship was not a warm one and Harding began to indulge in a series of affairs.Harding became a popular figure in Marion; he was handsome, affable, a talented public speaker, always carefully attired, but made no pretense of intellectual sophistication. In 1910, he ran unsuccessfully for governor.Harding was selected to deliver the nominating speech for William Howard Taft in 1912, an event that brought the newspaperman national attention. He worked hard during the ensuing campaign, attacking Theodore Roosevelt and the Bull Moose Party as political traitors. He made little impact as a legislator, but dependably supported Henry Cabot Lodge on most foreign affairs issues, backed the interests of big business and paid lip service to the cause of prohibition.Warren G. McAdoo, a Senator and Wilson cabinet appointee, later said of that a typical Harding speech was “an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea.”In 1920, Harding entered several early Republican presidential primaries; he fared poorly and wanted to drop out of the race, but was encouraged to remain by his wife and Daugherty. Senator Lodge proved to be pivotal by influencing other political pros in the infamous "smoke-filled" Chicago hotel room and delivered the nomination to the Ohioan on the 10th ballot.The campaign in 1920 harked back to those of Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley, in which a confident candidate remained at home and eager delegations were brought to him. Harding greeted his followers from his front porch and pledged to return the nation to “normalcy” — music to the ears of many exhausted by World War I and Wilsonian internationalism.Once in office, Harding made it clear that normalcy was his goal. Among them:

The urgency for an instant tariff enactment, emergency in character and understood by our people that it is for the emergency only, cannot be too much emphasized. I believe in the protection of American industry, and it is our purpose to prosper America first. ...A very important matter is the establishment of the government`s business on a business basis. There was toleration of the easy-going, unsystematic method of handling our fiscal affairs, when indirect taxation held the public unmindful of the federal burden. But there is knowledge of the high cost of government today, and high cost of living is inseparably linked with high cost of government. There can be no complete correction of the high living cost until government`s cost is notably reduced.

Warren Harding pledged to bring the “best minds” to Washington, but made some extremely poor choices for key positions. Domestic advances were made in such areas as the regularization of federal budgeting, establishment of a high protective tariff, restriction of immigration and the repeal of high wartime taxes. The appointment of the able Charles Evans Hughes as secretary of state led to what was perhaps the crowning achievement of the administration — the Washington Naval Conference and subsequent efforts at arms reduction and international stabilization. Harding also won the admiration of many for his Christmas 1921 pardon of Eugene V. Debs — a man who was the polar opposite of the president on almost every political and social issue.By the spring of 1923, it was evident that some cronies had taken advantage of the president’s easy-going nature and had enriched themselves at public expense. Warren Harding sought refuge in travel, venturing across the country making speeches and vacationing in Alaska. On the return trip, the president became ill and died suddenly in San Francisco on August 2. Speculation developed in later years about the manner of Harding’s death, but the evidence available today strongly suggests natural causes.Warren G. Harding was a popular president during his abbreviated term in office, but never a truly beloved one. Will Rogers, the widely popular comedian, said of the president that “he didn’t do anything, but that’s what the people wanted done.” Harding’s passing was marked by the usual platitudes about his service to the country, but those sentiments were soon replaced by pointed criticism as news of the scandals emerged. His reputation was further damaged in 1927, when a book was published by a woman claiming to be the mother of a child by Harding before he was president.The assessment of Warren Harding has become a bit more favorable in recent years as historians have emphasized the worth of his efforts in international affairs as well as the comparative lack of significance of the scandals.


10 Things to Know About President Warren G. Harding

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    Warren Gamaliel Harding was born on November 2, 1865, in Corsica, Ohio. He was elected president in 1920 and took office on March 4, 1921. He died while in office on August 2, 1923. While serving as the nation's 29th president, the Teapot Dome scandal occurred due to his putting his friends in power. The following are 10 key facts that are important to understand when studying the life and presidency of Warren G. Harding.


    Early life

    Born on a farm, Harding was the eldest of eight children of George Tryon Harding and Phoebe Dickerson Harding his ancestry combined English, Scottish, and Dutch stock. His father later left farming to become a physician. Following a mediocre education at local schools in Ohio and three years at Ohio Central College, Harding tried his hand at several vocations until in 1884 he bought a struggling weekly newspaper in Marion, Ohio, to which he devoted himself. Seven years later he married Florence Kling De Wolfe (Florence Harding), and she proved instrumental in transforming The Marion Star into a financially successful daily paper. Soon Harding, a man of little discernible intellect or imagination, found himself invited to join leading corporate boards and fraternal organizations. As he began to associate with the state’s movers and shakers, he was drawn into Republican Party politics. A handsome man who was always well dressed and well groomed, Harding looked like a leader. It was his outward appearance rather than any internal qualities that contributed most strongly to his political success.


    Warren Harding - History

    Warren G. Harding is the 29th president of the United States. During his candidacy, he popularized the line “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 triumphant nationality…” This small-town-man-turned-president served his country until his last breath.

    Warren G. Harding’s Early Life

    Warren Gamaliel Harding was born on November 2, 1865 in a farming village near Corsica (now Blooming Grove), Ohio. He was the son of doctors, Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson-Harding and George Tyron Harding. When he was a child his family moved to the larger town of Caledonia in Marion, Ohio. Despite having parents who were professionals, he did farming chores. He was the typical small town man that loved to chat and mingle with the neighbors. He was intelligent. In fact, he did well in school and completed college at Ohio Central College.

    After graduating, Warren Harding taught for a year. It was a most demanding job during that time. He also became an insurance salesman for a time. After these short term jobs, he went into the newspaper business and founded the Marion Star with two partners. He worked as the editor of his newspaper before he became the sole owner. Most of his writings were pro-Republican. By age 20, he worked as an orator and gave speeches in county and State Republican Conventions. He gave the nomination speech for President Howard Taft in 1912.

    Marriage to Florence Kling

    During this time, Amos Kling, the richest man in Marion, took notice of this well-groomed, intelligent young man. He was against Harding having anything to do with his pianist daughter, Florence.

    Florence Kling DeWolfe was a recently divorced when she met Warren at a skating rink. She had a son from her previous marriage but gave custody to her estranged husband. After a year of courtship, Florence and Warren got married on July 8, 1891. The two never had a child. The couple became indifferent to Amos Kling when he spread the news that Warren had black ancestors. Because of his natural, lovable charm, Warren overcame the accusation.

    Florence, whom Warren called Duchess, was the first who encouraged him to run for office in Ohio. He took his wife’s advice and won a seat at the Ohio State Senate. He served two terms as a state senator before he became a lieutenant governor. He ran for governor but lost the race.

    Harry Daugherty, an Ohio politician, saw the potentials of a great leader in Warren Harding. He, together with the Duchess, led the campaign for Warren for the U.S. senate. After being out in public service for a long time, he surprisingly won and became a U.S. senator.

    Running For President

    Most of his policies were being compared to Washington’s. The results of his policies were as successful. After 6 years serving in the senate, Harding filed candidacy for president under the Republican Party. He won by a landslide against James M. Cox, another native of Ohio. He received 404 electoral votes as opposed to Cox’s 127. He delivered his inaugural speech on March 4, 1921. He was the first president who gave a speech on a loudspeaker and the first newspaper publisher to become the United States president. His vice president was Calvin Coolidge, who succeeded him after he died.

    Harding’s term was one of the most controversial administrations in the United States presidency. Most Americans consider him as one of the worst presidents because of these controversies. He had affairs with other women, one of whom he had an illegitimate child with. His era marked arrival of the Depression and increased World Conflict. According to some historians, Warren Harding was one of the best presidents that America ever had.

    During his first month, President Harding he approved the Thompson-Urrutia Treaty, which gave Columbia 25 million dollars as a reward for winning over Panama. He signed the Emergency Quota Act into law. This was meant to limit immigrants from residing in United States. Harding and his administration passed the Emergency Tariff Act which became later known as the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act. The tariff act would serve as protection for all American products and to end the post-war recession.

    On May 31, 1921, Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby transferred control for oil reserves in California and Teapot Dome, Wyoming to Secretary Albert B. Fall of Department of the Interior. This later caused a scandal and ruined the image of Harding’s administration. He also signed the Budget and Accounting Act. He was the first president that required all the government agencies to have a budget. On June 1921, the Budget and Accounting Act was able to establish the Bureau of the Budget and the General Accounting office under the Treasury Department. Harding was able to cut the government expense by one billion dollars.

    On July 2, 1921, President Harding signed a peace treaty with Germany and Austria, separately. At the end of World War I, many Americans were unemployed. On September 26 of 1921, Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover reported that approximately of 5.7 million Americans were out of work. It also during this time, that acts of violence were committed by the Ku Klux Klan (or, the KKK).

    The president signed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act. This act was the administration’s response to American women that did not have enough prenatal care.

    Before his first year ended, Harding pardoned Eugene Debs and twenty-three others who were found guilty under the Espionage Act during WWI.

    Most of Harding’s laws were for the protection of American farmers. By February 18, 1922, Harding signed the Capper-Volstead Act, which allowed farmers to buy and sell without crossing the anti-trust laws. It was during this time that silent birth of the Teapot Dome Scandal started. On April 7, 1922, Secretary Albert Fall leased the oil reserves to Harry Sinclair which would later become the talk of the nation.

    To protect the budget of the government and to be able to pay the debt to veterans of the Great War, Harding rejected the Soldiers’ Bonus Bill. This Bill was later passed on to Calvin Coolidge. By September 22, Harding approved the Cable Act which allowed the married American women to retain their citizenship regardless of their husband’s nationality.

    1923 was the most forgettable year for Warren Harding. As early as January 2, 1923, the Teapot Dome Scandal unfolded. The president accepted the resignation of Secretary Albert Fall. After 27 days, Veterans’ Bureau Secretary Charles Forbes also resigned from his department. He was charged and convicted of fraud, conspiracy, and bribery. Because of this, the president was called corrupt. The Teapot Dome scandal became the days hottest topic, tarnishing the president’s reputation. Warren Harding, while may or may not have been involved, was vilified.

    On June 20, 1923, Warren Harding and his wife, Florence, left the White House to a retreat which they considered a voyage of understanding. The reason for this trip across Alaska and California was to compose the image and faith of the Harding administration despite the scandal they were facing.

    Harding’s health was failing. He suffered from a ptomaine poisoning attack that later led to pneumonia. Though he seemed to be recovering, he still showed signs weakness. Prior to his trip, his condition did not allow to keep up the normal schedule of the office of the president.

    On August 2, 1923, Warren Harding was found dead in his hotel room in San Francisco, California. His death was controversial because the real reason is still unknown. An autopsy on his body was declined by wife Florence. Speculations roamed over his death. Others claim that his wife poisoned him after she learned about his mistress and their love child. Others theorized that his wife didn’t want to expose a secret that was only to known to both of them. Some thought that he killed himself because he could not overcome the pressure of the scandals he was surrounded with.

    His death prevented him from defending his administration from the controversies. Though his image was stained by the failed service of his administration, Warren Harding was still one of the most respected presidents of the United States. His actions and policies are reflected in the successes of the presidents after him.


    Warren G. Harding

    Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States (1921–23), a Republican from Ohio who served in the Ohio Senate and then in the United States Senate, where he played a minor role.

    With the Republican Party convention near deadlock, Harding was chosen as an inoffensive compromise candidate in the 1920 election. He brought leading advertising experts on board, especially Albert Lasker, to publicize his presidential appearance and conservative promises. He promised America a "return to normalcy" after World War I, with an end to violence and radicalism, a strong economy, and independence from European intrigues. Harding represented the conservative wing of his party in opposition to progressive followers of the late Theodore Roosevelt (who died in 1919) and Senator Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. He defeated Democrat and fellow Ohio newspaper publisher James M. Cox with the largest popular vote landslide (60% to 34%) in presidential history.

    Harding sought out the "best minds" in his cabinet, including Andrew Mellon at the Treasury, Herbert Hoover at Commerce, and Charles Evans Hughes at the State Department. He rewarded friends and contributors, known as the "Ohio Gang", with powerful government positions. Multiple cases of corruption were exposed during his presidency and after his death, including the notorious Teapot Dome scandal, regarded in pre-Watergate times as the "greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics".

    Domestically, Harding signed the first federal child welfare program, and dealt with striking mining and railroad workers in part by supporting an 8-hour work day. He created the Bureau of the Budget to prepare the first United States federal budget. Harding advocated an anti-lynching bill to curb violence against African Americans, but it failed to pass Congress. In foreign affairs, Harding spurned the League of Nations and negotiated peace treaties with Germany and Austria. His greatest foreign policy achievement came in the Washington Naval Conference of 1921–22, in which the world's major naval powers agreed on a naval limitations program that held sway for a decade. [ citation needed ]

    In August 1923, Harding suddenly collapsed and died in California. His administration's many scandals have earned Harding a bottom-tier ranking from historians, but in recent years there has been some recognition of his fiscal responsibility and endorsement of African-American civil rights. Harding has been viewed as a more modern politician who embraced technology and was sensitive to the plights of minorities, women, and labor.


    Warren G. Harding: Life Before the Presidency

    Warren G. Harding, called “Winnie” by his mother, was born on November 2, 1865, in Blooming Grove, Ohio. When he was ten, his family moved to the small Ohio village of Caledonia where he was raised. Both his parents were doctors—an unusual distinction for Phoebe Harding, who was granted a medical license based upon her experience as a midwife and in assisting her husband, George Harding. Warren cherished his childhood memories that painted a wholesome and perfect picture-book boyhood. An upbringing filled with farm chores, swimming in the local creek, and playing in the village band were the basis of his down-home appeal later in life. Like so many small-town boys in post-Civil War Ohio, Harding, along with his five younger siblings (four sisters and a brother) attended a one room schoolhouse where he learned to read, write, and spell from the McGuffey's Readers. At age fourteen, he entered Ohio Central College, from which he graduated with a B.S. degree in 1882, having achieved some distinction for editing the campus newspaper.

    After college, Harding taught in a country school outside Marion, Ohio, for one term before trying his hand at law, insurance sales, and journalism for the local newspaper. In 1884, he raised $300 to purchase with two friends the nearly defunct Marion Star newspaper. They achieved moderate success over the next five years. In 1891, Warren, aged twenty-five, married a local divorcée, Florence "Flossie" Mabel Kling DeWolf, five years his senior. She had a ten-year-old son by her former husband and a sizable fortune from her wealthy family. She pursued Warren relentlessly, and he finally gave in, even though her father once stopped Warren on the street and threatened to kill him if he married his daughter. It was a match that her father objected to because of the rumor that Warren's family had black ancestors.

    Publishing and Politics

    For the next ten years, Harding's business prospered, in part due to Florence Harding's keen business eye, but principally to Harding's good-natured manner. His paper became a favorite with Ohio politicians of both parties because of his evenhanded reporting. He never ran a critical story if he could avoid it. His employees also loved and respected him for his willingness to share company profits with them. In his entire career, he never fired a single employee. In 1899, Harding won the first of two terms to the Ohio State Senate, serving as majority leader before his bid for the lieutenant governorship in 1903. After leaving office in 1905, he returned to his newspaper for five years, venturing again into state politics in a losing bid for governor in 1910.

    So popular had he become with party regulars that he was given the honor of placing President William Howard Taft's name in nomination at the party convention in 1912. When the pro-Theodore Roosevelt delegates shouted him down, Harding went away from this experience offended by the display of loud and rude behavior. In 1914, Harding won the Ohio Republican primary for senator and beat Attorney General Timothy Hogan in the general election. Harding's supporters viciously attacked Hogan for being a Catholic intent on delivering Ohio to the pope. The religion issue dominated the election and gave Harding an overwhelming victory, though he never personally mentioned religion in his speeches. Still, the dirty election campaign was a smudged mark on his political record that never set easy with him.


    The History of the Warren Harding Error

    The Warren Harding error was made popular by Malcolm Gladwell in the book Blink. This is a cautionary tale about what happens when we’re deceived by appearances.

    In the early 1920s, Warren Harding looked so presidential that voters were fooled into thinking he’d make a good president. Their unconscious bias for a leader that was handsome and dignified-looking led them astray. This bias interrupted the process of thin-slicing (when you make quick, unconscious decisions), producing an unreliable snap judgment. They based their decision on surface details, voting into office one of the worst presidents in American history. This was the Warren Harding error.

    Superficial Thin-Slicing and the Warren Harding Error

    Thin-slicing doesn’t always serve us. Sometimes, we make superficial snap judgments.

    Usually, thin-slicing helps us get below the surface details of a situation to find deep patterns. But stress, time pressures, and ingrained associations can interrupt this deep dive, leaving us with a snap judgment made on irrelevant surface details.

    The Case of Warren Harding

    Before he became the 29th president of the United States, Warren Harding had an undistinguished political career. He wasn’t particularly smart, rarely took a stance on (or interest in) political issues, gave vague speeches, and spent much of his time drinking and womanizing.

    Still, Harding climbed the political ranks and became president. He’s widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in history. How did he get the position in the first place? The Warren Harding error.

    He looked like a president. His distinguished appearance and deep, commanding voice won voters over. They unconsciously believed good-looking people make competent leaders. Harding’s handsomeness triggered associations so powerful they overrode voters’ ability to look below the surface, at his qualifications (or lack thereof). These associations are, by their nature, irrational. This is how the Warren Harding error works, and it can lead to disaster.

    Conscious Versus Unconscious Attitudes—Explaining the Warren Harding Error

    Sometimes, our snap judgments aren’t only the product but the root of prejudice and discrimination. Our attitudes about race and gender, for instance, operate on two levels.

    • Our conscious attitudes are what we choose to believe and how we choose to behave. They are the source of our deliberate decisions.
    • Our unconscious attitudes are the unthinking, automatic associations we have regarding race and gender.

    The Warren Harding error is the result of unconscious attitudes. We can’t choose our unconscious attitudes. We may not even be aware of them. Our experiences and schooling, the lessons we were taught as children, and the media all form our unconscious attitudes. These attitudes may differ dramatically from our conscious ones.

    For example, we would never say that we believe tall people make better leaders than short people. But the numbers indicate that being short is as much of a stumbling block to corporate success as being a woman or a minority. We believe tall people make good leaders, even if we don’t know we believe it. This is an example of the Warren Harding error. Consider these statistics:

    • In the U.S., 14.5% of men are six feet tall or taller 3.9% are six foot two or taller.
    • In Fortune 500 companies, 58% of CEOs are six feet tall or taller 33% are six foot two or taller.

    We have an unconscious association between leadership and tallness. We make snap judgments about our leaders based on their height. That stereotype is so strong that it overrides other qualities or considerations. We make the Warren Harding error all the time, and because we do it unconsciously, we don’t know it.

    The Disadvantages of Snap Judgments

    1) They can’t be explained: When we try to explain how we arrive at an unconscious decision, our explanations are inaccurate and sometimes problematic.

    For example, when we attempt to solve insight puzzles (puzzles only the unconscious mind can solve), explaining our strategies hurts us. As soon as we try to elucidate the mystery of our unconscious processes we disable them.

    2) The process of thin-slicing can get interrupted: Usually, thin-slicing uncovers the deep truths and relevant details needed to make a wise decision. But stress, time pressures, and biases can interrupt the usually efficient and deep process of thin-slicing, leaving us with snap judgments made on irrelevant surface details.

    In order to recognize the power of the unconscious mind’s thin-slicing (and perhaps avoid the Warren Harding error), we need to accept both its light and dark sides:

    • Light side: Thin-slicing allows us to judge a person or situation from a first impression. We don’t need long hours or months of study.
    • Dark side: Thin-slicing can act on deep-seated biases, leading us disastrously astray.

    Can We Change Our Unconscious Attitudes?

    Yes, but it takes effort. It’s possible to fight the Warren Harding error, to retrain your implicit assumptions by being aware of them and actively using your conscious mind to counter them.

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    Amanda Penn

    Amanda Penn is a writer and reading specialist. She’s published dozens of articles and book reviews spanning a wide range of topics, including health, relationships, psychology, science, and much more. Amanda was a Fulbright Scholar and has taught in schools in the US and South Africa. Amanda received her Master's Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania.


    Presidential Bid

    In 1920, political insider and friend Harry Daugherty began to promote Harding for the Republican presidential nomination. Daugherty believed that Harding "looked like a president." His upbringing was classically homegrown American. He was well-known by Republican leaders, had no major political enemies, was "right" on all the issues and represented the critically important state of Ohio. At the convention in June 1920, after 10 rounds of voting, the nomination was deadlocked. Finally, on the 11th ballot, Harding emerged as the presidential nominee, with Calvin Coolidge as his running mate.

    During the campaign, Harding pledged to return the country to "normalcy." Using clichés in lofty speeches, Harding easily won the election, gaining 61 percent of the popular vote and winning 37 of 48 states in the Electoral College he was the first sitting senator to be elected president. Opponents James M. Cox and Cox&aposs running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, only carried the deeply Democratic southern states.


    Contents

    A presidential transition was guaranteed to occur in 1920, as incumbent president Woodrow Wilson was not nominated for reelection by the Democratic Party.

    At the time that Harding's occurred, the term "presidential transition" had yet to be widely applied to the period between an individual's election as president of the United States and their assumption of the office. [1]

    Judson Welliver served as the president-elect's public relations manager. [2] Harry M. Daugherty served as Harding's "personal representative", a role which saw him meet with those visiting Harding and conduct confidential errands across the country on Harding's behalf. In his book Presidential Transitions, Laurin L. Henry wrote that positioning individuals for patronage appointments seemed to be in Daugherty's purview during the transition. [3]

    Key members of Harding's entourage that seemed to have been interviewing officials on Harding's behalf included Albert Bacon Fall, Harry M. Daugherty, and John W. Weeks. [4]

    Other key members of Harding's staff included George B. Christian Jr., Charles E. Sawyer, and Judson Welliver. [2] Harding also had a sizable clerical staff in Marion. [5]

    Early into the transition period, Harding traveled, largely vacationing. At the time, it was common for president-elects to take weeks long vacations following their election, as presidential transitions were longer than they have been more recently (the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution would shorten transitions), and were far less substantial in scale compared to the large operations of more recent presidential transitions. [6]

    Port Isabel, Texas Edit

    Harding, after his election victory, left his home in Marion, Ohio, and took a train trip down to Port Isabel, Texas in the company of key members of his staff, such as George B. Christian Jr., Harry M. Daugherty, Charles E. Sawyer, and Judson Welliver. The train made occasional whistle stop appearances along the route. In Port Isabel, Harding spend several days relaxing, with activities including golfing, fishing, and hunting. [7] Harding gave a Armistice Day speech in nearby Brownsville, Texas. [8]

    Trip to Panama Edit

    On November 17, Harding departed from Brownsville to head to New Orleans, Louisiana, arriving the next day. Once in New Orleans made a brief speech from the steps of the city hall. That evening, Harding left New Orleans for a cruise to Panama. [8]

    Harding arrived in Panama on November 23. He insisted that he be treated as a private visitor rather than an official visitor to Panama. He spent most of his time in Panama sightseeing and vacationing, but also toured the Panama Canal Zone defenses and held discussions with the key individuals stationed there. [8] [9]

    Harding left Panama on November 28. His ship briefly stopped in Kingston, Jamaica on November 30, [8] [10] and arrived at Newport News, Virginia on December 4. [8] In Newport News, he was greeted by his advisor Harry M. Daugherty. [8] Harding then spent a day visiting Norfolk-area Army and Navy installations. [8] The following day he gave an address about brotherhood at the Elks National Home in Bedford, Virginia. [8] [11]

    First post-election visit to Washington, D.C. Edit

    At 11:20 PM Eastern Time on December 5, Harding arrived in Washington, D.C. by train. [12] Harding had arrived for the opening of the second session of the 66th United States Congress. [8] Harding was still a member of the United States Senate. [8] On December 6, Harding delivered a farewell speech in the Senate Chamber. [4] [13] [14] Harding, however, would not formally resign his Senate seat until January 13 (having submitted a resignation letter on January 9, which would take effect on the 13th). [15] [16] The reason that Harding continued to hold his seat until January was that it would not be until then that James M. Cox (incidentally his Democratic opponent in the presidential election) would leave office as governor of Ohio, and be succeeded by Republican Harry L. Davis. If Harding resigned before the change in governors, Cox would be able to name a Democrat to fill his Senate seat. [16]

    Harding followed his farewell speech with a press conference, where he confirmed that he would call a special session of Congress following his inauguration. [4]

    Harding spent the rest of the day, and the day after, holding meetings with members of Congress and with other leaders of the Republican Party. [4]

    Wilson did not meet with President Wilson. However, his wife, Florence Harding, did meet with First Lady Edith Wilson at the White House on December 7, and received a tour of the White House from her. [17]

    After his trip to Washington, D.C., Harding returned to his home in Marion, Ohio on December 9. At his house, he then began work on preparing to take office. [18] Transition activities also overflowed into the house of Harding's neighbor George Christian. [5]

    In Marion, Harding made himself available to reporters, but was not always willing to be directly quoted. [5] There were also regularly press briefings about what happened at the meetings held for the transition, and information was also frequently leaked. [19]

    After roughly five weeks of transition work in Marion, Harding continued his transition work while vacationing in Florida from January 22 through February 27. [20] In Florida, he, for the majority of his time, stayed in St. Augustine. [21]

    Correspondence Edit

    While in Marion during December and January, Harding and his team had a lot of correspondence they needed to conduct. The clerical staff, as well as principal staffers such as George B. Christian Jr., Harry M. Daugherty, and Judson Welliver conducted most of the correspondence, but some correspondence required the president-elect's attention. [22]

    Visitors Edit

    There were many individuals that visited Marion during December and January. [22] Some were potential Cabinet selections. However, there were many visits from other leading political figures. [22] Additionally, there were visits from lesser political figures, including local and state Republican leaders. [22]

    There were also visits from representatives of various groups, including business groups, farmer organizations, fraternal organizations, patriotic organizations, trade unions, and veterans organizations. [22] One example of this was when a sizable delegation from the Child Conservation League visited Harding on December 15 (Harding read this delegation a prepared statement, and secured their support for his proposal to create a federal public welfare department). [22] [23]

    While Harding had, by leaving Washington, D.C. for Marion, strongly signaled his intent to not play an active leadership role in the lame duck congressional session, he did receive occasional visits to Marion from Congressional Republican leaders seeking to discuss matters that were pending in the Congress. [16]

    On December 16, Vice President-elect Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace Coolidge visited Marion, and the vice president-elect met with the president-elect. [22] It was reported Harding and Coolidge discussed choices for Cabinet appointments, and that Harding, with strong reluctance, consented to Coolidge's request that Coolidge be allowed, as vice president, to regularly attend Cabinet meetings and take part in the administration's councils, which would be a departure from convention. [22] [24]

    Harding continued to receive a great number of visitors while in St. Augustine. [25]

    Policy formulation Edit

    Harding lacked firm positions on a number of policy issues, and had expressed his willingness to act as an instrument of the Republican Party. [5] He also was, in the words of Laurin L. Henry, "committed to the role of the accommodating and conciliating leader", and, therefore, sought the approval of party elders on all matters. [5] On policy maters involving Congress, Harding would seek out the views of both experts and leading legislators, and would seek to incorporate them into a party agenda. [5] Therefore, the process of formulating policy during the transition has been characterized by Laurin L. Henry as "a exercise in group thinking". [18]

    A major policy question was whether the United States would enter the League of Nations. [26] Harding gave some signs that he might allow the United States to enter the League of Nations, even requesting that Charles Evans Hughes revise the Treaty of Versailles in order to "secure its ratification in the Senate." [26] However, he also gave some signs that he would not support entering the League of Nations. [26]

    Selection of appointees Edit

    Albert J. Beveridge declined an offer to join Harding's Cabinet due to his belief that Harding might enter the United States into the League of Nations, which Beveridge strongly opposed. [26]

    By late December, with many Cabinet selections appearing to have been in place, news editorials speculated that Harding would soon make an early announcement of some of his Cabinet selections, in order help enable for designees to be able to both familiarize themselves with their pending jobs and work with Republican leaders of the lame duck Congress. At the end of the month, reporters anticipated such announcements, but they did not materialize. [27] [28]

    Most of Harding's choices, as rumors leaked of their selection, faced opposition from figures within his party. [29]

    Attorney general Edit

    By December 24, it was being reported that Harding desired to make Harry M. Daugherty his administration's attorney general. [30] This came despite Daugherty's lack of high standing in the field of law. [31] Senator James Wadsworth Jr., who visited Harding in Marion on December 19, would later recall that he and others had, to no avail, made efforts to persuade Harding against this selection. [31] [32] On February 21, Harding announced to reporters at the St. Augustine hotel where he was staying that Daugherty would be his choice for attorney general, and defended Daugherty's qualifications. [33] [34] On February 21, Harding announced to reporters at the St. Augustine hotel where he was staying that Daugherty would be his choice for attorney general, and defended Daugherty's qualifications. [33] [34]

    Postmaster general Edit

    By the final week of December, it appeared all but certain that Will H. Hays would be Harding's choice for postmaster general. [31] [35] [36] The prospective choice faced opposition from leaders in his home state, and many considered him inexperienced. [29]

    Secretary of agriculture Edit

    On December 20, Henry Cantwell Wallace met with Harding in Marion. He was selected for secretary of agriculture. [37] When rumor of this selection broke, it faced strong backlash from the meat packing industry, which had great sway in the Republican Party. [29]

    Secretary of commerce Edit

    On December 12, Herbert Hoover met with Harding in Marion. Hoover was selected for secretary of commerce. [38]

    Hoover was a choice that came with political risks. He was likely to be opposed by the right-wing of Republican Party for a number of reasons, including that Hoover was suspected to have only recently become a Republican, he was an internationalist who supported the League of Nations, a progressive, and had previously been a member of administration of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. [39] [40] Indeed, once rumors of selection began to circulate in mid-December, it encountered criticism. [40] [41] Among the old guard of the Republican Party, Hoover was, perhaps, the pick that received the strongest opposition. [29] Hoping to pressure Harding against this choice for secretary of commerce, Senator Philander C. Knox visited Harding in Marion on Decenter 30, and expressed both his and fellow Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Boies Penrose's opposition to both Hoover for secretary of commerce and Charles Evans Hughes for secretary of state. [29] Outrage against Hoover did not dissipate. [42]

    After an agreement was reached on February 24 between Harding and Hoover, it was announced that he would be Harding's choice for secretary of commerce. [43] [44]

    Secretary of the interior Edit

    On December 15, Albert B. Fall met with Harding in Marion. Harding would select him for secretary of the interior. [38] Harding had also contemplated Fall as a candidate for the position of secretary of state. [37] [45]

    Secretary of labor Edit

    In his 1960 book Presidential Transitions, Laurin L. Henry wrote that secretary of labor appears to have been the only cabinet position that Harding had not decided upon at least a preliminary favorite for by the end of December. [31]

    Perhaps under the influence of Pennsylvania U.S. Sentators Philander C. Knox and Boies Penrose, after Knox's late-December visit with him in Marion, Harding offered James J. Davis the position on January 10. [46]

    Secretary of the navy Edit

    By the final week of December, Harding had chosen John W. Weeks for be his secretary of the navy. [31] Harding would ultimately reassign him to the position of secretary of war after discussions with him in mid-January. [46] On January 17, Harding offered Frank Orren Lowden a choice between secretary of the navy or being a diplomat in charge of an embassy. [46] On January 27, Lowden sent Harding a telegram declining the position of secretary of the navy. On February 10, Harding asked him to reconsider the offer, only to have Lowden decline it again two days later. On February 14, Harding again asked Lowden to take the office, telling him that he was not simply offering the post as a courtesy to Lowden, but, rather, because Harding strongly desired to have someone from Illinois in his Cabinet. The next day, Lowden politely, but firmly, declined the position for a third time. After this, Harding came to terms with the reality that Lowden was not interested in the position. [42] [47] A.T. Hert was considered for the position afterwards. [48]

    Harding had decided on Edwin Denby for the position by late December, and this choice was seen as an utter surprise. [49] On February 26, Denby visited Haring in St. Augustine. The following day, at a press conference, he was introduced as Hoover's selection for the position. [50]

    Secretary of state Edit

    Harding had initially considered Albert B. Fall, who he selected for secretary of the interior, as a potential choice for secretary of state. [37] [45] He was strongly advised against this, however. [45]

    Charles Evans Hughes met with Harding in Marion on December 10, the first individual to visit Harding in Marion for a meeting once he returned. [51] Harding asked him to be his secretary of state. [52] [26] After consulting about the offer with his law partners in New York, Hughes wrote Harding on December 13 to accept the offer. [53] On December 22, Harding wrote Hughes to officially further confirm and finalize that he would be his choice for the job. [37]

    The choice encountered criticism from the right-wing of the party when rumors about it began to circulate in mid-December. [41] Hughes was criticized by the party establishment as being too much of an internationalist and too much of an independent. [29] Hoping to pressure Harding against this choice for secretary of state, Senator Philander C. Knox, himself a former secretary of state, visited Harding in Marion on Decenter 30, and expressed both his and fellow Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Boies Penrose's opposition to both Hughes for secretary of state and Herbert Hoover for secretary of commerce. [29]

    The uproar against Hughes largely dissipated by February. [42] On February 19, Hughes visited Harding in St. Augustine, and was presented at a press conference as Harding's choice for secretary of state. [42]

    Secretary of the treasury Edit

    It was known that Harding desired not to give the post of secretary of the treasury to an individual who would be a tool of Wall Street. [54] Frank Orren Lowden had received much speculation early on as a prospective choice for the position. [54] While Harding thought positively of Lowden, he was also interested in Charles G. Dawes for the position, who he offered the position to when they met met in Marion on December 20. [54] When rumors broke of Dawes being chosen for the position, the choice was opposed by William Hale Thompson, the Republican mayor of Dawes' home city of Chicago. It was also opposed by Republican members of the Chicago City Council. [29]

    Harding relented to right-wing pressure for a more right-wing secretary of the treasury, and selected Andrew Mellon instead to appease them. [55] Mellon visited Harding in Marion on January 8. [56] Mellon had, at that meeting, expressed reluctance towards holding the position. [55]

    Secretary of war Edit

    By late December, Harding was giving serious consideration to selecting Leonard Wood for secretary of war. Harding had been sending signals to Wood that he would be offered a cabinet position. In early January, significant Republican figures such as Henry L. Stimson were strongly lobbying on behalf of Wood for Harding to give him the position. [31] [57] The prospect of Wood holding the position, however, also faced criticism from others. One area of criticism was the appropriateness of appointing an individual directly from service as an active duty general to the civilian role of secretary of war. [29] By the second week of January, Wood was no longer being considered for Harding's Cabinet. [56]

    John W. Weeks, originally Harding's selection for secretary of the navy, [31] was reassigned to this position after discussions with him in mid-January. [46]

    Other positions Edit

    In late-November, while Harding was still conducting his initial post-election travels, there had been reports that he was planning to ask congress to create a new cabinet position, "secretary of education", to which he planned to appoint a woman, likely Harriet Taylor Upton. [58] This did not materialize. It would be more than a decade before the nation would come to see its first female Cabinet member with Frances Perkins in 1933. [59]

    Laurin L. Henry wrote in Presidential Transitions that patronage appointments seemed to be in Harry M. Daugherty's purview during the transition. [3]

    On February 27, at the same time that Edwin Denby was announced as secretary of the navy, it was also announced that Theodore Roosevelt Jr. would serve as assistant secretary of the navy. This was seen as a gesture of good faith toward's that Republican Party's Bull Moose-Wood faction. [50]

    It was announced in the closing days of the transition that George B. Christian Jr. would serve as secretary to the president and Charles E. Sawyer would serve as White House physician. [60]


    Warren G Harding’s Economic Policy

    During World War I, the top income tax rate had been increased from 7 percent to an incredible 73 percent. Andrew Mellon, secretary of the Treasury under both Harding and Coolidge, believed that such suffocating rates were damaging the economy. He also believed that such a high rate was actually yielding less revenue to the federal government than would a lower rate. (Mellon thereby anticipated the argument of economist Arthur Laffer and his “Laffer Curve,” which gained attention in the late 1970s.) The excessively high rates were causing the wealthy to shelter their incomes rather than expose themselves to such punishing taxation. If they invested their money and did well, the federal tax code allowed them to keep twenty-seven cents of every dollar earned, but if they invested their money and failed, they would lose 100 cents of every dollar. No thanks, said many Americans.

    A great many wealthy Americans were putting their money into tax-free state and municipal bonds—not an extraordinarily lucrative avenue, of course, but they yielded at least some return, and they were not taxable. Meanwhile, businesses were starved for capital. Money that might have been devoted to business investment was tied up in state bonds. The states were awash with cash to fund various projects of dubious merit, but the private sector was in trouble.

    Warren G Harding’s Economic Policy

    Mellon, therefore, considered tax relief essential to the nation’s economic health. Under his influence, rates were reduced across the board, for all tax brackets, throughout the course of the decade. The top rate, since it was so high, saw the greatest absolute reduction, from 73 to 40 and later to 25 percent, but the greatest proportional reductions occurred in the lower income brackets, where people saw most of their income tax burden eliminated altogether.

    As a result, not only did federal revenue actually increase—the unfortunate aspect of Mellon’s policy—but, much more important, economic activity multiplied many times over. These tax reductions undoubtedly played a role in bringing about the prosperity of the 1920s. In 1926, unemployment reached an incredible low of 1 percent.

    America prospered during the 1920s. American business set production records. Wages increased and working hours declined. And as if to underscore yet again the irrelevance of labor unionism, these outcomes occurred at a time when labor union membership was undergoing a rapid decline.

    Warren Harding had earned the Republican nomination in 1920 partly because he was utterly unlike Wilson. He had no grandiose plans to remake the world, and no particular desire to strengthen and enlarge the office of the presidency along Wilsonian lines. As Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge explained, “Harding will not try to be an autocrat but will do his best to carry on the government in the old and accepted Constitutional ways.”

    As for foreign affairs, Harding favored a modest and independent course: “Confident of our ability to work out our own destiny and jealously guarding our right to do so, we seek no part in directing the destinies of the Old World. We do not mean to be entangled. We will accept no responsibility except as our own judgment and conscience may determine.” Although certainly no genius, Harding was not the bumbling idiot that unsympathetic historians have made him out to be. His private papers reveal how well-read he was his favorite writers included Carlyle, Dickens, Pope, and Shakespeare.


    Ohio Gang

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    Ohio Gang, in U.S. history, a group of politicians who achieved high office during the presidential administration of Warren G. Harding and who betrayed their public trust through a number of scandals. Leader of the Ohio Gang was Harry M. Daugherty, a long-time political operative who was the principal manager of Harding’s political ascendancy and who was named attorney general of the United States. Other members of the gang included Albert B. Fall, secretary of the interior Will H. Hays, postmaster general Charles R. Forbes, head of the Veteran’s Bureau and Jess Smith, an official of the Justice Department.

    Early in 1924, shortly after Harding’s death, congressional committees began investigating reports of graft and corruption during the Harding administration. As a result of those investigations, Forbes was indicted and later convicted for fraud, conspiracy, and bribery in operating the Veteran’s Bureau. Fall was indicted, convicted, and imprisoned for his role in the Teapot Dome scandal and the Elk Hills oil-reserves scandal, becoming the first member of a president’s Cabinet to be convicted of a felony while in office. Daugherty was tried for conspiracy on charges of selling illegal liquor permits and pardons. He was acquitted but was forced to resign by President Calvin Coolidge. Jess Smith committed suicide.


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