Warren Harding

Warren Harding


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Warren Gamaliel Harding, the son of a doctor, was born in Blooming Grove, Ohio, on 2nd November, 1865. A journalist, Harding and his wife, Florence Kling DeWolfe took control of the Marion Daily Star in 1891. He joined the Republican Party and became a director in several local companies.

Harding was elected state senator (1899-1902), lieutenant governor (1903-04) and U.S. senator (1915-1921). Although his career was undistinguished, when the three leading candidates were deadlocked, Harding was asked to be the Republican presidential candidate in 1920. His isolationist foreign policy was popular with the electorate and he was voted into office by the widest popular margin in history.

Harding managed to persuade Congress to pass the highly protective Fordney-McCumber Tariff and measures to restrict immigration.

In March 1921 Harding appointed Albert Fall as Secretary of the Interior. Soon afterwards he persuaded Edwin Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, that he should take over responsibility for the Naval Reserves at Elk Hills and Teapot Dome. Later that year Fall decided that two of his friends, Harry F. Sinclair (Mammoth Oil Corporation) and Edward L. Doheny (Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company), should be allowed to lease part of these Naval Reserves.

Attempts were made to keep this deal secret but rumours began to circulate when it became known that Albert Fall was spending large sums of money. On 14th April, 1922, the Wall Street Journal reported that Fall had leased Teapot Dome to Harry F. Sinclair. Harding defended Fall by claiming that "the policy which has been adopted by the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Interior in dealing with these matters was submitted to me prior to the adoption thereof, and the policy decided upon and the subsequent acts have at all times had my entire approval."

Warren Gamaliel Harding died suddenly on 2nd August, 1923, in San Francisco, and was replaced by his vice-president, Calvin Coolidge.

President Harding was one of the most kindly and amiable of men. It seemed to me that instinctively he reposed too much confidence in his friends, and that he shrank from giving hurt. That generous judgment did not account for the developments of the following months which shocked the American people.

In the Senate he had been a dependable conservative in all of his thought and his votes.

In the White House he symbolized Ohio political machine politics. There came to Washington on the heels of this new administration a curious crew, with an amazingly blunted, repulsive conception of public service and the responsibilities of public office.

Even more significant, the currents of national thought reversed themselves. Great wealth took possession of the government. It was reflected in Mr. Harding's selection of a cabinet. It characterized all political utterances. The stock phrase, "Less government in business, and more business in government" was, I recognize, a natural reaction against the necessary regimentation of people in wartime. But it brought into the places of high responsibility men who could

not be expected to have a far-sighted view of public service, combining qualities of unselfishness and high devotion to public trust.

It was not long before Washington, the most sensitive of all American cities to scandal, buzzed with gossip.

In the spring of 1922 rumors reached parties interested that a lease had been or was about to be made of Naval Reserve No. 3 in the state of Wyoming, - popularly known, from its local designation, as the Teapot Dome. This was one of three great areas known to contain petroleum in great quantity which had been set aside for the use of the Navy - Naval Reserves No. 1 and No. 2 in California by President Taft in 1912, and No. 3 by President Wilson in 1915. The initial steps toward the creation of these reserves - the land being public, that is, owned by the government - were

taken by President Roosevelt, who caused to be instituted a study to ascertain the existence and location of eligible areas, as a result of which President Taft in 1909 withdrew the tracts in question from disposition under the public land laws. These areas were thus set apart with a view to keeping in the ground a great reserve of oil available at some time in the future, more or less remote, when an adequate supply for the Navy could not, by reason of the failure or depletion of the world store, or the exigencies possibly of war, be procured or could be procured only at excessive cost; in other words to ensure the Navy in any exigency the fuel necessary to its efficient operation.

From the time of the original withdrawal order, private interests had persistently endeavored to assert or secure some right to exploit these rich reserves, the effort giving rise to a struggle lasting throughout the Wilson administration. Some feeble attempt was made by parties having no claim to any of the territory to secure a lease of all or a portion of the reserves, but in the main the controversy was waged by claimants asserting rights either legal or equitable in portions of the reserves antedating the withdrawal orders, on the one hand, and the Navy Department on the other. In that struggle Secretary Lane was accused of being unduly friendly to the private claimants, Secretary Daniels being too rigidly insistent on keeping the areas intact. President Wilson apparently supported Daniels in the main in the controversy which became acute and Lane retired from the cabinet, it is said, in consequence of the differences which had thus arisen.

The reserves were created, in the first place, in pursuance of the policy of conservation, the advocates of which, a militant body, active in the Ballinger affair, generally supported the attitude of Secretary Daniels and President Wilson.

They too became keen on the report of the impending lease of Teapot Dome. Failing to get any definite or reliable information at the departments, upon diligent inquiry, Senator Kendrick of Wyoming introduced and had passed by the Senate on April 16, 1922, a resolution calling on the secretary of the interior for information as to the existence of the lease which was the subject of the rumors, in response to which a letter was transmitted by the acting secretary of the interior on April 21, disclosing that a lease of the entire Reserve No. 3 was made two weeks before to the Mammoth Oil Company organized by Harry Sinclair, a spectacular oil operator. This was followed by the adoption by the Senate on April 29, 1922, of a resolution introduced by Senator LaFollette directing the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys to investigate the entire subject of leases of the naval oil reserves and calling on the secretary of the interior for all documents and full information in relation to the same.

In the month of June following, a cartload of documents said to have been furnished in compliance with the resolution was dumped in the committee rooms, and a letter from Secretary Fall to the President in justification of the lease of the Teapot Dome and of leases of limited areas on the other reserves was by him sent to the Senate. I was importuned by Senators LaFollette and Kendrick to assume charge of the investigation, the chairman of the committee and other majority members being believed to be unsympathetic, and assented the more readily because the Federal Trade

Commission had just reported that, owing to conditions prevailing in the oil fields of Wyoming and Montana, the people of my state were paying prices for gasoline in excess of those prevailing anywhere else in the Union.


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.


    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]

    Harding 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 is born

    On November 2, 1865, Warren Gamaliel Harding, the future 29th American president, is born in Corsica, Ohio.

    In 1891, Harding married Florence Mabel Kling De Wolfe. Florence was influential throughout Harding’s political career and it was at her urging that Harding, who was working as an editor of the Marion Star newspaper, entered politics. In fact, she was once quoted as saying, “I know what’s best for the President. I put him in the White House. He does well when he listens to me and poorly when he does not.” With this staunch behind-the-scenes support, Harding was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1915. Though this first political success was overshadowed by his 35-year-old son’s death from alcoholism and tuberculosis that same year, Harding’s rapid rise to political prominence continued, culminating in his election to the presidency in 1920.

    As president, Harding was a strong supporter of new technologies. In 1922, he became the first president to have his voice transmitted by radio when he addressed a crowd at the dedication of a memorial site for Francis Scott Key, the composer of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The broadcast heralded a revolutionary shift in how presidents addressed the American public. Early in 1923, he installed the first radio in the White House and that June, he recorded a speech on an early “phonograph.”

    Harding’s presidency is perhaps best remembered, however, for scandal. In the Teapot Dome Scandal of 1922-23, his secretary of the interior, Albert Fall, was accused of leasing oil-rich government-owned land at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, to business interests in return for financial “gifts” amounting to almost $500,000. Fall was later found guilty of bribery and sentenced to one year in prison, earning the unfortunate distinction of becoming the first cabinet member to go to prison for misconduct while in office. Despite battling charges of corruption within his administration, Harding managed to pursue legislation for social change. He contributed to the advancement of civil rights for African Americans and women. As a senator and progressive Republican candidate for the presidency, Harding tried to pass an anti-lynching law in 1920, which was defeated, and, unlike his predecessors, vigorously supported suffrage for women.


    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’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.


    Contents

    Republican nomination Edit

    By early 1920, General Leonard Wood, Illinois governor Frank Lowden, and Senator Hiram Johnson of California had emerged as the frontrunners for the Republican nomination in the upcoming presidential election. [1] [2] Some in the party began to scout for such an alternative, and Harding's name arose, despite his reluctance, due to his unique ability to draw vital Ohio votes. [3] Harry Daugherty, who became Harding's campaign manager, and who was sure none of these candidates could garner a majority, convinced Harding to run after a marathon discussion of six-plus hours. [4] Daugherty's strategy focused on making Harding liked by or at least acceptable to all wings of the party, so that Harding could emerge as a compromise candidate in the likely event of a convention deadlock. [5] He struck a deal with Oklahoma oilman Jake L. Hamon, whereby 18 Oklahoma delegates whose votes Hamon had bought for Lowden were committed to Harding as a second choice if Lowden's effort faltered. [6] [7]

    By the time the 1920 Republican National Convention began in June, a Senate sub-committee had tallied the monies spent by the various candidates, with totals as follows: Wood – $1.8 million Lowden – $414,000 Johnson – $194,000 and Harding – $114,000 the committed delegate count at the opening gavel was: Wood – 124 Johnson – 112 Lowden – 72 Harding – 39. [8] Still, at the opening, less than one-half of the delegates were committed, [9] and many expected the convention to nominate a compromise candidate like Pennsylvania Senator Philander C. Knox, Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, or 1916 nominee Charles Evans Hughes. [10] No candidate was able to corral a majority after nine ballots. [11] After the convention adjourned for the day, Republican Senators and other leaders, who were divided and without a singular political boss, met in Room 404 of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. After a nightlong session, these party leaders tentatively concluded Harding was the best possible compromise candidate this meeting has often been described as having taken place in a "smoke-filled room." [12] The next day, on the tenth ballot, Harding was nominated for president. Delegates then selected Massachusetts governor Calvin Coolidge to be his vice-presidential running mate. [13]

    General election Edit

    Harding's opponent in the 1920 election was Ohio governor and newspaperman James M. Cox, who had won the Democratic nomination in a 44-ballot convention battle. Harding rejected the Progressive ideology of the Wilson administration in favor of the laissez-faire approach of the McKinley administration. [14] He ran on the promise of a "return to normalcy," calling for the end to an era which he saw as tainted by war, internationalism, and government activism. [15] He stated:

    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. [16]

    The 1920 election was the first in which women could vote nationwide, as well as the first to be covered on the radio. [17] Led by Albert Lasker, the Harding campaign executed a broad-based advertising campaign that used modern advertising techniques for the first time in a presidential campaign. [18] Using newsreels, motion pictures, sound recordings, billboard posters, newspapers, magazines, and other media, Lasker emphasized and enhanced Harding's patriotism and affability. Five thousand speakers were trained by advertiser Harry New and sent across the country to speak for Harding. Telemarketers were used to make phone conferences with perfected dialogues to promote Harding, and Lasker had 8,000 photos of Harding and his wife distributed around the nation every two weeks. Farmers were sent brochures decrying the alleged abuses of Democratic agriculture policies, while African Americans and women were given literature in an attempt to take away votes from the Democrats. [19] Additionally, celebrities like Al Jolson and Lillian Russell toured the nation on Harding's behalf. [20]

    Harding won a decisive victory, receiving 404 electoral votes to Cox's 127. He took 60 percent of the nationwide popular vote, the highest percentage ever recorded up to that time, while Cox received just 34 percent of the vote. [21] Campaigning from a federal prison, Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs received 3% percent of the national vote. Harding won the popular vote by a margin of 26.2%, the largest margin since the election of 1820. He swept every state outside of the "Solid South", and his victory in Tennessee made him the first Republican to win a former Confederate state since the end of Reconstruction. [22] In the concurrent congressional elections, the Republicans picked up 63 seats in the House of Representatives. [23] The incoming 67th Congress would be dominated by Republicans, though the party was divided among various factions, including an independent-minded farm bloc from the Midwest. [24]

    Harding was inaugurated as the nation's 29th president on March 4, 1921, on the East Portico of the United States Capitol. Chief Justice Edward D. White administered the oath of office. Harding placed his hand on the Washington Inaugural Bible as he recited the oath. This was the first time that a U.S. president rode to and from his inauguration in an automobile. [25] In his inaugural address Harding reiterated the themes of his campaign, declaring:

    My Countrymen: When one surveys the world about him after the great storm, noting the marks of destruction and yet rejoicing in the ruggedness of the things which withstood it, if he is an American he breathes the clarified atmosphere with a strange mingling of regret and new hope. . Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it. [26]

    Literary critic H.L. Mencken was appalled, announcing that:

    He writes the worst English I have ever encountered. It reminds me of a string of wet sponges it reminds me of tattered washing on the line it reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. [27]

    Cabinet Edit

    The Harding Cabinet
    OfficeNameTerm
    PresidentWarren G. Harding1921–1923
    Vice PresidentCalvin Coolidge1921–1923
    Secretary of StateCharles Evans Hughes1921–1923
    Secretary of the TreasuryAndrew Mellon1921–1923
    Secretary of WarJohn W. Weeks1921–1923
    Attorney GeneralHarry M. Daugherty1921–1923
    Postmaster GeneralWill H. Hays1921–1922
    Hubert Work1922–1923
    Harry Stewart New1923
    Secretary of the NavyEdwin Denby1921–1923
    Secretary of the InteriorAlbert B. Fall1921–1923
    Hubert Work1923
    Secretary of AgricultureHenry Cantwell Wallace1921–1923
    Secretary of CommerceHerbert Hoover1921–1923
    Secretary of LaborJames J. Davis1921–1923

    Harding selected numerous prominent national figures for his ten-person Cabinet. Henry Cabot Lodge, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, suggested that Harding appoint Elihu Root or Philander C. Knox as Secretary of State, but Harding instead selected former Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes for the position. Harding appointed Henry C. Wallace, an Iowan journalist who had advised Harding's 1920 campaign on farm issues, as Secretary of Agriculture. After Charles G. Dawes declined Harding's offer to become Secretary of the Treasury, Harding assented to Senator Boies Penrose's suggestion to select Pittsburgh billionaire Andrew Mellon. Harding used Mellon's appointment as leverage to win confirmation for Herbert Hoover, who had led the U.S. Food Administration under Wilson and who became Harding's Secretary of Commerce. [5]

    Rejecting public calls to appoint Leonard Wood as Secretary of War, Harding instead appointed Lodge's preferred candidate, former Senator John W. Weeks of Massachusetts. He selected James J. Davis for the position of Secretary of Labor, as Davis satisfied Harding's criteria of being broadly acceptable to labor but being opposed to labor leader Samuel Gompers. Will H. Hays, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was appointed Postmaster General. Grateful for his actions at the 1920 Republican convention, Harding offered Frank Lowden the post of Secretary of the Navy. After Lowden turned down the post, Harding instead appointed former Congressman Edwin Denby of Michigan. New Mexico Senator Albert B. Fall, a close ally of Harding's during their time in the Senate together, became Harding's Secretary of the Interior. [5]

    Although Harding was committed to putting the "best minds" on his Cabinet, he often awarded other appointments to those who had contributed to his campaign's victory. Wayne Wheeler, leader of the Anti-Saloon League, was allowed by Harding to dictate who would serve on the Prohibition Commission. [28] Harding appointed Harry M. Daugherty as Attorney General because he felt he owed Daugherty for running his 1920 campaign. After the election, many people from the Ohio area moved to Washington, D.C., made their headquarters in a little green house on K Street, and would be eventually known as the "Ohio Gang". [29] Graft and corruption charges permeated Harding's Department of Justice bootleggers confiscated tens of thousands cases of whiskey through bribery and kickbacks. [30] The financial and political scandals caused by the Ohio Gang and other Harding appointees, in addition to Harding's own personal controversies, severely damaged Harding's personal reputation and eclipsed his presidential accomplishments. [31]

    Press corps Edit

    According to biographers, Harding got along better with the press than any other previous president, being a former newspaperman. Reporters admired his frankness, candor, and his confessed limitations. He took the press behind the scenes and showed them the inner circle of the presidency. In November 1921, Harding also implemented a policy of taking written questions from reporters during a press conference. [32]

    Harding appointed four justices to the Supreme Court of the United States. After the death of Chief Justice Edward Douglass White, former President William Howard Taft lobbied Harding for the nomination to succeed White. Harding acceded to Taft's request, and Taft joined the court in June 1921. [33] Harding's next choice for the Court was conservative former Senator George Sutherland of Utah, who had been a major supporter of Taft in 1912 and Harding in 1920. Sutherland succeeded John Hessin Clarke in September 1922 after Clarke resigned. Two Supreme Court vacancies arose in 1923 due to the death of William R. Day and the resignation of Mahlon Pitney. On Taft's recommendation, Harding nominated railroad attorney and conservative Democrat Pierce Butler to succeed Day. Progressive senators like Robert M. La Follette unsuccessfully sought to defeat Butler's nomination, but Butler was confirmed. On the advice of Attorney General Daugherty, Harding appointed federal appellate judge Edward Terry Sanford of Tennessee to succeed Pitney. [34] Bolstered by these appointments, the Taft Court upheld the precedents of the Lochner era and largely reflected the conservatism of the 1920s. [35] Harding also appointed 6 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, 42 judges to the United States district courts, and 2 judges to the United States Court of Customs Appeals.

    Revenue Act of 1921 Edit

    Harding assumed office while the nation was in the midst of a postwar economic decline known as the Depression of 1920–21. He strongly rejected proposals to provide for federal unemployment benefits, believing that the government should leave relief efforts to charities and local governments. [36] He believed that the best way to restore economic prosperity was to raise tariff rates and reduce the government's role in economic activities. [37] His administration's economic policy was formulated by Secretary of the Treasury Mellon, who proposed cuts to the excess profits tax and the corporate tax. [38] The central tenet of Mellon's tax plan was a reduction of the surtax, a progressive income tax that only affected high-income earners. [39] Mellon favored the wealthy holding as much capital as possible, since he saw them as the main drivers of economic growth. [40] Congressional Republican leaders shared Harding and Mellon's desire for tax cuts, and Republicans made tax cuts and tariff rates the key legislative priorities of Harding's first year in office. Harding called a special session of the Congress to address these and other issues, and Congress convened in April 1921. [41]

    Despite opposition from Democrats and many farm state Republicans, Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1921 in November, and Harding signed the bill into law later that month. The act greatly reduced taxes for the wealthiest Americans, though the cuts were not as deep as Mellon had favored. [42] The act reduced the top marginal income tax rate from 73 percent to 58 percent, [43] lowered the corporate tax from 65 percent to 50 percent, and provided for ultimate elimination of the excess profits tax. [44] [45] Revenues to the treasury decreased substantially. [46]

    Wages, profits, and productivity all made substantial gains during the 1920s, and economists have differed as to whether Revenue Act of 1921 played a major role in the strong period of economic growth after the Depression of 1920–21. Economist Daniel Kuehn has attributed the improvement to the earlier monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, and notes that the changes in marginal tax rates were accompanied by an expansion in the tax base that could account for the increase in revenue. [47] Libertarian historians Schweikart and Allen argue that Harding's tax and economic policies in part ". produced the most vibrant eight year burst of manufacturing and innovation in the nation's history," [48] Recovery did not last long. Another economic contraction began near the end of Harding's presidency in 1923, while tax cuts were still underway. A third contraction followed in 1927 during the next presidential term. [49] Some economists have argued that the tax cuts resulted in growing economic inequality and speculation, which in turn contributed to the Great Depression. [50]

    Fordney–McCumber Tariff Edit

    Like most Republicans of his era, Harding favored protective tariffs designed to shield American businesses from foreign competition. [51] Shortly after taking office, he signed the Emergency Tariff of 1921, a stopgap measure primarily designed to aid American farmers suffering from the effects of an expansion in European farm imports. [52] The emergency tariff also protected domestic manufacturing, as it included a clause to prevent dumping by European manufacturers. [53] Harding hoped to sign a permanent tariff into law by the end of 1921, but heated congressional debate over tariff schedules, especially between agricultural and manufacturing interests, delayed passage of such a bill. [54]

    In September 1922, Harding enthusiastically signed the Fordney–McCumber Tariff Act. [55] The protectionist legislation was sponsored by Representative Joseph W. Fordney and Senator Porter J. McCumber, and was supported by nearly every congressional Republican. [54] The act increased the tariff rates contained in the previous Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act of 1913, to the highest level in the nation's history. Harding became concerned when the agriculture business suffered economic hardship from the high tariffs. By 1922, Harding began to believe that the long-term effects of high tariffs could be detrimental to national economy, despite the short-term benefits. [56] The high tariffs established under Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover have historically been viewed as a contributing factor to the Wall Street Crash of 1929. [44] [57]

    Bureau of the Budget Edit

    Harding believed the federal government should be fiscally managed in a way similar to private sector businesses. [58] He had campaigned on the slogan, "Less government in business and more business in government." [59] As the House Ways and Means Committee found it increasingly difficult to balance revenues and expenditures, Taft had recommended the creation of a federal budget system during his presidency. Businessmen and economists coalesced around Taft's proposal during the Wilson administration, and by 1920, both parties favored it. Reflecting this goal, in June 1921, Harding signed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921. [60]

    The act established the Bureau of the Budget to coordinate the federal budgeting process. [61] At the head of this office was the presidential budget director, who was directly responsible to the president rather than to the Secretary of Treasury. The law also stipulated that the president must annually submit a budget to Congress, and all presidents since have had to do so. [62] Additionally, the General Accounting Office (GAO) was created to assure congressional oversight of federal budget expenditures. The GAO would be led by the Comptroller General, who was appointed by Congress to a term of fifteen years. [63] Harding appointed Charles Dawes as the Bureau of the Budget's first director. Dawes's first year in office saw government spending reduced by $1.5 billion, a 25 percent reduction, and he presided over another 25 percent reduction the following year. [64]

    Immigration restriction Edit

    In the first two decades of the 20th century, immigration to the United States had increased, with many of the immigrants coming from Southern Europe and Eastern Europe rather than Western Europe. Many Americans viewed these new immigrants with suspicion, and World War I and the First Red Scare further heightened nativist fears. [65] The Per Centum Act of 1921, signed by Harding on May 19, 1921, reduced the numbers of immigrants to 3 percent of a country's represented population based on the 1910 Census. The act, which had been vetoed by President Wilson in the previous Congress, also allowed unauthorized immigrants to be deported. Harding and Secretary of Labor James Davis believed that enforcement had to be humane, and Harding often allowed exceptions granting reprieves to thousands of immigrants. [66] Immigration to the United States fell from roughly 800,000 in 1920 to approximately 300,000 in 1922. [53] Though the act was later superseded by the Immigration Act of 1924, it marked the establishment of the National Origins Formula. [66]

    Veterans Edit

    Many World War I veterans were unemployed or otherwise economically distressed when Harding took office. To aid these veterans, the Senate considered passing a law that gave veterans a $1 bonus for each day they had served in the war. [67] Harding opposed payment of a bonus to veterans, arguing that much was already being done for them and that the bill would "break down our Treasury, from which so much is later on to be expected." [68] The Senate sent the bonus bill back to committee, [68] but the issue returned when Congress reconvened in December 1921. A bill providing a bonus, without a means of funding it, was passed by both houses in September 1922. Harding vetoed it, and the veto was narrowly sustained. [69]

    In August 1921, Harding signed the Sweet Bill, which established a new agency known as the Veterans Bureau. After World War I, 300,000 wounded veterans were in need of hospitalization, medical care, and job training. To handle the needs of these veterans, the new agency incorporated the War Risk Insurance Bureau, the Federal Hospitalization Bureau, and three other bureaus that dealt with veteran affairs. [70] Harding appointed Colonel Charles R. Forbes, a decorated war veteran, as the Veteran Bureau's first director. The Veterans Bureau later was incorporated into the Veterans Administration and ultimately the Department of Veterans Affairs. [71]

    Farm acts Edit

    Farmers were among the hardest hit during the Depression of 1920–21, and prices for farm goods collapsed. [72] The presence of a powerful bipartisan farm bloc led by Senator William S. Kenyon and Congressman Lester J. Dickinson ensured that Congress would address the farm crisis. Harding established the Joint Commission on Agricultural Industry to make recommendations on farm policy, and he signed a series of farm- and food-related laws in 1921 and 1922. [73] Much of the legislation emanated from President Woodrow Wilson's 1919 Federal Trade Commission report, which investigated and discovered "manipulations, controls, trusts, combinations, or restraints out of harmony with the law or the public interest" in the meat packing industry. The first law was the Packers and Stockyards Act, which prohibited packers from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices. Two amendments were made to the Farm Loan Act of 1916 that President Wilson had signed into law, which had expanded the maximum size of rural farm loans. The Emergency Agriculture Credit Act authorized new loans to farmers to help them sell and market livestock. The Capper–Volstead Act, signed by Harding on February 18, 1922, protected farm cooperatives from anti-trust legislation. The Future Trading Act was also enacted, regulating puts and calls, bids, and offers on futures contracting. Later, on May 15, 1922, the Supreme Court ruled this legislation unconstitutional, [44] but Congress passed the similar Grain Futures Act in response. Though sympathetic to farmers and deferential to Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, Harding was uncomfortable with many of the farm programs since they relied on governmental action, and he sought to weaken the farm bloc by appointing Kenyon to a federal judgeship in 1922. [74]

    Highways and radio Edit

    During the 1920s, use of electricity became increasingly common, and mass production of the automobile stimulated industries such as highway construction, rubber, steel, and construction. [75] Congress had passed the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 to aid state road-building programs, and Harding favored a further expansion of the federal role in road construction and maintenance. He signed into law the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1921, which allowed states to select interstate and intercounty roads that would receive federal funds. [76] From 1921 to 1923, the federal government spent $162 million on America's highway system, infusing the U.S. economy with a large amount of capital. [77]

    Harding and Secretary of Commerce Hoover embraced the emerging medium of the radio. [78] In June 1922, Harding became the first president that the American public heard on the radio, delivering a speech in honor of Francis Scott Key. [17] Secretary of Commerce Hoover took charge of the administration's radio policy. He convened a conference of radio broadcasters in 1922, which led to a voluntary agreement for licensing of radio frequencies through the Commerce Department. Both Harding and Hoover believed that something more than an agreement was needed, but Congress was slow to act, not imposing radio regulation until 1927. Hoover hosted a similar conference on aviation, but, as with the radio, was unable to win passage of legislation that would have provided for regulation air travel. [79]

    Labor issues Edit

    Union membership had grown during World War I, and by 1920 union members constituted approximately one-fifth of the labor force. Many employers reduced wages after the war, and some business leaders hoped to destroy the power of organized labor in order to re-establish control over their employees. These policies led to increasing labor tension in the early 1920s. [80] Widespread strikes marked 1922, as labor sought redress for falling wages and increased unemployment. In April, 500,000 coal miners, led by John L. Lewis, struck over wage cuts. Mining executives argued that the industry was seeing hard times Lewis accused them of trying to break the union. Harding convinced the miners to return to work while a congressional commission looked into their grievances. [81] He also sent out the National Guard and 2,200 deputy U.S. marshals to keep the peace. [82] On July 1, 1922, 400,000 railroad workers went on strike. Harding proposed a settlement that made some concessions, but management objected. Attorney General Daugherty convinced Judge James H. Wilkerson to issue a sweeping injunction to break up the strike. Although there was public support for the Wilkerson injunction, Harding felt it went too far, and had Daugherty and Wilkerson amend it. The injunction succeeded in ending the strike however, tensions remained high between railroad workers and management for years. [83]

    By 1922, the eight-hour day had become common in American industry. One exception was in steel mills, where workers labored through a twelve-hour workday, seven days a week. Hoover considered this practice barbaric, and convinced Harding to convene a conference of steel manufacturers with a view to ending it. The conference established a committee under the leadership of U.S. Steel chairman Elbert Gary, which in early 1923 recommended against ending the practice. Harding sent a letter to Gary deploring the result, which was printed in the press, and public outcry caused the manufacturers to reverse themselves and standardize the eight-hour day. [84]

    African Americans Edit

    Harding spoke of equal rights in his speech when accepting the Republican nomination in 1920:

    "No majority shall abridge the rights of a minority [. ] I believe the Black citizens of America should be guaranteed the enjoyment of all their rights, that they have earned their full measure of citizenship bestowed, that their sacrifices in blood on the battlefields of the republic have entitled them to all of freedom and opportunity, all of sympathy and aid that the American spirit of fairness and justice demands.” [85]

    In June 1921, three days after the massive Tulsa race massacre President Harding spoke at the all-black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. “Despite the demagogues, the idea of our oneness as Americans has risen superior to every appeal to mere class and group,” Harding declared. “And so, I wish it might be in this matter of our national problem of races.” He honored Lincoln alumni who had been among the more than 367,000 black soldiers to fight in the Great War. One Lincoln graduate led the 370th U.S. Infantry, the “Black Devils.” Col. F.A. Denison was the sole black commander of a regiment in France. The President called education critical to solving the issues of racial inequality, but he challenged the students to shoulder their shared responsibility to advance freedom. The government alone, he said, could not magically “take a race from bondage to citizenship in half a century.” He spoke about Tulsa and offered up a simple prayer: “God grant that, in the soberness, the fairness, and the justice of this country, we never see another spectacle like it.” [86]

    Notably in an age of severe racial intolerance during the 1920s, Harding did not hold any racial animosity, according to historian Carl S. Anthony. [87] In a speech on October 26, 1921, given in segregated Birmingham, Alabama Harding advocated civil rights for African Americans, becoming the first president to openly advocate black political, educational, and economic equality during the 20th century. [87] In the Birmingham speech, Harding called for African Americans to have equal educational opportunities and greater voting rights in the South. The white section of the audience listened in silence while the black section of the segregated audience cheered. [88] Harding, however, openly stated that he was not for black social equality in terms of racial mixing or intermarriage. [89] Harding also spoke on the Great Migration, stating that blacks migrating to the North and West to find employment had actually harmed race relations between blacks and whites. [89]

    The three previous presidents had dropped African Americans from several government positions they had previously held, and Harding reversed this policy. [90] African Americans were appointed to high-level positions in the Departments of Labor and Interior, and numerous blacks were hired in other agencies and departments. [91] Trani and Wilson write that Harding did not emphasize appointing African Americans to positions they had traditionally held prior to Wilson's tenure, partly out of a desire to court white Southerners. [92] Harding also disappointed black supporters by not abolishing segregation in federal offices, and through his failure to comment publicly on the Ku Klux Klan. [93]

    Harding supported Congressman Leonidas Dyer's federal anti-lynching bill, known as the Dyer Bill, which passed the House of Representatives in January, 1922. [94] When it reached the Senate floor in November 1922, it was filibustered by Southern Democrats, and Senator Lodge withdrew it so as to allow a ship subsidy bill Harding favored to be debated. Many blacks blamed Harding for the Dyer bill's defeat Harding biographer Robert K. Murray noted that it was hastened to its end by Harding's desire to have the ship subsidy bill considered. [95]

    Sheppard–Towner Maternity Act Edit

    On November 21, 1921, Harding signed the Sheppard–Towner Maternity Act, the first major federal government social welfare program in the U.S. The law was sponsored by Julia Lathrop, America's first director of the U.S. Children's Bureau. The Sheppard–Towner Maternity Act funded almost 3,000 child and health centers, where doctors treated healthy pregnant women and provided preventive care to healthy children. Child welfare workers were sent out to make sure that parents were taking care of their children. Many women were given career opportunities as welfare and social workers. Although the law remained in effect only eight years, it set the trend for New Deal social programs during the 1930s. [96] [97]

    Deregulation Edit

    As part of Harding's belief in limiting the government's role in the economy, he sought to undercut the power of the regulatory agencies that had been created or strengthened during the Progressive Era. Among the agencies in existence when Harding came to office were the Federal Reserve (charged with regulating banks), the Interstate Commerce Commission (charged with regulating railroads) and the Federal Trade Commission (charged with regulating other business activities, especially trusts). Harding staffed the agencies with individuals sympathetic to business concerns and hostile to regulation. By the end of his tenure, only the Federal Trade Commission resisted conservative domination. [98] Other federal organizations, like the Railroad Labor Board, also came under the sway of business interests. [99] In 1921, Harding signed the Willis Graham Act, which effectively rescinded the Kingsbury Commitment and allowed AT&T to establish a monopoly in the telephone industry. [100]

    Release of political prisoners Edit

    On December 23, 1921 Harding released Socialist leader Eugene Debs from prison. Debs had been convicted under sedition charges brought by the Wilson administration for his opposition to the draft during World War I. [101] Despite many political differences between the two candidates, Harding commuted Debs' sentence to time served, though he did not grant Debs an official presidential pardon. Debs' failing health was a contributing factor for the release. Harding granted a general amnesty to 23 prisoners, alleged anarchists and socialists, who had been active during the First Red Scare. [44] [102]

    1922 mid-term elections Edit

    Entering the 1922 midterm congressional election campaign, Harding and the Republicans had followed through on many of their campaign promises. But some of the fulfilled pledges, like cutting taxes for the well-off, did not appeal to the electorate. The economy had not returned to normalcy, with unemployment at 11 percent, and organized labor was angry over the outcome of the strikes. In the 1922 elections, Republicans suffered major losses in both the House and the Senate. Though they kept control of both chambers, they retained only a narrow majority in the House at the start of the 68th Congress in 1923. [103] The elections empowered the progressive wing of the party led by Robert La Follette, who began investigations into Harding administration. [104]

    European relations Edit

    Harding took office less than two years after the end of World War I, and his administration faced several issues in the aftermath of that conflict. Harding made it clear when he appointed Hughes as Secretary of State that the former justice would run foreign policy, a change from Wilson's close management of international affairs. [105] Harding and Hughes frequently communicated, and the president remained well-informed regarding the state of foreign affairs, but he rarely overrode any of Hughes's decisions. [106] Hughes did have to work within some broad outlines after taking office, Harding hardened his stance on the League of Nations, deciding the U.S. would not join even a scaled-down version of the League. [107]

    With the Treaty of Versailles unratified by the Senate, the U.S. remained technically at war with Germany, Austria, and Hungary. Peacemaking began with the Knox–Porter Resolution, declaring the U.S. at peace and reserving any rights granted under Versailles. Treaties with Germany, Austria and Hungary, each containing many of the non-League provisions of the Treaty of Versailles, were ratified in 1921. [107] This still left the question of relations between the U.S. and the League. Hughes' State Department initially ignored communications from the League, or tried to bypass it through direct communications with member nations. By 1922, though, the U.S., through its consul in Geneva, was dealing with the League. The U.S. refused to participate in any League meeting with political implications, but it sent observers to sessions on technical and humanitarian matters. [108] Harding stunned the capital when he sent to the Senate a message supporting the participation of the U.S. in the proposed Permanent Court of International Justice (also known as the "World Court"). His proposal was not favorably received by most senators, and a resolution supporting U.S. membership in the World Court was drafted and promptly buried in the Foreign Affairs Committee. [109]

    By the time Harding took office, there were calls from foreign governments for the reduction of the massive war debt owed to the United States, and the German government sought to reduce the reparations that it was required to pay. The U.S. refused to consider any multilateral settlement. Harding sought passage of a plan proposed by Mellon to give the administration broad authority to reduce war debts in negotiation, but Congress, in 1922, passed a more restrictive bill. Hughes negotiated an agreement for Britain to pay off its war debt over 62 years at low interest, effectively reducing the present value of the obligations. This agreement, approved by Congress in 1923, set a pattern for negotiations with other nations. Talks with Germany on reduction of reparations payments would result in the Dawes Plan of 1924. [110]

    During World War I, the U.S. had been among the nations that had sent troops to Russia after the Russian Revolution. Afterwards, President Wilson refused to provide diplomatic recognition to Russia, which was led by a Communist government following the October Revolution. Commerce Secretary Hoover, with considerable experience of Russian affairs, took the lead on Russian policy. He supported aid to and trade with Russia, fearing U.S. companies would be frozen out of the Soviet market. [111] When famine struck Russia in 1921, Hoover had the American Relief Administration, which he had headed, negotiate with the Russians to provide aid. According to historian George Herring, the American relief effort may have saved as many as 10 million people from starvation. U.S. businessman such as Armand Hammer invested in the Russian economy, but many of these investments failed due to various Russian restrictions on trade and commerce. Russian and (after the 1922 establishment of the Soviet Union) Soviet leaders hoped that these economic and humanitarian connections would lead to recognition of their government, but Communism's extreme unpopularity in the U.S. precluded this possibility. [112]

    Disarmament Edit

    At the end of World War I, the United States had the largest navy and one of the largest armies in the world. With no serious threat to the United States itself, Harding and his successors presided over the disarmament of the navy and the army. The army shrank to 140,000 men, while naval reduction was based on a policy of parity with Britain. [113] Seeking to prevent an arms race, Senator William Borah won passage of a congressional resolution calling for a 50 percent reduction of the American Navy, the British Navy, and the Japanese Navy. With Congress's backing, Harding and Hughes began preparations to hold a naval disarmament conference in Washington. [114] The Washington Naval Conference convened in November 1921, with representatives from the U.S., Japan, Britain, France, Italy, China, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Secretary of State Hughes assumed a primary role in the conference and made the pivotal proposal—the U.S. would reduce its number of warships by 30 if Great Britain decommissioned 19 ships and Japan decommissioned 17 ships. [115] A journalist covering the conference wrote that "Hughes sank in thirty-five minutes more ships than all of the admirals of the world have sunk in a cycle of centuries. [116]

    The conference produced six treaties and twelve resolutions among the participating nations, which ranged from limiting the tonnage of naval ships to custom tariffs. [117] The United States, Britain, Japan, and France reached the Four-Power Treaty, in which each country agreed to respect the territorial integrity of one another in the Pacific Ocean. Those four powers as well as Italy also reached the Washington Naval Treaty, which established a ratio of battleship tonnage that each country agreed to respect. In the Nine-Power Treaty, each signatory agreed to respect the Open Door Policy in China, and Japan agreed to return Shandong to China. [118] The treaties only remained in effect until the mid-1930s, however, and ultimately failed. Japan eventually invaded Manchuria and the arms limitations no longer had any effect. The building of "monster warships" resumed and the U.S. and Great Britain were unable to quickly rearm themselves to defend an international order and stop Japan from remilitarizing. [119] [120]

    Latin America Edit

    Intervention in Latin America had been a minor campaign issue Harding spoke against Wilson's decision to send U.S. troops to the Dominican Republic, and attacked the Democratic vice presidential candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, for his role in the Haitian intervention. Secretary of State Hughes worked to improve relations with Latin American countries who were wary of the American use of the Monroe Doctrine to justify intervention at the time of Harding's inauguration, the U.S. also had troops in Cuba and Nicaragua. The troops stationed in Cuba to protect American interests were withdrawn in 1921, but U.S. forces remained in the other three nations through Harding's presidency. [121] In April 1921, Harding gained the ratification of the Thomson–Urrutia Treaty with Colombia, granting that nation $25,000,000 as settlement for the U.S.-provoked Panamanian revolution of 1903. [122] The Latin American nations were not fully satisfied, as the U.S. refused to renounce interventionism, though Hughes pledged to limit it to nations near the Panama Canal and to make it clear what the U.S. aims were. [123]

    The U.S. had intervened repeatedly in Mexico under Wilson, and had withdrawn diplomatic recognition, setting conditions for reinstatement. The Mexican government under President Álvaro Obregón wanted recognition before negotiations, but Wilson and his final Secretary of State, Bainbridge Colby, refused. Both Hughes and Secretary of the Interior Fall opposed recognition Hughes instead sent a draft treaty to the Mexicans in May 1921, which included pledges to reimburse Americans for losses in Mexico since the 1910 revolution there. Obregón was unwilling to sign a treaty before being recognized, and he worked to improve the relationship between American businesses and Mexico, reaching agreement with creditors and mounting a public relations campaign in the United States. This had its effect, and by mid-1922, Fall was less influential than he had been, lessening the resistance to recognition. The two presidents appointed commissioners to reach a deal, and the U.S. recognized the Obregón government on August 31, 1923, just under a month after Harding's death, substantially on the terms proffered by Mexico. [124]

    When Harding assembled his administration following the 1920 election, he appointed several longtime allies and campaign contributors to prominent political positions in control of vast amounts of government money and resources. Some of the appointees used their new powers to exploit their positions for personal gain. Although Harding was responsible for making these appointments, it is unclear how much, if anything, Harding himself knew about his friends' illicit activities. No evidence to date suggests that Harding personally profited from such crimes, but he was apparently unable to prevent them. "I have no trouble with my enemies", Harding told journalist William Allen White late in his presidency, "but my damn friends, they're the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!" [109] The only scandal which was openly discovered during Harding's lifetime was in the Veteran's Bureau. [125] Yet gossip about various scandals became rampant after the suicides of Charles Cramer and Jess Smith. Harding responded aggressively to all of this with a mixture of grief, anger and perplexity. [ citation needed ]

    Teapot Dome Edit

    The most notorious scandal was Teapot Dome, most of which came to light after Harding's death. This affair concerned an oil reserve in Wyoming that was covered by a teapot-shaped rock formation. For years, the country had taken measures to ensure the availability of petroleum reserves, particularly for the navy's use. [126] On February 23, 1923, Harding issued Executive Order # 3797, which created the Naval Petroleum Reserve Number 4 in Alaska. By the 1920s, it was clear that petroleum was important to the national economy and security, and the reserve system was designed to keep the oil under government jurisdiction rather than subject to private claims. [127] Management of these reserves was the subject of multi-dimensional arguments—beginning with a turf battle between the Secretary of the Navy and the Interior Department. [128] The strategic reserves issue was also a debate topic between conservationists and the petroleum industry, as well as those who favored public ownership versus private control. [129] Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall brought to his office significant political and legal experience, in addition to heavy personal debt, incurred in his obsession to expand his personal estate in New Mexico. He also was an avid supporter of the private ownership and management of reserves. [130]

    Fall contracted Edward Doheny of Pan American Corporation to build storage tanks in exchange for drilling rights. It later came to light that Doheny had made significant personal loans to Fall. [131] The secretary also negotiated leases for the Teapot Dome reserves to Harry Ford Sinclair of the Consolidated Oil Corporation in return for guaranteed oil reserves to the credit of the government. Again, it later emerged that Sinclair had personally made concurrent cash payments of over $400,000 to Fall. [130] These activities took place under the watch of progressive and conservationist attorney, Harry A. Slattery, acting for Gifford Pinchot and Robert La Follette. [132] Fall was ultimately convicted in 1931 of accepting bribes and illegal no-interest personal loans in exchange for the leasing of public oil fields to business associates. [133] In 1931, Fall was the first cabinet member in history imprisoned for crimes committed while in office. [134] Paradoxically, while Fall was convicted for taking the bribe, Doheny was acquitted of paying it. [135]

    Justice Department Edit

    Harding's appointment of Harry M. Daugherty as Attorney General received more criticism than any other. As Harding's campaign manager, Daugherty's Ohio lobbying and back room maneuvers with politicians were not considered the best qualifications. [136] Historian M. R. Werner referred to the Justice Department under Harding and Daugherty as "the den of a ward politician and the White House a night club". On September 16, 1922, Minnesota Congressman Oscar E. Keller brought impeachment charges against Daugherty. On December 4, formal investigation hearings, headed by congressman Andrew J. Volstead, began against Daugherty. The impeachment process, however, stopped, since Keller's charges that Daugherty protected interests in trust and war fraud cases could not be substantially proven. [137]

    Daugherty, according to a 1924 Senate investigation into the Justice Department, authorized a system of graft between aides Jess Smith and Howard Mannington. Both Mannington and Smith allegedly took bribes to secure appointments, prison pardons, and freedom from prosecution. A majority of these purchasable pardons were directed towards bootleggers. Cincinnati bootlegger George L. Remus, allegedly paid Jess Smith $250,000 to not prosecute him. Remus, however, was prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to Atlanta prison. Smith tried to extract more bribe money from Remus to pay for a pardon. The prevalent question at the Justice Department was "How is he fixed?" [138] Another alleged scandal involving Daugherty concerned the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corp., which supposedly overcharged the federal government by $2.3 million on war contracts. [139] Captain Hazel Scaife tried to bring the company to trial, but was blocked by the Department of Justice. At this time, Daugherty was said to have owned stock in the company and was even adding to these holdings, though he was never charged in the matter. [140]

    Daugherty hired William J. Burns to run the Justice Department's Bureau of Investigation. [141] A number of inquisitive congressmen or senators found themselves the object of wire taps, rifled files, and copied correspondence. [142] Burns' primary operative was Gaston B. Means, a reputed con man, who was known to have fixed prosecutions, sold favors, and manipulated files in the Justice Department. [143] Means, who acted independently, took direct instructions and payments from Jess Smith, without Burn's knowledge, to spy on congressmen. Means hired a woman, Laura Jacobson, to spy on Senator Thaddeus Caraway, a critic of the Harding administration. Means also was involved with "roping" bootleggers. [137]

    Daugherty remained in his position during the early days of the Calvin Coolidge administration, then resigned on March 28, 1924, amidst allegations that he accepted bribes from bootleggers. Daugherty was later tried and acquitted twice for corruption. Both juries hung—in one case, after 65 hours of deliberation. Daugherty's famous defense attorney, Max Steuer, blamed all corruption allegations against Daugherty on Jess Smith, who by then had committed suicide. [144]

    Jess W. Smith Edit

    Daugherty's personal aide, Jess W. Smith, was a central figure in government file manipulation, paroles and pardons, influence peddling—and even served as bag man. [145] During Prohibition, pharmacies received alcohol permits to sell alcohol for medical purposes. According to Congressional testimony, Daugherty arranged for Jess Smith and Howard Mannington to sell these permits to drug company agents who really represented bootleggers. The bootleggers, having obtained a permit could buy cases of whiskey. Smith and Mannington split the permit sales profits. Approximately 50,000 to 60,000 cases of whiskey were sold to bootleggers at a net worth of $750,000 to $900,000. Smith supplied bootleg whiskey to the White House and the Ohio Gang house on K Street, concealing the whiskey in a briefcase for poker games. [30] [146]

    Eventually, rumors of Smith's abuses—free use of government cars, going to all night parties, manipulation of Justice Department files—reached Harding. Harding withdrew Smith's White House clearance and Daugherty told him to leave Washington. On May 30, 1923, Smith's dead body was found at Daugherty's apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. William J. Burns immediately took Smith's body away and there was no autopsy. Historian Francis Russell, concluding this was a suicide, indicates that a Daugherty aide entered Smith's room moments after a noise awoke him, and found Smith on the floor with his head in a trash can and a revolver in his hand. Smith allegedly purchased the gun from a hardware store shortly before his death, after Daugherty verbally abused him for waking him up from a nap. [147] [148]

    Veterans' bureau Edit

    Charles R. Forbes, the energetic Director of the Veterans Bureau, disregarded the dire needs of wounded World War I veterans to procure his own wealth. [149] After his appointment, Forbes convinced Harding to issue executive orders that gave him control over veterans' hospital construction and supplies. [125] To limit corruption in the Veterans' Bureau, Harding insisted that all government contracts be by public notice, but Forbes provided inside information to his co-conspirators to ensure their bids succeeded. [71] Forbes' main task at the Veterans bureau, having an unprecedented $500 million yearly budget, was to ensure that new hospitals were built around the country to help the 300,000 wounded World War I veterans. [150] Forbes defrauded the government of an estimated $225 million by increasing construction costs from $3,000 to $4,000 per hospital bed. [151]

    In early 1922, Forbes went on tours, known as joy-rides, of new hospital construction sites around the country and the Pacific Coast. On these tours, Forbes allegedly received traveling perks and alcohol kickbacks, took a $5,000 bribe in Chicago, and made a secret code to ensure $17 million in government construction hospital contracts with corrupt contractors. [152] Intent on making more money, on his return to the U.S. Capitol Forbes immediately began selling valuable hospital supplies under his control in large warehouses at the Perryville Depot. [153] The government had stockpiled huge amounts of hospital supplies during the first World War, which Forbes unloaded for a fraction of their cost to the Boston firm of Thompson and Kelly. [154] [155] Charles F. Cramer, Forbes' legal council to the Veterans Bureau, rocked the nation's capital when he committed suicide in 1923. [156] [157] Cramer, at the time of his death, was being investigated by a Senate committee on charges of corruption. [158] [159]

    Forbes faced resistance in the form of General Charles E. Sawyer, chairman of the Federal Hospitalization Board, who represented controlling interests in the valuable hospital supplies. [160] Sawyer, who was also Harding's personal physician, told Harding that Forbes was selling valuable hospital supplies to an insider contractor. [161] After issuing two orders for the sales to stop, Harding finally summoned Forbes to the White House and demanded Forbes' resignation, since Forbes had been insubordinate in not stopping the shipments. [162] Harding, however, was not yet ready to announce Forbes' resignation and let him flee to Europe on the "flimsy pretext" that he would help disabled U.S. Veterans in Europe. [163] [164] Harding placed a reformer, Brigadier General Frank T. Hines, in charge of the Veterans Bureau. Hines immediately cleared up the mess left by Forbes. When Forbes returned to the U.S., he visited Harding at the White House in the Red Room. During the meeting, Harding angrily grabbed Forbes by the throat, shook him vigorously, and exclaimed "You double-crossing bastard!" [165] In 1926, Forbes was brought to trial and convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. He received a two-year prison sentence and was released in November 1927. [166]

    Other agencies Edit

    On June 13, 1921, Harding appointed Albert D. Lasker chairman of the United States Shipping Board. Lasker, a cash donor and Harding's general campaign manager, had no previous experience with shipping companies. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 had allowed the Shipping Board to sell ships made by the U.S. Government to private American companies. A congressional investigation revealed that while Lasker was in charge, many valuable steel cargo ships, worth between $200 and $250 a ton, were sold for as low as $30 a ton to private American shipping companies without an appraisal board. J. Harry Philbin, a manager in the sales division, testified at the congressional hearing that under Lasker's authority U.S. ships were sold, ". as is, where is, take your pick, no matter which vessel you took." Lasker resigned from the Shipping Board on July 1, 1923. [167]

    Thomas W. Miller, head of the Office of Alien Property, was convicted of accepting bribes. Miller's citizenship rights were taken away and he was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine. After Miller served 13 months of his sentence, he was released on parole. President Herbert Hoover restored Miller's citizenship on February 2, 1933. [168] Roy Asa Haynes, Harding's Prohibition Commissioner, ran the patronage-riddled Prohibition bureau, which was allegedly corrupt from top to bottom. [169] The bureau's "B permits" for liquor sales became tantamount to negotiable securities, as a result of being so widely bought and sold among known violators of the law. [170] The bureau's agents allegedly made a year's salary from one month's illicit sales of permits. [169]

    Harding's lifestyle at the White House was fairly unconventional compared to his predecessor. Upstairs at the White House, in the Yellow Oval Room, Harding allowed bootleg whiskey to be freely served to his guests during after-dinner parties at a time when the President was supposed to enforce Prohibition. One witness, Alice Longworth, stated that trays, ". with bottles containing every imaginable brand of whiskey stood about." [171] Some of this alcohol had been directly confiscated from the Prohibition department by Jess Smith, assistant to U.S. Attorney General Harry Daugherty. Mrs. Harding, also known as the "Duchess", mixed drinks for the guests. [146] Harding played poker twice a week, smoked and chewed tobacco. Harding allegedly won a $4,000 pearl necktie pin at one White House poker game. [172] Although criticized by Prohibitionist advocate Wayne B. Wheeler over Washington, D.C. rumors of these "wild parties", Harding claimed his personal drinking inside the White House was his own business. [173] Though Mrs. Harding did keep a little red book of those who had offended her, the executive mansion was now once again open to the public for events including the annual Easter egg roll. [174]

    Western tour Edit

    Though Harding wanted to run for a second term, his health began to decline during his time in office. He gave up drinking, sold his "life-work," the Marion Star, in part to regain $170,000 previous investment losses, and had Daugherty make him a new will. Harding, along with his personal physician Dr. Charles E. Sawyer, believed getting away from Washington would help relieve the stress of being president. By July 1923, criticism of the Harding Administration was increasing. Prior to his leaving Washington, the president reported chest pains that radiated down his left arm. [175] [176] In June 1923, Harding set out on a journey, which he dubbed the "Voyage of Understanding". [177] The president planned to cross the country, go north to Alaska Territory, journey south along the West Coast, then travel by navy ship through the Panama Canal, to Puerto Rico, and to return to Washington at the end of August. [178] The trip would allow him to speak widely across the country in advance of the 1924 campaign, and allow him some rest [179] away from Washington's oppressive summer heat. [177]

    Harding's political advisers had given him a physically demanding schedule, even though the president had ordered it cut back. [180] In Kansas City, Harding spoke on transportation issues in Hutchinson, Kansas, agriculture was the theme. In Denver, he spoke on Prohibition, and continued west making a series of speeches not matched by any president until Franklin Roosevelt. In addition to making speeches, he visited Yellowstone and Zion National Parks, [181] and dedicated a monument on the Oregon Trail at a celebration organized by venerable pioneer Ezra Meeker and others. [182] On July 5, Harding embarked on USS Henderson in Washington state. The first president to visit Alaska, he spent hours watching the dramatic landscapes from the ship's deck. [183] After several stops along the coast, the presidential party left the ship at Seward to take the Alaska Central Railway to McKinley Park and Fairbanks, where he addressed a crowd of 1,500 in 94 °F (34 °C) heat. The party was to return to Seward by the Richardson Trail but due to Harding's fatigue, it went by train. [184]

    Arriving via Vancouver Harbor on July 26, Harding became the first sitting U.S. president to visit Canada. He was greeted dock-side by the premier of British Columbia and the mayor of Vancouver. Thousands lined the streets of Vancouver to watch as the motorcade of dignitaries moved through the city to Stanley Park, where Harding spoke to an audience estimated at over 40,000. In his speech he proclaimed, "You are not only our neighbor, but a very good neighbor, and we rejoice in your advancement and admire your independence no less sincerely than we value your friendship." [185] Harding also visited a golf course, but completed only six holes before being fatigued. He was not successful in hiding his exhaustion one reporter deemed him so tired a rest of mere days would not be sufficient to refresh him. [186]

    Death Edit

    Upon returning to the U.S. on July 27, Harding participated in a series of events in Seattle. After reviewing the navy fleet in the harbor and riding in a parade through downtown, he addressed a crowd of over 30,000 Boy Scouts at a jamboree in Woodland Park and then addressed 25,000 people at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium. That evening, in what would be his last official public event, Harding addressed the Seattle Press Club. [187] By the end of the evening Harding was near collapse, and he went to bed early. The next day, all tour stops scheduled between Seattle and San Francisco were cancelled, and the presidential entourage proceeded directly there. [185] Arriving in the city on the morning of July 29, Harding felt well enough that he insisted on walking from the train to the car. However, shortly after arriving at the Palace Hotel he suffered a relapse. [188] Upon examining him, doctors found that not only was Harding's heart causing problems, but he also had a serious case of pneumonia. All public engagements were cancelled. [ citation needed ]

    When treated with caffeine and digitalis, Harding seemed to improve. [185] Reports that the released text of his July 31 speech had received a favorable reception also buoyed his spirits, and by the afternoon of August 2, doctors allowed him to sit up in bed. That evening, around 7:30 pm, while Florence Harding was reading a flattering article to the president from The Saturday Evening Post titled "A Calm Review of a Calm Man", [189] he began twisting convulsively and collapsed. Doctors attempted stimulants, but were unable to revive him, and President Harding died at the age of 57. Although initially attributed to a cerebral hemorrhage, the president's death was most likely the result a heart attack. [188] [190] [191]

    Harding's death came as a great shock to the nation. The president was liked and admired, and the press and public had followed his illness closely, and been reassured by his apparent recovery. [192] Harding was returned to his train in a casket for a journey across the nation followed closely in the newspapers. Nine million people lined the tracks as Harding's body was taken from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., and after services there, home to Marion, Ohio, for burial. [193] In Marion, Warren Harding's body was placed on a horse-drawn hearse, which was followed by President Coolidge and Chief Justice Taft, then by Harding's wife and father. [194] They followed it through the city, past the Star building where the presses stood silent, and at last to the Marion Cemetery, where the casket was placed in the cemetery's receiving vault. [195] [196]

    Immediately after Harding's death, Mrs. Harding returned to Washington, D.C. and, according to historian Francis Russell, burned as much of President Harding's correspondence and documents, both official and unofficial, as she could get. [197] However, most of Harding's papers survived because Harding's personal secretary, George Christian, disobeyed Florence Harding's instructions. [198]

    Energized by his 1920 landslide victory, Harding felt the "pulse" of the nation and for the 28 months in office he remained popular both nationally and internationally. [201] Herbert Hoover, while serving in Harding's cabinet, was confident the president would serve two terms and return the world to normalcy. Later, in his own memoirs, he stated that Harding had "neither the experience nor the intellect that the position needed." [201] Trani and Wilson describe Harding as "an ineffective leader who suffered both personal and political scandal." [202]

    Harding has been traditionally ranked as one of the worst presidents. In a 1948 poll conducted by Harvard University historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr., the first notable survey of scholars' opinions of the presidents, Harding ranked last among the 29 presidents considered. In a 1962 poll conducted by Schlesinger, he was ranked last again, 31 out of 31. His son, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., conducted another poll in 1996 once again, Harding was last, ranked 39 out of 39. In 2010, a Siena College Research Institute survey of 238 presidential scholars ranked Harding 41st among the 43 men who had been president, between Franklin Pierce (40th) and James Buchanan (42nd) Andrew Johnson was judged the worst. [203] Harding was also considered the third worst president in a 2002 Siena poll. Siena polls of 1982, 1990 and 1992 ranked him last. A 2008 study of presidential rankings for The Times placed Harding at number 34 [204] and a 2009 C-SPAN survey ranked Harding at 38. [205] A 2017 C-Span poll of historians ranked Harding as the fourth-worst president, [206] as did a 2018 poll of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section. [207]

    Some historians have defended Harding, with many arguing that he was merely below average rather than a total failure. [208] Historian Robert K. Murray wrote that, "in establishing the political philosophy and program for an entire decade, [Harding's] 882 days in office were more significant than all but a few similar short periods in the nation's existence." [208] Authors Marcus Raskin and Robert Spero, in 2007, also believed that Harding was underrated, and admired Harding's quest for world peace after World War I and his successful naval disarmament among strongly armed nations, including France, Britain, and Japan. [209] In his 2010 book The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game, presidential historian Alvin S. Felzenberg, ranking presidents on several criteria, ranked Harding 26th out of 40 presidents considered. [210]


    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.


    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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