Ten Things to Know About Warren G. Harding

Interesting and Important Facts About Warren G. Harding

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 president, the Teapot Dome scandal occurred due to his putting his friends in power. Following are ten key facts that are important to understand when studying the life and presidency of Warren G. Harding.

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Son of Two Doctors

Warren G Harding, Twenty-Ninth President of the United States
Warren G Harding, Twenty-Ninth President of the United States. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, LC-USZ62-13029 DLC

Warren G. Harding's parents, George Tryon, and Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson, were both doctors. They originally lived on a farm but decided to go into medical practice as a means of providing their family with a better life. While Dr. Harding opened his office in a small town in Ohio, his wife practiced as a midwife.

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Savvy First Lady: Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe

Florence Harding, Wife of Warren G. Harding
Florence Harding, Wife of Warren G. Harding. Bettmann / Getty Images

Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe was born to wealth and at the age of nineteen had married to a man named Henry DeWolfe. However, soon after having a son, she left her husband. She made money giving piano lessons. One of her students was Harding's sister. She and Harding eventually married on July 8, 1891.

Florence helped make Harding's newspaper a success. She was also a great first lady, holding many well-received events. She opened the White House to the public.

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Extramarital Affairs

Letter from Warren G. Harding Which Mentions Carrie Fuller Philips With Whom He Had an Affair.
Letter from Warren G. Harding Which Mentions Carrie Fuller Philips With Whom He Had an Affair. FPG / Staff / Getty Images

Harding's wife found out that he was involved in a number of extramarital affairs. One was with a close friend of Florence, Carrie Fulton Phillips. Their affair was proved by a number of love letters. Interestingly, the Republican Party paid off Phillips and her family to keep them quiet when he was running for president.

A second affair that has not been proven was with a woman named Nan Britton. She claimed that her daughter was Harding's, and he agreed to pay child support for her care.

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Owned the Marion Daily Star Newspaper

Harding had many jobs before becoming the president. He was a teacher, an insurance, a reporter, and the owner of a newspaper called

Marion Daily Star

Harding decided to run for the Ohio State Senator in 1899. He was later elected as the lieutenant governor of Ohio. From 1915 to 1921, he served as a US Senator from Ohio.

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Dark Horse Candidate for President

Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States
Calvin Coolidge, Thirtieth President of the United States. General Photographic Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Harding was nominated to run for president when the convention could not decide on a candidate. His running mate was Calvin Coolidge. He ran under the theme "Return to Normalcy" against Democrat James Cox. This was the first election where women had the right to vote. Harding won handily with 61 percent of the popular vote.

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Fought for Fair Treatment of African-Americans

Harding spoke out against lynchings of African-Americans. He also ordered desegregation in the White House and the District of Columbia.

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Teapot Dome Scandal

Albert Fall, Secretary of the Interior During the Teapot Dome Scandal
Albert Fall, Secretary of the Interior During the Teapot Dome Scandal. Bettmann / Getty Images

One of Harding's failings was the fact that he put many friends in positions of power and influence with his election. Many of these friends caused issues for him and a few scandals arose. The most famous was the Teapot Dome scandal. Albert Fall, Harding's Secretary of the Interior, secretly sold the rights to oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming in exchange for money and cattle. He was caught and sentenced to jail.

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Officially Ended World War I

Harding was a strong opponent to the League of Nations that was part of the Treaty of Paris that ended World War I. Because of his opposition, the treaty was not ratified which meant that World War I had not officially ended. Early in his term, a join resolution was passed which officially ended the war.

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Numerous Foreign Treaties Entered

America entered a number of treaties with foreign nations during Harding's time in office. Three of the major ones were the Five Powers Treaty which dealt with halting battleship production for ten years, the Four Powers Treaty which focused on Pacific possessions and imperialism, and the Nine Powers Treaty which codified the Open Door Policy while respecting China's sovereignty.

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Pardoned Eugene V. Debs

Eugene V. Debs, Founder of the American Socialist Party
Eugene V. Debs, Founder of the American Socialist Party. Buyenlarge / Getty Images

While in office, Harding officially pardoned the socialist Eugene V. Debs who had been arrested for speaking out against World War I. He had been sent to jail for ten years but was pardoned after three years in 1921. Harding met with Debs at the White House after his pardon.