Warren Gamaliel Harding Biography

Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States (1921–1923). A Republican from Ohio, Harding was a self-made newspaper publisher who served as a member of the Ohio Senate, 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio and United States Senator. While in the Senate, Harding protected alcohol interests and moderately supported women's suffrage. He was the first incumbent U.S. Senator and the first newspaper publisher to be elected president. He also originated the phrase "Founding Fathers".

Harding was the compromise candidate in the 1920 election, when he promised the nation a return to "normalcy", in the form of a strong economy, independent of foreign influence. Harding and the Republican Party had desired to move away from progressivism that dominated the early 20th century. He and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, defeated Democrat and fellow Ohioan James M. Cox and his New York running mate Franklin D. Roosevelt in the largest presidential popular vote landslide (60.36% to 34.19%) since popular vote totals were first recorded.

Harding initially desired to put the "best minds" on his cabinet, having appointed Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes. However, Harding rewarded his friends and contributors, known as the Ohio Gang, with powerful positions. Cases of corruption, including the notorious Teapot Dome scandal, occurred throughout his administration; one of his own cabinet and several of his appointees were eventually sent to prison. Harding did manage to clean up corruption in the Veterans Bureau Despite the scandals, many having been later investigated or publicized after his presidency, Harding had significant accomplishments.

Domestically, Harding signed the first child welfare program in the United States and dealt with striking workers in the mining and railroad industries, including supporting an eight hour work day. The unemployment rate dropped by half during Harding's administration. Harding also set up the Bureau of the Budget that helped curb and keep track of excessive federal spending. Harding advocated an anti-lynching bill to curb violence against African Americans, however, the Solid South Democrats and one prominent Republican blocked the legislation. In foreign affairs, Harding spurned the League of Nations, and officially ended World War I, having signed a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austria. Harding was the first president who successfully promoted and implemented a world Naval disarmament and urged U.S. participation in a proposed International Court.

In August 1923, Harding suddenly collapsed and died in California on a return trip from Alaska, and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge. His administration's many scandals have historically earned Harding a low ranking as president, but there has been growing recognition of his fiscal responsibility and endorsement of African-American civil rights. In 1998, journalist Carl S. Anthony stated Harding was a "modern figure" who embraced technology and culture and who was sensitive to the plights of minorities, women, and labor.