Warren G. Harding  

29th President of the United States

Warren G. Harding was born in Corsica, Ohio, on November 2, 1865, He attended Ohio Central College, studied law, and became editor and publisher of the Marion Star, a country newspaper in Marion, Ohio. He married Florence Kling DeWolfe in 1891, who was considered a major force in his rise to national prominence. Harding entered politics as a dependent of Republican Senator Joseph Foraker and served in the Ohio Senate and as lieutenant governor of the state. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1914 but resigned from it in 1920 after winning a landslide election over Woodrow Wilson as the Republican candidate for president. At the time of his nomination, and for years afterward, he was widely regarded as having been the choice of the party machine bosses, but a more recent study has shown that Harding simply was the party's most logical and available nominee.
Harding turned away from the powerful executive leadership styles of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. As president, he delegated much authority to his cabinet chiefs, whom he chose for their national or regional constituencies or their weight in party councils. Among the outstanding members of his cabinet were Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, and Secretary of Agriculture Henry C. Wallace.
Harding's first task as president was to move the government away from wartime emergency conditions, and in this his administration was successful. In certain areas it was innovative, stepping up federal hiring during an employment slump, proposing agricultural legislation, and creating a Bureau of the Budget. In 1922 Secretary of State Hughes, with Harding's active support, scored a diplomatic triumph at the Washington Conference on naval disarmament, when the great international powers had agreed to limit their capital ship tonnage in fixed ratios. Harding also acted forcefully in the movement to limit the long hours of labor that were existent in the American steel industry.
On August 2, 1923, as rumors began to circulate about corruption in his administration, Harding died in San Francisco. He was succeeded by vice president Calvin Coolidge. Charges of misconduct in the Interior and Navy departments, the Veterans' Bureau, the Justice Department, and the Office of the Alien Property Custodian were disclosed in a series of investigations and trials. The scandals implicated both high officials and personal friends of Harding. Discovery of bribery, influence peddling, and outright theft overshadowed the positive achievements of the Harding administration. The president had spoken all too truly when he remarked that he could take care of his enemies but that he did not know how to cope with his friends.




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