Warren Harding: 29th President: Wrought With Scandal

Updated on November 24, 2019
angela_michelle profile image

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be destined to repeat it.

Official Presidential Painting


Who Was Warren G Harding and What Did He Do?

Warren G. Harding was born on November 2, 1865, only seven months after the Civil War ended to George Tryon Harding and Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson. His family originally lived on a farm but wanted to be able to provide their family with a better life. They both became doctors; Phoebe worked as a midwife, while George had a doctor's office in their small town in Ohio.

His first job, at the age of 19, began when he and two of his friends bought a newspaper for $300. It was called the Marion Star, and Harding became the publisher. It was through the paper that his interest in politics grew because he met many political leaders as a result. Soon after, he married a woman who had divorced a few years earlier named Mrs. Florence Kling De Wolfe.

He was active in his church and even served as a trustee to Trinity Baptist Church. He worked for many prominent businesses as director and even led fraternal organizations and charitable enterprises. He also enjoyed playing many instruments. He claimed the only instruments he did not know how to play were the trombone and the E-flat cornet. Because of his love for music, he organized the Citizen's Cornet Band, which played for both Republican and Democratic rallies.

As the paper became more successful and his political interests grew, he became lieutenant governor of Ohio, and eventually a United States Senator in 1914. His kind smile and handsome appearance made him a very popular Senator and governor, which ultimately gained the Republicans' favor. Before running for office, he proved to have a compelling speaking voice with strong Republican views. He used these gifts as he supported William Taft in the election of 1912, although Taft lost the candidacy. Due to his vibrant speeches, Harding gained success in the Senate.

What Did "Return to Normalcy" Mean?

Republicans enjoyed his success as a senator and picked him to run for President in 1920. His campaign promised that the United States would "return to normalcy." Referring to the need for the United States to return to how it was before World War I. There were many restrictions placed on the people during that time, many were looking for a reprieve from the wartime stresses, and the following speech Warren gave before his nomination was a comfort:

"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...."

He was well-liked, but the one thing that caused people to resist him was his unknown stance on the League of Nations that Woodrow Wilson introduced years before. Thirty-one distinguished Republicans assured voters by signing a manifesto that stated voting for Harding was voting for the League of Nations, which put those in support of the League at ease. Unfortunately, Harding felt he should stay out of the League of Nations, and did not support this while in office.

First Cabinet Meeting

Hardings first meeting with his cabinet. Photo is dated from 1921 and may also be found in the library of Congress.
Hardings first meeting with his cabinet. Photo is dated from 1921 and may also be found in the library of Congress. | Source

What Is Warren G Harding Best Known For?

He won the election with a landslide of 60 percent of the popular vote and became the 29th President. He kept his promise, the best he could, taking off wartime control and cutting taxes. Unfortunately, he did not surround himself with the best of friends and placed people as Cabinet members that would cause a lot of ruckus. Big oil scandals broke out, Cabinet members were taking bribes, many arrested, and some other officials stole government funds. One of the most famous scandals was the Teapot Dome scandal.

The Teapot Dome scandal involved Albert Fall, Harding's good friend and Secretary of the Interior. Fall asked for cattle and money in trade for the rights to oil reserves that were in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, which was a significant violation against American rights. He was caught, which grieved Harding greatly, then arrested.

Not all of his presidency was fraught with scandal. He was very sensitive to both women and minorities and fought for the equality of both. He also embraced technology, encouraging advancements in that area. Republicans were pleased as they quickly got the President to sign the bills they tried to pass, which allowed the United States government to have an established Federal budget system, impose tight limitations upon immigrants, as well as to restore high protective tariffs.

By 1923, the people felt prosperous once more after the postwar depression. The newspapers were happy with the progress and even declared Harding, a wise statesman. The public thought that he fulfilled his campaign promise of "less government in business and more business in government."

What Happened to Harding?

During the summer of 1923, the scandals weighed heavy on his heart. He felt ashamed of those he put into power and those he called friends. He decided to tour America to express his deep regrets. During this trip, he suffered a heart attack in August of 1923 and died suddenly, never having told his side of the story nor finding out how the public felt about the scandals that occurred during his administration.

How President Warren Harding's Extramarital Affairs Changed History

Fun Facts

  • Both his parents were doctors.
  • He was known for having affairs. Harding's wife and family were "paid off" to keep quiet while he ran for president. One of his affairs may have resulted in a daughter, whom he agreed to pay child support for.
  • Harding was appalled by the treatment of African-Americans and even fought for desegregation in Washington, D.C.
  • Several scandals amongst his friends he put in the Cabinet occurred. Most famously, the Teapot Dome Scandal, which involved Albert Fall, Harding's Secretary of the Interior. He traded the rights to oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, in exchange for cattle and money. After being caught, he spent time in jail.
  • He bought a company, the Marion Daily Star, which was a failing newspaper company at the time of his purchase. He turned it into a very successful business with the help of his wife. His biggest competitor was his wife's father.

Basic Facts

November 2, 1865 - Ohio
President Number
Military Service
Wars Served
Age at Beginning of Presidency
56 years old
Term of Office
March 4, 1921 - August 2, 1923
How Long President
2 years
Calvin Coolidge
Age and Year of Death
August 2, 1923 (aged 57)
Cause of Death
cerebral hemmorhage
Warren G Harding's HouseLocated at 380 Mount Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH. From it, he conducted his successful front porch campaign for president in 1920. Built in 1891, it was Harding's home until he moved to White House in 1921. Now it is a National
Warren G Harding's HouseLocated at 380 Mount Vernon Avenue, Marion, OH. From it, he conducted his successful front porch campaign for president in 1920. Built in 1891, it was Harding's home until he moved to White House in 1921. Now it is a National | Source

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump


  • 10 Things to Know About Warren G. Harding. (n.d.). Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://americanhistory.about.com/od/warrengharding/tp/Ten-Things-To-Know-About-Warren-G-Harding.htm
  • Freidel, F., & Sidey, H. (2009). Warren G. Harding. Retrieved April 22, 2016, from https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/warrenharding
  • Sullivan, G. (2001). Mr. President: A book of U.S. presidents. New York: Scholastic.

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Angela Michelle Schultz


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)