Warren Gamaliel Harding

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Harding, Warren Gamaliel

(gəmā`lēəl), 1865–1923, 29th President of the United States (1921–23), b. Blooming Grove (now Corsica), Ohio. After study (1879–82) at Ohio Central College, he moved with his family to Marion, Ohio, where he devoted himself to journalism. He bought the Marion Star, built up the newspaper, and became a member of the small group that dominated local affairs. He entered Ohio Republican politics and was (1899–1903) a member of the state legislature. Harding served as lieutenant governor (1904–5), but he was defeated (1910) as Republican candidate for governor. His talent for public speaking and his affable personality won Harding the support of the political leaders as well as of the people and enabled him to rise into national politics; he was picked to nominate William Howard TaftTaft, William Howard,
1857–1930, 27th President of the United States (1909–13) and 10th chief justice of the United States (1921–30), b. Cincinnati. Early Career

After graduating (1878) from Yale, he attended Cincinnati Law School.
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 at the convention of 1912, and he was elected (1914) to the U.S. Senate. His six-year stay in the Senate was undistinguished, for he followed the party whips on domestic legislation and Henry Cabot LodgeLodge, Henry Cabot,
1850–1924, U.S. senator (1893–1924), b. Boston. He was admitted to the bar in 1876. Before beginning his long career in the U.S. Senate he edited (1873–76) the North American Review,
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 on issues concerning the peace. In 1920, Harding was nominated for the presidency, largely through the efforts of a group of senators, after successive balloting for Gen. Leonard WoodWood, Leonard,
1860–1927, American general and administrator, b. Winchester, N.H. After practicing medicine briefly in Boston, he entered the army in 1885 and was made an assistant surgeon; in 1891 he was promoted to captain.
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 and Frank O. LowdenLowden, Frank Orren,
1861–1943, American political leader, b. Chisago co., Minn. He practiced law in Chicago after 1887 and gained extensive agricultural holdings in Illinois. A leading member of the Republican party from 1900, Lowden served in the U.S.
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 had deadlocked the Republican convention. His vague pronouncements on the League of Nations and his noncommittal utterances in the campaign helped him to win the election, defeating the Democratic candidate, James M. CoxCox, James Middleton,
1870–1957, American political leader and journalist, b. Butler co., Ohio. After serving on the editorial staff of the Cincinnati Enquirer, he bought the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News
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, by an impressive majority. The administration that followed was marked by one achievement, the calling of the Washington Conference (see naval conferencesnaval conferences,
series of international assemblies, meeting to consider limitation of naval armaments, settlement of the rules of naval war, and allied issues. The London Naval Conference
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). Harding, conscious of his own limitations, had promised to rely on a cabinet of "best minds," but unfortunately he chose—along with more capable advisers—men who lacked any sense of public responsibility. At the time of the legislative deadlock of 1923 came rumors of scandals in the Veterans' Bureau, in the Office of the Alien Property Custodian, and in the departments of the Interior and Justice. In the midst of these rumors, Harding died suddenly (Aug., 1923) in San Francisco on his return from a journey to Alaska. Thus he was not troubled by the exposure of the Teapot DomeTeapot Dome,
in U.S. history, oil reserve scandal that began during the administration of President Harding. In 1921, by executive order of the President, control of naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyo., and at Elk Hills, Calif., was transferred from the Navy Dept.
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 scandal and was spared the humiliation of seeing his appointees Secretary of the Interior Albert B. FallFall, Albert Bacon,
1861–1944, American cabinet official, b. Frankfort, Ky. He became a rancher in New Mexico and a political leader in that state. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1912, he served there until President Harding made him Secretary of the Interior in 1921.
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 and Attorney General Harry M. DaughertyDaugherty, Harry Micajah
, 1860–1941, American politician, b. Fayette co., Ohio. He became a successful corporation lawyer in Columbus, Ohio, and served (1890–94) in the state legislature. A leader of the Republican party in his state, he directed Warren G.
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 brought to the bar of justice. Lesser political and personal scandals were also exposed, including revelations of romantic affairs and of an illegitimate daughter (revealed in 1927, confirmed in 2015 by genetic testing), and Harding's administration has been stigmatized as one of the most corrupt in American history.


See biographies by S. H. Adams (1939, repr. 1964), F. Russell (1968), L. R. Wade (1989), and J. W. Dean (2004); R. C. Downes, The Rise of Warren Gamaliel Harding (1970); E. P. Trani and D. L. Wilson, The Presidency of Warren G. Harding (1977).