America's Overlooked President:Warren G Harding Biography
Imagine being the most important individual in the world, but later finding that your legacy had been dashed to pieces. If Warren G. Harding were to come back from his dreadful deathbed, this is what he would find. Today, Warren Harding is a forgotten president. It is not a surprise that a president who created more scandals than laws would deserve a fate such as this.
Harding was not a model president. He slowed progressive movements, increased profits to the citizens who least needed them, unknowingly controlled the nation with common criminals, and splashed an enormous ink stain on his personal life. However, this is the man the great grandparents of today’s Americans voted into office, and that will never change. It is true that Harding’s career was shady, and as bleak as the midnight sun, but the nation has not forgotten Richard Nixon. Harding may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but the modern world can learn lessons from him, and his life story.
Many of the events that occurred in Harding’s time are repeating in today’s news, and many of those events are likely to occur again. The nation must remember the past in order to propel itself into the future. America cannot make the same blunders it made 90 years ago, today or in the future. They must remember the frightful fall of Warren G. Harding. Imagine being trapped in a world where people had to please everyone else.
Starting as a young boy that was the world in which young Warren Harding lived in. His work had to be perfect, and if it didn’t dazzle his teachers and parents, it wasn’t worth a dime. He was so much of a perfectionist that Warren’s father thought that would have been better off born a “gal”, (UVA). This leap for perfection paid off in the future, and before he knew it, the entire town of Marion, Ohio (Warren’s birthplace) respected him. They certainly should have been.
In fact, Warren owned practically the entire town, (Sidley). Not only was Warren the proprietor of the majority of businesses in town, but he also owned and wrote for his own newspaper, and even formed a local choir group, (Sidley). The people of Marion and nearby communities looked up to Harding, and learned to respect his ideas and perspectives on recent events. Bearing in mind his popularity, Harding decisively decided to enter politics, where he hoped to further expand that popularity. Harding’s political career would probably never have surged if not for his massive desire to achieve excellence and satisfy the people around him. Warren Harding’s early political career was vital for his rise to the presidency.
Both help from wealthy businessmen, who he had befriended when he too was a wealthy businessman, and his charisma toward his fellow Ohio residents, played a key role in Harding’s first political debut. Harding first burst onto the political scene when he was elected to the US Senate, (Sidley). Harding called his days at the Senate, “The best days of my life”, (Sidley). The majority of his fellow businessmen had selected the Republican Party as the party of their choice. Jumping onto the bandwagon, Harding also chose the Republican Party. This is just another example of how Harding wanted to please the people around him, in this case, his business friends.
Eventually, Harding was promoted to the status of Lieutenant General. Harding found this endorsement bittersweet due to his fondness for the Senate. However, Harding’s career in politics was not always on the rise. Feeling confident about his status in Ohio, Harding came to the conclusion that he could take a larger role in running the state. Determined to succeed, Harding ran for governor of Ohio. This attempt will fall flat.
Despite an embarrassing fall, it would be the last defeat he would have to bear. By the time Warren Harding rose to power on the national stage, America was yearning for stability. World War I had just expired, and many Americans were disgruntled over the war policies of the Woodrow Wilson Administration. An abundant amount American blood had been shed, and temporary war time jobs were closing. Most Americans felt that it was time for the nation to recover, and wanted a president who would not slow down the recovery process.
Attempting to match the desires of the people, the Republicans chose Harding to run for President. To the untrained eye, Harding was the ideal post-war president. He was not too flashy, was not likely to make hasty and bold decisions, and would not plunge the nation into foreign affairs. While these assumptions were true, the nation failed to consider the possibility that Harding would have issues of a different kind, issues from within his own country, and even from within his own presidential cabinet. Harding claimed to desire “stability” and “a return to normalcy”, (Andrews, 76). However, once Harding became president, America would be anything but normal.
Oblivious to the future ahead, Americans showered Harding with a huge victory. Nearly 60% of Americans voted for him. Only because of Harding’s successful early political career, his charisma, and his cries for stability, had Harding been able to stumble into the White House with America backing him the entire way. Harding’s four years as president will forever be known as some of the most disappointing and discouraging in recent history. During his inauguration, Harding proclaimed, “America’s present is need is not heroics, but healing…not revolution but restoration.” (Harding).
Harding’s critics were constantly poking fun at his speeches. Bill McAdoo claimed that they were “An army of pompous phrases moving across a landscape in search of an idea,” (Andrews, 77). Not only could Harding not write effective speeches, but apparently could not propose laws either. Compared to other presidents, Harding ranks near the bottom of the list when it came to lawmaking. The laws he did manage to pass however, were specially designed to “Slow a progression of progressive movements,” (PBS).
Harding also limited immigration, and raised a tariff on the goods imported into the country. However, he does deserve credit on the issue of racial equality. Harding openly discussed the idea in front of a crowd of 30,000 inside the heart of the trouble, Alabama, (UVA). Despite his willingness to support racial equality, Harding was “on the fence” when it came to women’s rights. It appears that Harding knew that supporting women’s rights was the correct side to take at the time, but he failed to openly support it, (UVA). A successful president should not back down to public opinion, but should make the correct decision and do so boldly.
Harding, however, failed to do this. Harding was also biased when making decisions. Having a background in the wealthy business industry, Harding chose to cut taxes to the very rich of America instead of the Americans that truly needed the breaks, such as the poor, (PBS). This was the exact opposite of what the country needed at the time, and strangely enough caused wages to drop for employees. Harding also handled his personal life very abysmally. Despite being a married man, Harding had several affairs with other women.
One of these women openly supported Germany, which the US had just fought in a war, and another bore him an illegitimate child. This not only infuriated his wife, but the American people as well. As embarrassing as these scandals may have seemed, they were not nearly as disgraceful as those soon to follow. Like other presidents, Warren Harding used the spoils system to decide who would form his inner circle. The spoils system promotes a president’s political supporters into power, but they are not always the finest for the job. This turned out to be the case for Harding.
He had acquainted himself with the wrong type of friends in Ohio, and should have more insightful when it came to visualizing what these men would do with power. Every day, Harding would play poker, smoke cigars and drink whisky with these men, (UVA). Perhaps it is no wonder why Harding did not pass many laws and progressive movement; it appears he must have been too busy gambling. In fact, during one game of poker, Harding gambled away the entire white house china set, losing a valuable piece of history. However, many of Harding’s inner circles wanted more than just White House China, and decided that they would go to extreme means of getting what they wanted. This filthy group of men is now known as the “Ohio Gang.
” Eventually, the entire group was sentenced to prison after their plans were discovered. Albert Fall, for instance, illegally allowed businesses to steal oil from private land in Wyoming and California, (UVA). Charles Forbes, another “Ohio Gang” member, illegally took drugs and alcohol intended for use in hospitals and sold them. Of course, Harding knew all about the goings on of these men. Herbert Hoover, one of his advisors, pushed Harding to make the scandal known publicly, but instead of living up to his mistake, Harding choose to keep it secret, (UVA). When the scandal was eventually discovered by the public, Harding was dashed to pieces by journalists and everyday Americans alike.