Warren Gamaliel Harding was born November 2, 1865, in Blooming Grove, Ohio. His parents originally lived on a farm but decided to go into medical practice as a means of providing their family with a better life. While Dr. George Tryon Harding opened his office in a small town in Ohio, his wife, Phoebe Elizabeth Harding, practiced as a midwife.
Divorcee Florence DeWolfe had been a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. After leaving her husband she supported herself and her son by giving piano lessons. One of her students was Harding’s sister. Florence and Harding eventually married on July 8, 1891.
Florence Harding was deeply involved in her husband’s career and Harding affectionately called his wife “the Duchess”, based on a character in a serial from the New York Sun, in which the Duchess kept a close eye on the Duke and their money, running anything that required efficiency.
|Warren and Florence Harding in their garden.|
Harding was the owner of a newspaper called Marion Daily Star. The paper was failing when he bought it, but he and Florence turned it into one of the biggest newspapers in the country.
Harding decided to run for the Ohio State Senator in 1899. He was later elected as the lieutenant governor of Ohio. From 1915 to 1921, he served as a US Senator from Ohio.
When Harding ran for the Republican nomination for president in 1920, he was considered an also-ran with little chance of success. The leading candidates could not gain a majority to secure the nomination, and the convention deadlocked. As the ballots passed, Harding increased his support, and he was nominated on the tenth ballot.
Harding conducted a front porch campaign, remaining for the most part in Marion, Ohio, allowing the people to come to him. He was elected over Democrat James M. Cox and Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs.
Warren G. Harding delivered the first speech by a sitting U.S. President against lynching on October 21, 1921 at Birmingham, Alabama. The lynchings were illegal hangings committed primarily by white supremacists against African Americans in the Deep South and Harding spoke in support of Congressman Leonidas Dyer’s federal anti-lynching bill, which passed the House of Representatives in January 1922.
|Warren G. Harding, by Harris & Ewing.|
Newspapers often published mock interviews as Laddie Boy shared the wisdom of his position. When the pooch died, 19,000 newspaper boys chipped in a penny each to make a copper statue of him, which is now in the Smithsonian museum
Harding was an enthusiastic poker player and once gambled away the entire White House china set in a game.
President Warren Harding installed the White House’s first radio on February 8, 1922.
President Harding died suddenly of heart disease whilst on a western tour. He passed away during the middle of conversation with his wife in a San Francisco hotel’s presidential suite, at 7:35 p.m. on August 2, 1923.
Whilst Harding was lying ill in San Francisco, it was reported that back at the White House Laddie Boy howled for three days, knowing there was something wrong with his master.
Warren Harding was the only US President to have died in the month of August.
by Ed Pearce