- NAME: Warren G. Harding
- OCCUPATION: U.S. President, U.S. Representative, Government Official
- BIRTH DATE: November 02, 1865
- DEATH DATE: August 02, 1923
- EDUCATION: Ohio Central College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Corsica (now Blooming Grove), Ohio
- PLACE OF DEATH: San Francisco, California
- Full Name: Warren Gamaleil Harding
- AKA: Warren Harding
- AKA: Warren G. Harding
- Nickname: "Winnie"
Best Known For
Warren G. Harding was elected the 29th U.S. president on his birthday, and served from 1921 to 1923. His term followed World War I and a campaign promising a "return to normalcy."
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He was well-known by Republican leaders, had no major political enemies, was "right" on all the issues and represented the critically important state of Ohio. At the convention in June 1920, after 10 rounds of voting, the nomination was deadlocked. Finally, on the 11th ballot, Harding emerged as the presidential nominee, with Calvin Coolidge as his running mate.
During the campaign,
Harding pledged to return the country to "normalcy." Using clichés in lofty speeches, Harding easily won the election, gaining 61 percent of the popular vote and winning 37 of 48 states in the Electoral College; he was the first sitting senator to be elected president. Opponents James M. Cox and Cox's running mate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, only carried the deeply Democratic southern states.
Warren G. Harding's administration was determined to roll back the momentum of progressive legislation that had taken place for the past 20 years. He personally overturned or allowed Congress to reverse many policies of the Wilson Administration, and approved tax cuts on higher incomes and protective tariffs. His administration supported limiting immigration and ending spending controls that had been instituted during World War I.
Harding also signed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which allowed the president to submit a unified budget to Congress (in the past, the separate cabinet departments had submitted their own budgets). The act also established the General Accounting Office to audit government expenditures. Additionally, Harding personally championed civil liberties for African Americans, and his administration supported liberalizing farm credit.
In foreign affairs, as in domestic policy, Harding delegated much responsibility to several key cabinet members. Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes worked with Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and Department of Commerce head Herbert Hoover to elevate American banking to a global position; they negotiated trade deals to acquire rubber in Malaya and oil in the Middle East. The Harding Administration also played an important role in rebuilding Europe after WWI, and in establishing an "open door" trading policy in Asia.
As president, Harding often seemed overwhelmed by the burdens of the office. He frequently confided to friends that he wasn't prepared for the presidency. He worked hard and tried to keep his campaign promise of "naming the best man for the job." By awarding high-level positions to political supporters, the results were mixed at best. While Hughes, Mellon and Hoover were very effective, several other high-level appointees—known as the "Ohio Gang"—proved to be unscrupulous and corrupt, paving the way for scandal.
Perhaps the worst disgrace was the Tea Pot Dome Scandal: Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall leased oil-rich lands in Wyoming to companies in return for personal loans. Fall was eventually found guilty of corruption, and was sentenced to prison in 1931. Even Harding's close friend and political manager Harry Daugherty, the attorney general at the time, faced several impeachment votes by Congress and two indictments for defrauding the government.
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The first U.S. president, former military leader George Washington, took his oath of office on April 30, 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall. From that moment onward, the United States' highest office has been filled regularly by elected officials who aim to serve the people under the guidance of the U.S. Constitution. Learn more about the 43 men who have served as America's chief executive.
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