The Who2 Blog

Happy birthday, Warren Harding, You Mountebank!

Not even historical revisionism has saved the reputation of President Warren G. Harding. Not yet, anyway.

Harding still comes in last in most rankings of U.S. presidents. Even if he did have a famous dog.

He was born this day in 1865 in north-central Ohio. Harding was a newspaper man (some might say a Republican propagandist), with a jolly personality and a lot of cronies who suggested he go into politics.

Warren Harding was a United States senator — but not much of one — when he was elected to the presidency in 1920. He was the first to go directly from the U.S. Senate to the White House. Can you guess who the most recent one was? Didn’t think so.

Harding’s presidency was a mess, thanks in large part to those same cronies who got him elected. He liked to party in the White House, boozing it up even though this was during Prohibition. Scandals dominated his presidency, especially after his untimely and mysterious death just two and a half years into his term.

And, of course, he was the first president to have been outed as a philanderer, when his mistress, Nan Britton, wrote a book in 1927 about their affair. She even claimed to have a daughter by Warren Harding, something that was never quite proven and yet became part of Harding’s history.

(Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress; pink border by Who2)

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