Warren G. Harding

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Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the 29th President of the United States, from 1921 until his death in 1923. A Republican from Ohio, Harding was an influential self-made newspaper publisher. He served in the Ohio Senate (1899–1903), as the 28th Lieutenant Governor of Ohio (1903–1905) and as a U.S. Senator (1915–1921). He was also the first incumbent United States Senator and the first newspaper publisher to be elected President.[1][2]

His conservativism, affable manner, and 'make no enemies' campaign strategy enabled Harding to become the compromise choice at the 1920 Republican National Convention. During his presidential campaign, in the aftermath of World War I, he promised a return of the nation to "normalcy." This "America first" campaign encouraged industrialization and a strong economy independent of foreign influence. Harding departed from the progressive movement that had dominated Congress since President Theodore Roosevelt. In the 1920 election, he and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, defeated Democrat and fellow Ohioan James M. Cox, in the largest presidential popular vote landslide in American history (60.36% to 34.19%) since first recorded in 1824.[3]

President Harding rewarded friends and political contributors with financially powerful positions. Scandals and corruption eventually pervaded his administration; several of his cabinet members, referred to as the Ohio Gang, were eventually tried, convicted and sent to prison for bribery and fraud.[4] Harding did however make some notably positive appointments to his cabinet.[5]

In foreign affairs, Harding spurned the League of Nations, and signed a separate peace treaty with Germany and Austria, formally ending World War I. He also strongly promoted world Naval disarmament at the 1921–22 Washington Naval Conference, and urged U.S. participation in a proposed International Court. Domestically, Harding signed the first child welfare program in the United States and dealt with striking workers in the mining and railroad industries. The nation’s unemployment rate dropped by half during Harding’s administration.[6] In August of 1923, President Harding suddenly collapsed and died during a stop in California on a return trip from Alaska.[7] He was succeeded by Vice President, Calvin Coolidge.

Polls of historians and scholars have consistently ranked Harding as one of the worst Presidents. His presidency has been recently evaluated in terms of presidential record and accomplishments in addition to the administration scandals. The most recent Presidential rankings have had various low results for President Harding.

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