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Warren G. Harding
29th U.S. President
Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1921 until his death.
Born: November 2, 1865, Blooming Grove, OH
Died: August 2, 1923, San Francisco, CA
Vice president: Calvin Coolidge (1921–1923)
Predecessor: Woodrow Wilson
Presidential term: March 4, 1921 – August 2, 1923

The 29th U.S. president, Warren Harding (1865-1923) served in office from 1921 to 1923 before dying of an apparent heart attack. Harding’s presidency was overshadowed by the criminal activities of some of his cabinet members and other government officials, although he himself was not involved in any wrongdoing. An Ohio native and Republican, Harding was a successful newspaper publisher who served in the Ohio legislature and the U.S. Senate. In 1920, he won the general election in a landslide, promising a “return to normalcy” after the hardships of World War I (1914-1918). As president, he favored pro-business policies and limited immigration. Harding died suddenly in San Francisco in 1923, and was succeeded by Vice President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933). After Harding’s death, the Teapot Dome Scandal and other instances of corruption came to light, damaging his reputation.

Once in office, Warren Harding followed a predominantly pro-business, conservative Republican agenda. Taxes were reduced, particularly for corporations and wealthy individuals; high protective tariffs were enacted; and immigration was limited. Harding signed the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, which streamlined the federal budget system and established the General Accounting Office to audit government expenditures. Additionally, the United States hosted a successful naval disarmament conference for the world’s leading countries. Harding also nominated ex-president Taft as the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. To date, Taft is the only former chief executive to have held this position.

Harding appointed capable men to his cabinet, including Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover (1874-1964), Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948) and Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon (1855-1937). However, he also surrounded himself with individuals who were later accused of misconduct. Harding was popular while in office, but his reputation was tarnished following his death when Americans learned of corruption within his administration–even though he had not engaged in any of this criminal activity. In one infamous incident, known as the Teapot Dome Scandal, Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall (1861-1944) rented public lands to oil companies in exchange for gifts and personal loans. (Fall was later convicted of accepting bribes and spent less than a year in prison.) Other government officials took payoffs and embezzled funds. Harding himself allegedly had extramarital affairs and drank alcohol in the White House, a violation of the 18th Amendment.

In the summer of 1923, Warren Harding embarked on a cross-country tour of the United States to promote his policies. During the trip, the 57-year-old president became sick, and on August 2 he died of what was likely a heart attack (no autopsy was conducted) at a San Francisco hotel.

In the early hours of August 3, Vice President Coolidge was sworn in as America’s 30th president at his boyhood home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont, where he was vacationing. Coolidge’s father, a notary public, administered the oath of office.

Millions of people across the nation gathered along the railroad tracks to pay their respects to Harding as his body was returned from the West Coast to Washington, D.C. Harding’s Marion home was later designated a National Historic Landmark and opened to the public. The president’s tomb is also located in Marion.