10 January 2009

The last of a string of Ohio Presidents

Warren Gamaliel Harding (November 2, 1865 – August 2, 1923) was the twenty-ninth President of the United States and was the first sitting Senator to be elected President. John Kennedy and Barack Obama are the only other two to be elected president while serving in the Senate. Harding was the eighth President from the state of Ohio. From William Henry Harrison's election in 1840 to Harding's in 1920, Ohio produced a large group of politicians that served as Presidents or members of their Cabinets.
In the election of 1920, Harding defeated fellow Ohioan and Governor James Cox by a landslide victory of 60% to 34% in the popular vote. Cox's running mate was 38 year-old Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt. This was the first election where women from all states achieved the right to vote by passage of the 19th admendment in August of 1920.
Harding's campaign slogan was "Return to Normalcy", meaning turning away from the government activism of the World War I era. Harding signed peace treaties with Germany, Austria and Hungary officially ending U.S. involvement in the war. He established the Veterans Bureau which later became the Department of Veterans Affairs. Harding's short-lived presidency was charactarized by scandals, most notably Teapot Dome. He also had a 15 year relationship with Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of a close friend. The Republican Party found this out after Harding's nomination, so in exchange for her silence about the affair, the Party aranged for her family to live abroad and receive an annual stipend. Love letters between the two were confiscated by Harding's heirs and remain under court injunction, not subject to pubic review until 2023, the 100th anniversary of Harding's death. Harding died in office in August 1923 of a heart attack while traveling the West Coast.

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