• Warren Harding grew up in Ohio and held a number of jobs before entering politics. He was a teacher, then involved in law, insurance and journalism as publisher of a local newspaper.
• Harding had good relationships with most politicians because he avoided being very critical in the newspaper, and he was elected to the Ohio state senate.
• He returned in and out of his newspaper career until he was elected to the United States Senate in 1914. As a U.S. senator, Harding was absent for more sessions than he attended.
How he defined the office
• Harding considered the presidency as something of a ceremonial position rather than one where he should make a big impact.
• His administration was filled with corruption, and though he himself had progressive views on race and civil rights, the shortcomings of his administration caused him to be widely regarded as the worst president in American history.
Successes and failures
• Some members of President Harding’s administration were accomplished and quite good at what they did. But many others were later charged with defrauding the government, and some of them went to jail. The most notable scheme to rock the administration was the Teapot Dome Scandal, where Harding’s secretary of the interior, Albert Fall, accepted bribes from private oil companies in exchange for allowing them access to oil reserves in Wyoming and California.
• During Harding’s presidency the United States worked with England and Japan to control naval buildups, and the country began investing in energy resources in the Middle East.
• Dogged by the scandals impacting his presidency, in 1923 President Harding set up a tour of the Western states and Alaska to meet people and explain his policies. Harding became sick with what was believed to be food poisoning, and had a heart attack and died in his sleep Aug. 2, 1923.
• “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends ... they’re the ones whoe keep me walking the floor at nights!”