For a short time Florence Harding was a student at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music--until her rich father pulled her out because he didn't like the company that she kept. At 19, she was pregnant after eloping with a man that her father did not approve of. Two years later she would be abandoned by the man she said was her husband. At 31, she was married to future president Warren G. Harding, newspaper magnate and unrepentant philanderer. She was 5 years older than Harding and her father believed that he only married her in order to gain social prominence. Harding would later be threatened with blackmail by one of his girlfriends, Carrie Phillips, who had been a close friend of Florence. She considered divorce but never pursued it. Back then this would have been a death sentence for Harding's chances at election and Carrie never revealed the affair to the public. Like future presidents Kennedy and Clinton he supposedly had sex in the White House with his mistress Nan Britton. She claimed to have had sex with him in a White House closet similar to the Monica Lewinsky affair. Recent DNA tests have supposedly proven that Nan had a daughter by Harding as a result of their relationship.
Mrs. Harding ended up running much of her husband's paper, with one newspaperman saying that success of the paper depended on Mrs. Harding. Because of her skill as a newspaper woman she was able to deflect inquiries into her previous relationship. She claimed to have been a widow. A fortune teller correctly predicted that Harding would be elected President but would die in office. In spite of this she was instrumental in encouraging his campaign for president. Harding won election in 1920 but in 1923 they took a vacation to Canada although both were seriously ill at the time. Harding's doctor who appeared to be a quack, gave him stimulants that caused a fatal heart attack while they were in San Francisco. A rumor developed that Florence had poisoned him which was never substantiated. She would die herself the following year of kidney failure. Harding's administration was plagued with scandal. The worst being the Tea Pot Dome scandal. Grant and Harding are generally considered to be the worst presidents in American History. I would throw in the Obama administration as the worst and Carter being in the top five of the worst. Harding's Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who in my mind would become one of our best presidents would finish out Harding's term and be elected as president in 1924. Coolidge would choose not to run for re-election in 1928.
|Nan Britton with alleged child of Warren Harding|