Warren Harding Essay Research Paper Warren Gamaliel

Warren Harding Essay, Research Paper

Warren Gamaliel Harding was the twenty-ninth president of

the United States. He was the sixth president to die in office.

Harding was a tall, handsome man with a resounding voice and a

pleasing personality. At the time he was nominated for

president, he was not widely known. He had become prominent in

Ohio as a newspaper editor, and had been elected to the state

senate. The conservative wing of his political party had found

him a safe, dependable man. He had shown no particular ability

except the ability to attract and to get votes.

Harding received the Republican party’s nomination for

president at the Chicago Convention of 1920. Harding and his

vice president, Calvin Coolidge, were elected by an overwhelming

majority of the popular and electoral votes over his opponents,

James M. Cox and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

From the beginning of his administration, Harding depended

heavily on his Congress and Cabinet to provide leadership. He

chose several qualified men to serve in his cabinet, but he also

chose many cabinet members because they were his friends or

because he owed them political debts. Many of them proved to be

completely unworthy of trust or of high office.

Harding declared early in his presidency that it was the

government’s return to normalcy. His election was interpreted to

mean that the people did not want either the Versailles Treaty or

the League of Nations. The United States made separate treaties

with Germany and its allies, and refused to take part in world

affairs. Harding believed that the U.S. should take part in the

World Court, but at the same time he approved of limitations

which would have made the Court almost powerless by separating it

completely from the League of Nations.

The most important achievement of Harding’s administration

was the Disarmament Conference which met in Washington in 1921.

Popular demand, heard through the Senate, initiated this

conference. The people wanted to put an end to the naval

competition that had sprung up between the United States and

Japan, but the administration broadened the scope of the

conference. It included an effort to limit the more dangerous

political and economic rivalries in the Far East. All the

important nations took part in this conference, and agreed to

limit their armaments, but when some nations were ready to rearm,

the agreement did not stop them from doing so.

In domestic affairs, Harding’s administration followed a

strongly conservative policy. The government had a hands-off

attitude toward business. Taxes on high incomes were reduced.

Duties on imports were raised by the Fordney-McCumber Act. The

government took the side of business in its struggles with labor,

and the Department of Justice hunted down radicals wherever they

could be found. Harding vetoed the first bonus law, mainly

because he believed that the bonus was financially unsound.

Meanwhile, important events were taking place behind the

scenes. In May, 1921, Secretary Fall persuaded President Harding

to sign an order which gave the Department of the Interior

authority over certain oil reserves in the West. These reserves,

known as Teapot Dome and Elk Hills, belonged to the United States

Navy. The Department of the Interior then proceeded to lease

these reserves to private oil companies. It was later proved

that Secretary Fall had accepted a bribe for the transfer of

naval oil reserves to private interests, and he was sent to

prison. Secretary Denby was also involved in the scandal. Soon

after the leases were signed, Senator Robert La Follette demanded

a Senate investigation. Agents of the Department of Justice and

the Veterans’ Bureau were accused of dishonest practices. The

Senate obtained information that could have had Harding


In 1923, Harding fell ill with food poisoning during a cross

country speechmaking tour. He was exhausted and developed

pneumonia. He seemed to be recovering. Then he died on August 2.

The exact cause of his death is not known.

His most important achievement was the Disarmament Conference of

1921. It was good because it limited arms in many powerful