Birth of Warren G. Harding 

US #610 was issued one month after Harding’s death.

29th president of the United States Warren Gamaliel Harding was born November 2, 1865, in Blooming Grove, Ohio.

When he was 10 years old, Harding began working for his father’s weekly newspaper.  In college, he worked on the school newspaper and gained a reputation as a gifted public speaker.

Harding then moved to Marion, Ohio, and bought the struggling Marion Star newspaper in 1884.  Though he wrote in support of the Republican Party, his fair reporting of both sides earned him the respect of Ohio politicians.  Within ten years, Harding’s paper grew to be one of the most popular in the county.  And when Harding reorganized his business, he allowed them to buy stock in Harding Publishing Co., the first profit-sharing agreement in Ohio.

US #610-13 – Complete set of four 1923 Harding Memorial stamps.

Harding began his political career in 1899 when he won a seat in the Ohio State Senate. After serving two terms, Harding ran for governor of Ohio in 1903.  He was defeated but was given the position of lieutenant governor.  In 1914, he was elected to the US Senate, a post he held until his presidential inauguration in 1921.

US #553 was the first fraction US postage stamp.

In running for the presidency in 1920, Harding promised to return America “to normalcy” and healing from World War I and the policies of President Wilson.  Harding conducted a front-porch campaign from his home in Marion, Ohio, while his opponent traveled over 20,000 miles.  Over 600,000 people came to visit him. In addition, entertainers such as Al Jolson and Mary Pickford entertained the crowds.  Henry Ford and Thomas Edison also met with Harding and supported his campaign.

US #631 was never distributed to post offices. It was only available at the Philatelic Agency in Washington, DC.

The results of November’s election were the first in US history to be covered on the radio.  Harding and his running mate Calvin Coolidge received 60 percent of the national vote, the highest percentage ever recorded up to that time.

During his campaign, Harding promised to appoint the best men he could find for his Cabinet.  Some of his choices fulfilled this promise.  Unfortunately, he also felt a sense of duty to men who supported his run for office and gave them influential positions as well.  These men, later called the “Ohio Gang,” would damage Harding’s presidency.  Many historians believe Harding was not aware of the corruption happening inside his administration.  However, his choice of questionable men to serve in his Cabinet tarnished the reputation of his administration.

US #833 from the 1938 Presidential Series.

Harding worked to make the Federal government smaller and more efficient.  The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 said the President must submit a budget to the Congress each year.  The General Accounting Office provided oversight for Federal expenses.  As director, Charles Dawes reduced government spending by 25 percent the first year and cut it in half after two years.

The President felt lowering tax rates would help the country recover from the postwar depression it was experiencing. Under the guidance of Andrew Mellon, the top tax rate was reduced from 73 percent to 25 over the course of four years. Unemployment fell and tax revenue increased.  Historians Schweikart and Allen wrote the economic policies “… produced the most vibrant eight-year burst of manufacturing and innovation in the nation’s history.”

Ongoing labor disputes led to violence during Harding’s administration, and more than once he had to call in federal troops to bring peace.  In a time when the rights of African Americans were severely limited, Harding supported civil rights and educational opportunities.  He advocated for a Federal anti-lynching bill, but it was defeated in the Senate.

US #833 – Classic First Day Cover.

On November 21, 1921, Harding signed the Sheppard-Towner Maternity Act, which funded health centers around the country. It was the first large Federal social welfare program in America.  The law encouraged doctors to offer health care to prevent illness as well as treating it. Child welfare workers were trained to make sure children were being taken care of.

Harding relied heavily on Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes to conduct foreign affairs.  Hughes led the Washington Armament Conference to reduce naval power in the hopes of maintaining peace.  The US hosted Japan, Great Britain, France, Italy, China, Belgium, Netherlands, and Portugal for the three-month conference. The agreements reached brought stability to the Pacific region.  Trade agreements with China were also signed.

US #2219a from the 1986 Presidential set.

Harding improved the nation’s relationship with countries to the south.  The Thomson-Urrutia Treaty awarded Colombia $25 million as payment for land used for the Panama Canal.  The President also improved relations with Mexico, which had been strained during Wilson’s administration.  Under Harding’s direction, the military began leaving occupied areas of Central America and the Caribbean.

In 1923, scandals in Harding’s administration were beginning to surface.  He told a journalist, “I have no trouble with my enemies, but my friends, they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor at nights!”  The President’s health was suffering, so he decided to take a tour to the West and Alaska to reconnect with the people and promote his agenda. Accompanied by his wife and trusted advisors, Harding’s train left Washington on June 20.  After giving speeches throughout the Midwest, he and his party traveled to Alaska.  Harding was the first President to visit there.

Item #97822 – Commemorative medal cover marking Harding’s 128th birthday.

On the way back to the lower 48 states, Harding toured British Columbia, the first sitting President to visit Canada.  As the trip continued, Harding became progressively weaker.  The train traveled to San Francisco.  On August 2, Harding died in a hotel suite of an apparent heart attack.  The President’s body was transported by train across the country.  Millions of Americans lined the track all along the route to pay their respects. His state funeral took place on August 8 in the Capitol building.  Harding’s term was the shortest of any President in the 20th century.

You can find more stamps, covers, and coins honoring President Harding by searching “Harding” above.

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  1. Under the guidance of Andrew Mellon, the top tax rate was reduced from 73 percent to 25 over the course of four years.
    Tax rate of 73%- OMG!

    1. “Under the guidance of Andrew Mellon, the top tax rate was reduced from 73 percent to 25 over the course of four years. Unemployment fell and tax revenue increased.” Imagine that-a tax ciu and revenue INCREASED. Exactly what happened in 1961-62, 1982-83 , 2002-03 and will
      happen 2018-19.

      1. The 1920s are often thought of as a sort of “golden age,” but a closer look shows that many segments of the population were left out of the good times, particularly minority groups and unskilled workers. Government policies and the large corporations fought unions and union membership declined. The tax cuts mainly benefited the corporations and the wealthy (sound familiar?). The huge tax cuts allowed the wealthy to speculate in the stock market which rose to unrealistic heights. This and other factors led to the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    2. You don’t even mention all the scandals–he had a child out of wedlock with an 18-year-old; he had a relationship with a married woman; not to mention the “Teapot Dome Scandal”, the Watergate of its time. Tremendous corruption in his administration–one of the worst presidencies ever.

      1. Some historians rate Harding as the worst President ever. Others rate James Buchanan or Andrew Johnson as the worst. The current occupant of the White House is setting a new standard and will almost certainly be rated as the worst President by historians.

  2. An interesting read of the life and times of an American president. Perhaps Mystic could consider extending such articles to other famous personalities of the world as well…

  3. This was truly a great man and president. It’s too bad that our history isn’t taught in our schools (grades 6 through 12) the way it should be.

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