Scandals of the Harding Administration (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Among the worst instances of corruption since Grant’s administration and prior to the Watergate affair.
Summary of Event
On August 2, 1923, the twenty-ninth president of the United States, Warren Gamaliel Harding, died in San Francisco. The cause of death was listed as “cerebral embolism,” but perhaps William Allen White, his newspaper friend and biographer, was more correct when he asked, “How could the doctors diagnose an illness that was part terror, part shame, and part utter confusion?” Harding had suspected, even before leaving Washington to journey to the West Coast, that there was widespread corruption in his administration, and that this corruption was the work of his cronies. “My God, this is a hell of a job,” he told White shortly before embarking on his journey. “I have no trouble with my enemies. . . . But my friends, my God-damn friends, White, they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor nights!”
Already, graft in the Veterans’ Bureau had come to light. The head of the bureau, Charles R. Forbes, had millions of dollars in contracts and supplies at his disposal, and he proceeded to dispose of them with a callous disregard for the veterans he was supposed to be helping. He made a fortune by declaring vast quantities of hospital supplies worthless and selling them to friends, who in turn resold them to the bureau at staggering prices. For bribes and...
(The entire section is 1331 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!