Warren G. Harding's Presidency

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What are some interesting facts about President Warren G. Harding?

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Harding was President during the early 1920s, an especially fraught time for the nation. Some important aspects of his presidency reflect this.

For example, he signed into law a very restrictive immigration bill—the Emergency Quota Act of 1921—that, for all practical purposes, banned immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. This was a function of the nativism and fears of radicalism that characterized the post-World War I era in the United States.

Harding also pursued some economic policies, like imposing higher tariffs and taking steps to balance the federal budget.

But what was most significant and interesting about Harding was the rampant corruption in his administration. He appointed several cronies, sometimes known derisively as the "Ohio gang," to prominent positions within his administration. These men abused their public positions to steal money and peddle influence. This group included Attorney General Harry Daugherty, Albert Fall, and Charles Forbes, all of whom embezzled vast sums of money while in office. Fall (the architect of the so-called "Teapot Dome" scandal) and Forbes (who stole money from the Veteran's Bureau) eventually went to prison for their crimes.

On a personal front, historians now know that Harding carried on at least two extramarital affairs before (and perhaps during) his time in office. One of these affairs produced a child.

He also served a short term, dying in 1923, shortly after becoming the first president to visit Alaska. He was succeeded by his Vice President, Calvin Coolidge, who continued his laissez-faire, pro-business approach to the office—without the corruption, however.

Another interesting fact about his presidency is related to his election, which was the first in which women could vote on a national level. Their right to do so was established by the Nineteenth Amendment, ratified just a few months before the election of 1920.

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