Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Harding, Warren Gamaliel

HARDING, WARREN GAMALIEL, an American statesman, elected President of the United States, on Nov. 2, 1920. He was born in the village of Blooming Grove, O., on Nov. 2, 1865, on a farm belonging to his grandfather, Charles Harding, who was one of the pioneers in the settlement of Ohio. The boy was the oldest of eight children. His father, George Tyron Harding, was a village physician and cultivated a small farm to aid in the support of the large family. His mother was Phebe Dickerson, who was descended from an old-time Holland-Dutch family, the Van Kirks. His first education was obtained in the country school of the neighborhood, and at the age of 14 he entered the Ohio Central College at New Iberia, and completed the course, which was hardly more than a high school course of the present day. He showed considerable aptitude in study and graduated with distinction. As an editor of the college paper, he showed a marked bent for the profession in which he afterward engaged, that of journalism. At about the time of his graduation from college, his father removed to Marion, Hardin co., O., a town of 4,000 people. Young Harding at once secured employment in a newspaper office of the city, and there learned all the practical details of the printer's trade. Although he was not at this time active in politics, he ardently supported James G. Blaine. As the newspaper on which he was working was Democratic in its political preferences, Harding was discharged. He soon found the opportunity for realizing his ambition of owning himself a newspaper, and when the “Star,” published in Marion, was about to be sold by the sheriff, Harding and a friend borrowed the few hundred dollars necessary and began its publication in November, 1884. After several years of financial difficulties, the paper became a success, due in no small measure to the editorial policy of the paper and the editorials contributed by its editor. Harding soon became known as a forceful writer and a man of rapidly developing personality. His first entrance into active politics was his election to the State Senate in 1900. He was re-elected and at the expiration of his second term was chosen lieutenant-governor of Ohio. He declined the renomination for this office. In 1910 he was the Republican candidate for governor, but was defeated. Following this he publicly announced his withdrawal from politics. Two years later found him in the thickest of the political fight in the support of the Republican candidate for the presidency. He declared himself a candidate for the Senate in 1914 and was nominated, defeating Senator Foraker. He was elected to the Senate by over 100,000 majority. He was the first Senator elected from Ohio under the system of direct elections. In the Senate, although not a frequent speaker, he was admitted to be one of the strongest members, and, when he did address the Chamber, he was listened to with closest attention. He supported, on the whole, all the important measures adopted by the progressive element of the party, including the woman's suffrage amendment, the legislation in behalf of labor, child labor law, and measures of like character. He was a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and as such took an important part in the deliberations on the peace treaty, to the ratification of which, in the form in which it appeared before the Senate, he was opposed.

The struggle between the radical and the progressive elements of the Republican party for the nomination for the presidency in June, 1920, naturally brought into consideration Senator Harding, who had not been aggressively identified with either section. He was, moreover, from Ohio, which was considered to be one of the doubtful States. His strength in the Convention grew from the beginning, although he had no organization and had not declared himself to be a candidate before the Convention met. His principal opponents were General Leonard Wood, Governor Lowden of Illinois, and Hiram Johnson of California. The delegates, unable to compromise on any of these, selected Senator Harding. He was elected on November 2 by the largest majority ever given a presidential candidate. For an account of the presidential election, see United States History. Following his election, Senator Harding made a brief trip to the Panama Canal and the Canal Zone, where he was received with great enthusiasm. On his return he devoted himself to the selection of his cabinet officers and to conferences with prominent representatives of the policy to be followed during his administration.

Collier's Harding Warren Gamaliel.jpg
© Underwood & Underwood