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Warren G. Harding
-The Man


Joe Mitchell Chapple


Chappie Publishing Company, Limited


Copyright, 1920, by


Boston, Mass.


JUL 23 1920



I. The Call for Leadership 7

II. A Man of "Manifest Destiny" 15

III. A Blue-eyed Babe in Blooming Grove ... '21

IV. Boyhood Days in a Country Town 29

V. College Days at the "Central Ohio" 35

VI. Beginning Life in a Big Town 41

VII. The Hardings a Hardy Breed 47

VIII. The Broadening Field of Public Service . 57

IX. When the News Reached the Home Folks. 65

X. The Measure of the Man 71

XL Character the Reality of a Man 77

XII. The Log Book of His Life 81

XIII. By His Greetings You Shall Know Him . 87

XIV. Harding's Relation to Roosevelt 95

XV. The Record of a Four-square Leader .... 101

XVI. Anecdotal Sidelights and "Close-ups" . . . 107

XVII. A Tribute by a Printer-Partner 115

XVIII. A Sturdy Champion of Americanism 123



ON the scroll of Time is burned the mem-
ory — even the history of those whose lives
are dedicated to the cause of humanity.
And it is well. Little do we remember, little
do most of us care, less do most of us think of
the inner motives that mould the bigger motives
that make us free or happy. Perhaps it is a
law of Nature to forget. Human relations, even
nations, start with the family. Who ever heard
of a family that individually or collectively took
the pains to consider the tiny, indiscernible,
extrinsic elements that make for the most
expedient and beneficent management and gov-
ernment of that little group.

It is the same way with nations.

Men come and men go. Ever and anon is
the sweep of new thought, new interests, new
problems, new fields to develop, new hazards
that must be braved, new corruptions that


8 Warren G. Harding — The Man

must be crushed, new enterprises that must be
sponsored. Stability of man and mankind is
as impracticable as an attempt to lull the At-
lantic into an everlasting quiet. Times change,
men change and thought changes, even as desire
changes. Which leads to my objective — the
intention of declaring that the institution most
affected by this intangible, elusive, multi-
polygon of doubt and human nature is our sys-
tem of bestowing on certain individuals the
honor and responsibility of capably interpreting
our likes and dislikes, our fears and hopes, our
ambitions and our follies. This art of caring for
the multifarious wants of millions comes under
the name of "politics," a noun too large for
proper classification by our deans of English,
a word that has a scope bounded only by the
Arctic snows, the southern seas, and the wills
and wants of mankind. Indeed, it is a word
of illusions. Its par-value fluctuates on the
exchange of opinions. In fact, if it ever had a
par value such value was only temporary, only
a passing whim.

Leaders are men who know the operation of
of other minds and have a capacity for co-
operative effort. And these qualities of a new
leader, quiet and unobtrusive, stand out as a

The Call for Leadership 9

marked characteristic. The man whom everyone
likes within the entire circle of close acquain-
tance is the man who likes everybody. The
equation is never failing.

Whoever understood politics? Who dares to
prophesy, with any degree of scientific accuracy,
where politics holds sway?

Combining the highest ethics and ideals, and
the lowest trickery and intrigue, some people
are prone to look with suspicion upon politi-
cians as the black sheep — others as the white-
fleeced leaders of the flocks.


We remember that a political convention
gave to the world Abraham Lincoln.

The acquaintance of nations with its leaders
passes through varied processes. The hour,
the time and the responsibility demand men
fitted for the occasion. It is difficult to name
the specific hour, time, and particular respon-
sibility that foreshadow the faith that comes
from friendships, individual and collective, that
crystallize into public favor, permanent and
enduring. Humanity loves Lincoln today be-
cause even in the days of 1860, unknown and
untried, the home folks were the first to insist
that he possessed those fundamental virtues

10 Warren G. Harding — The Man

that come with a virile, heartsome neighborli-
ness which could not be limited by state or
national boundary lines. In Lincoln we find
included a few traits of our very own selves,
which he encompassed so completely and com-
prehensively through his contact with the "plain
people," as he loved to call us, that his com-
pleted circle of greatness finds a place for all

The American people have ever placed the
homely virtues and common sense as the first
qualification of a public servant. They natu-
rally love and follow a public man who mani-
festly has some of our own virtues and even
some of our own faults, but whose whole nature
is in the large mould of a man who understands
his fellow-man.

The flowers of friendship bud, bloom, and
alas, even in their fading, defy all description
based on a concrete incident. You cannot tell
just why, when or how you began admiring or
even loving a friend. In the light of a bor-
rowed match you may have caught the glow on
the face of a man for whom friendship blossomed
in the all-pervading kindly sunlight of a casual
greeting. The result of this may be a kinship
as close as blood ties — a fruitage that just grows.

The Call for Leadership 1 1

In the early days of the month of June, 1920,
I felt the wild call of politics. The eyes of the
world were focused on the metropolis of the
Mid- West, where nine hundred and eighty-four
men and women were expressing the will of
milions. The roar was reaching me. I felt the
pulse-beat of stirring multitudes.

From the time Chairman Will H. Hays
opened the proceedings by declaring it the
greatest free-for-all national political conven-
tion ever held, it was anyone's guess upon
whom the high honor of the nomination would

Bossless, leaderless, the delegates found them-
selves in a haze of speculation. They queried
each other:

"Well, who is it going to be?"

And nobody could answer.

The time for a new leader had come. The
delegates were there. The bosses were not
there. It was a great moment in history — the
one time in which the voice of every one of the
millions of sovereign voters directly shape and
influence the destinies of our own country in
choosing a President. This convention was the
prelude of the balloting tribunal in November,
which will prove the greatest referendum ever
known in history.

12 Warren G. Harding — The Man

Then, one afternoon came a thrill that sent
the blood surging in my veins. There was a
friend who now stood almost on the high peak
of party favor. The whole world was looking
at him, wondering about him, inquiring about
him, thinking about him. The Republican
National Convention had nominated Warren
G, Harding, for President of the United States
of America.




HAVE you ever heard a friend who rises
to public prominence discussed by people
from random impressions? From a pho-
tograph, from a glimpse in public life, from
stray paragraphs, the picture of the man is
formed. Then you begin to realize how few
public men are really known by the people.
The true proportions may not always prevail in
the perspective of an admiring friend, any more
than in the hazy, indistinct notions that enhalo
a new leader whom destiny has thrust into the
foreground of world activities.

In 1916 I stood on the platform of the Coli-
seum at Chicago after the Republican Conven-
tion had adjourned sine die. As Warren G.
Harding laid down the gavel, a group of admiring
friends gathered about and chorused the
remark: "You will be nominated here four
years hence." The remark passed as one of the


16 Warren G. Harding — The Man

casual political prophecies, but events recall

It was in 1908 when Warren G. Harding first
addressed the delegates of the Republican Con-
vention. It was not a brilliant or pyrotechnic
speech. It was too balanced to suit the
temper of the times, and he, like many others,
was consigned by political wiseacres to the
oblivion that envelops passing figures in the
political panorama. There was something in
his bearing and presence on the platform, how-
ever, which indicated to keen observers that he
was in an environment he understood, and for
which he was fitted. The whirlwind of political
discussion was not new to him. At that time
there were rivals and opponents who felt a
respect for this well-matured and well-equipped
spokesman for his people. They insisted, just as
the "home folks" did, that here was a man in
the full and unmeasured sense of the word.

He looked, acted and spoke the part of the
typical American, concerning whom admirers
might venture the conviction:

"Some day that man will be President!"

When he was elected Lieutenant-Governor of
Ohio, his friends felt there was a Governor-in-
the-making, but alas, political tides ebb and

ght, Edmonston, Wash.

Mrs. Warren G. Harding

A Man of "Manifest Destiny" 17

flow, and he was defeated because of a divided
party. Two years later he was elected United
States Senator — one of the first in this country
chosen by the direct vote of the people.

The senatorial toga came to him as Ohio's
tribute to his fitness to deal with national
problems, as revealed first of all in his address
at the Republican National Convention eight
years before, and his presiding genius in the
turbulent days of 1916 — four years later.

When the list of presidential nominees for
the Republican party, with its high prospects
of success, were reviewed in 1920, his name was
never far in the background.

"He came from behind," as they say in real

His primary campaign was so modest that
two-thirds of all the funds were contributed by
the "home folks" at Marion. Every dollar
carried the conviction of the "home folks" —
those who knew the man — that he should be
President. Some of the campaign funds were

The unpretentious way in which his campaign
was conducted was indicated in the cards used
in the Republican Convention in Chicago.
They were the very same as those used in the

18 Warren G. Harding — The Man

state primaries a month previous, with the words
"primaries (May 4th)" blotted out. The same
printed likeness of Mr. Harding was carried by
the delegates, as by the voters of Ohio. The
whole appeal was so simple and modest at
Chicago that the Harding men could easily
wear the cards, like a miner's torch, in their hats.
All of which recalled the simplicity of Lincoln's
campaign in 1860.

In 1920, memorable year of history, the three-
hundredth anniversary of the Landing of the
Pilgrim Fathers is to be celebrated. Once again
will be re-affirmed those basic principles of
representative government which were drawn
up under the light of a swinging lantern, in
the cabin of the Mayflower. May there not be
something analogous — something of "manifest
destiny" in the nomination of a man whose
ancestors were of that same hardy stock,
and who, generation after generation, have
carried into domestic and public life the flint of
Plymouth Rock?




YEARS ago the little hamlet was called
Corsica, after the birthplace of Napoleon,
but the flowers of the woods and the
prairie suggested the name of Blooming Grove,
to which it was changed. One hundred years
ago, on a little eminence outside this Ohio vil-
lage, the Hardings located. Midway in this
century, November 2, I860, a blue-eyed boy was
born, in a farmhouse amid simple surrounding.
The mother rejoiced that her first-born was a
boy, for she had dreams concerning his destiny.
The old daguerreotypes, still in existence, show
the serene Elizabeth Crawford and Tyron Hard-
ing in a pleasing romance at sweet sixteen. This
picture reveals the unusual charm of Warren
Harding's mother. When the youthful suitor
proposed marriage, this sensible girl said:

"No, Tyron, we must wait until we have an
education." And wait they did, both gradu-


22 Warren G. Harding — The Man

ating later in medicine, and each equipped with
a knowledge of the physical basis of life and the
ability not only to live well themselves, but to
help others to live.

Those were the days of large families; yet it
is striking to note how near to extinction this
branch of the Harding line came. Owing to
the Indian massacres, only a single Harding
remained, yet like the Nile, almost disappearing
at times, the family strain broadened in the
next generation, no less than nineteen names
appearing in the family bible record.

This blue-eyed boy was named for the hus-
band of "Aunt Tillie," who was Rev. Warren
Gamaliel Bancroft, a Methodist preacher who
lived a long life of usefulness in active service,
and who watched with warm interest the
development of his namesake.

As a young country editor in a far-away state,
I had the friendship and counsel of this self-
same minister; but never thought of the added
distinction which might come to Warren G.
Bancroft after his life-work was done.

True to the name he bore, the child was an
early student at his mother's knee, listening to
Bible stories and always "hungry for more.' ,
Before he could read, he was committing to

A Blue-eyed Babe in Blooming Grove 23

memory the great sentiments and truths of
the Scriptures. Before he knew even his alpha-
bet his mother read him many books. During
these formative days there grew up a beautiful
intimacy with his mother that was never broken.
Her passionate fondness for flowers was com-
municated to the son, who, in all the after years,
whether at home or across the seas, whether
alone or among multitudes, had flowers for her
every Sunday morning as long as she lived.
She passed away in 1910, but he still clings to
the custom of having flowers in his room each
Sunday to recall the sacred memory, thus
observing "Mother's Day" every week of the

The child grew up as he should — to be just a
boy, not a prodigy, but humanly normal. He
ran away and had to be tied to the bedpost, like
other boys. Yet in all his discipline, no actual
blow was ever struck — his mother's method
being to seat the boy smartly in a chair, and
then look straight into his eyes and say, "Now,
Warren!" Then would begin that earnest coun-
sel, that reasoning, that guidance suffused with
mother-heartedness, which constituted the whole
of the maternal authority.

These first five years of life at Blooming

24 Warren G. Harding — The Man

Grove have left their mark. The father and
mother were busy with their patients and re-
sponses to calls from far and near. Those were
the days of agues, chills and fever, demanding
from the doctor and his wife time and absence
from home, even to sitting up nights with the
sick and the sorrowing; but never the night
that little Warren was not with his mother,
even on her errands of mercy.

At the village store one day there arrived
some red-topped, brass-toed boots for little
boys. In that day the ambition of the smallest
son was to wear boots like father's. Little
Warren was told that he might go and
' 'look" at them. He toddled down, and
his blue eyes sparkled as he saw the coveted

"Do you want to take them home?" asked the
shrewdly observant country storekeeper, as he
patted the lad on the head. That was enough
for Warren; his little arms were outstretched,
and he promptly opened his first "charge ac-
count," feeling sure that his "credit" would be
backed by "Daddy," if not by "Mother."
When he had said his prayers that night, he
seized the red-topped boots and begged that he
might take them to bed with him, and as the

A Blue-eyed Babe in Blooming Grove %5

mother stooped to kiss him she saw closely
snuggled in his arms the little red-topped

She left him to dream the angel dreams of



WHEN I think of Warren G. Harding, the
man, I love to recall those rollicking
tales related of his boyhood — just the
average small -town -farmer -boy career. The
"moving to town" was an event — and the hay
rack served as the van. Then came the days
and nights, too, to do chores, for even in the
city, there was the doctor's horse and the cow,
and school days succeeded happy vacation
hours. He was early recognized by associates
as a careful leader. He did not venture far out
in Whetstone Creek until he knew he could
swim. He had his jean trousers and his ging-
ham suit dipped and tied in a knot while in
swimming — as others had before him.

But he untied the knots.

He played Indian and Pom Pom Pullaway,
and played hard, but there was always a feeling
among teachers that "Doc," as he was nick-


30 Warren G. Harding — The Man

named, would pull through the examinations,
although he could not be called the "model boy"
in school. He loved to speak pieces, and his
rendering of Patrick Henry's "Give Me Liberty
or Give Me Death" was at least concluded with
the graceful bow then taught in schools.

These eventful years from four to sixteen —
milking the cows, working in the fields, painting
fences, keeping the wood box filled — although
not perhaps discerned at the time, are where a
life career is often determined. Rather shy,
big and awkward, Warren Harding was known
as a serious boy, with an inclination to write
essays and an occasional flight to "poetry."
He pored over encyclopedias now and then, to
drink deep in the biography of his favorite Na-
poleon and Alexander Hamilton. In order to
have his essays in real type, he was ambitious
to become a printer. Perched on a stool, he
soon learned the "boxes" in the Caledonia Argus
office. He quickly learned the printer's trade,
and the glory of Gutenburg was upon him when
he had the privilege of "throwing in pi," that is,
distributing back into the boxes the jumbled
mass of type that had fallen "off its feet."

Caledonia had a brass band, a real cornet
band, and young Harding played an alto horn

Boyhood Days in a Country Town 31

and learned that "after beats" were as import-
ant as the slip horn or solo trombone. That
excursion of the new band to Chicago, upon
the occasion of the opening of the Erie Railroad,
with $2.40 expense money, was an event in the
young life of the solo alto player of the Cale-
donia Cornet Band, who sweltered in a helmet
somewhat large for him. What is life in a
country town without "belonging to the band?"

The literary society, debates, amateur
dramatics, in fact all activities included the
services of the quiet, but ever-ready American

Young Warren had made a trip to the circus
at Marion and had been there with "the band."
But to live in the county seat, where the big
stone court house was located, and where the
railroads were all junctionized, looked like a
real future. On to college was the exhilarating
vision of Dr. Harding and his wife and family
of children in the early eighties.

These were the days when Caledonia boasted
of eight hundred population and proved it by
the census. Now it is six hundred, but there
are some pessimists left who insist this is too
high. There are fine brick houses, and it is a
real "home town." The historv of all the

32 Warren G. Harding — The Man

famous men who have gone from the town
cluster about high school traditions.

There were tears in the eyes of playmates on
the day the Harding children left Caledonia.
Iberia then seemed far away. Little groups of
the chums gathered, and in brusque boy fashion
bade "Doc" Harding, good-bye, with pledges to
continue to keep the secrets of the "Stunners"
sacred and to smash the "Chain Gang," the
rival organization, at first chance. Then they
whispered confidentially that they would let
him know if the girls were planning one of those
deaf and dumb "surprise parties" where they
served lady-fingers and salad.

Boyhood ties were broken, but boyhood mem-
ories remained.



Dr. George Tyron Harding
Father of Warren G. Harding, Dr. Harding was seventy-six years old
on the day his son was nominated for President



THE distance from the High School in Cale-
donia, which Harding attended, to the
Central Ohio College in Iberia was only
seven short miles — an easy walking distance
for the long-legged farmer lad. The college
no longer exists, having succumbed to institu-
tions with larger facilities. This college, founded
before the Civil War, was a famous under-
ground railway station, pregnant with thrilling
Abolition tales which have never been printed.
At the age of fifteen, Warren Harding appeared
at this co-educational institution, one of only
sixty students. The college was founded by
the United Presbyterian Church, but it later
became undenominational. Dr. Harding hav-
ing the education of his children uppermost in
mind, moved his family to a farm near by,
where young Warren could conveniently do
the milking after college hours. He gave up


36 Warren G. Harding — The Man

college work for one term, and at the age of
seventeen became a school teacher, to earn
money to pay his way through college.

In his three years at this institution Warren
Harding maintained the traditions of school
days portrayed by Tom Brown at Rugby. Al-
though in 1910 he received the degree of Doctor
of Law from this college, the one reminder which
the village people point to with most pride is
the door of Dr. Virtue's office, painted by
Warren Harding forty years ago, with pigments
and craftsmanship that have withstood the
ravages of time. It was good paint.

On the site of the old college on a shaded knoll
resides Frank Miller, an old classmate. He
was a Harding booster at the Chicago Conven-
tion and returned to the green meadows fringed
with maples, with a feeling that his old chum
had at last realized some of the visions they
chaffingly discussed in the moments when
studies grew dull and they walked far afield.

Now came the flood of college anecdotes.
Warren did not fancy chemistry as a study, but
delighted in its experimental opportunities.
The teacher's desk proved a luring laboratory.
Underneath was placed a bottle of hydrogen
sulphide, which was popular because of its

College Days at the "Central Ohio 9 ' 37

strong odor of addled eggs. The stopper was
tied with a string attached to the drawer in the
desk. This drawer when opened meant trouble.
Meek and docile, the embryo chemists waited,
and when the drawer was opened by the teacher
everyone "just looked around," holding their
offended nostrils to escape the olfactory torture.
All assisted in the search, but the aged eggs
were never found to this day, for at noon the
bottle was removed and the mystery remained

The new professor was always telling the
students that they were not as smart as the boys
at Delaware, where he formerly taught. In
the geometry class one day he remarked:

"I wish you boys would do things as they do
them at Delaware."

That night Warren Harding accepted the chal-
lenge — he stayed up far into the morning hours
studying his geometry. At the recitation the
following morning he was called on and
demonstrated propositions for two solid class
hours without an error until the professor fairly
gasped and asked him to cease.

"Is that as good as they do at Delaware?"
asked Warren, with a twinkle in his eye. The
professor said: "I think it is." After that there

38 Warren G. Harding — The Man

was nothing more said about the boys at Dela-

The three years at college deepened his deter-
mination to try a newspaper career and follow
the impulse which had come to him when set-
ting type in the little brick building which still
stands in the town square, where the village
paper was printed. During vacations he re-
turned to Caledonia and worked in a brickyard,
a stiff job in hot weather, but young Harding
was equal to the emergency.

There, were hints of some college romance
and long walks down the country road in the
autumn moonlight, and sleighing parties in the

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