Joseph Mitchell Chapple.

Warren G. Harding--the man (Volume 2) online

. (page 2 of 4)
Online LibraryJoseph Mitchell ChappleWarren G. Harding--the man (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tingling air of winter. Still living in this local-
ity are some of his old college mates, among
them the co-eds that are now looking up the
scrawled notes which read with classic for-
mality, "Will you accept my company home
tonight?" and bearing a signature that now has
the possibility of sending out invitations to
visit the White House.




GRADUATING from college, young Hard-
ing's eyes turned toward Marion as the
"big town" to "grow up with" and
launch his "bark on the stormy seas of life" —
as read the girl's valedictory. The railroad
maps encouraged the vision that here was to be
builded a real city. Always keeping in mind
the interests of his growing family, Dr. Harding
decided to move to this county seat. He and
the mother ever remained the pals of their boys
and girls. Young Warren soon decided that
his star would shine in the firmament if he could
work on a newspaper. A job secured on a
Democratic newspaper, young Harding felt that
his destiny was assured, for he was permitted
to write locals and put them in type and to run
the old hand press. The father was an enthu-
siastic admirer of James G. Blaine, and so was
his son, Warren. Those were the days of in-


42 Warren G. Harding — The Man

tense feeling, either for or against James G.
Blaine. The editor of the paper despised the
name of Blaine and when he found young Hard-
ing wearing a Blaine hat, that was enough. He
lost his job. The fire of determination was
awakened in the youth whose dreams had been
so rudely shattered. At the age of nineteen
he and a brother printer, Jack Warwick, bought
the Marion Star, then a struggling newspaper,
where the "ghost" seldom "walked" on Saturday
— pay day. His father helped him, but dis-
claims ever having any interest, direct or indi-
rect, in the paper, and Warren G. Harding soon
became "editor and publisher" of a Republican

Now it was work in earnest. He began set-
ting editorials directly from the case, and ad-
dressed the wrappers going to the few admiring
subscribers included in the list of old school
friends in Caledonia — thirty miles away. The
people of Marion and the farmers roundabout
soon grew to admire and love the hard-working
young editor in his struggles to provide for
paper, ink, and payrolls. The Star kept right
on shining and growing more luminous as the
crisp and earnest editorials, hearty home-like
"locals" appeared. At one time or another the

Beginning Life in a Big Town 43

name of nearly every man, woman and child in
Marion appeared in the columns of the Star.

Although famed far and wide as a strong
speaker, he was timid about public addresses
at home. When he delivered his lecture on
" Alexander Hamilton," and took an active part
in the local Chautauqua, the home people were
not thinking of him as a great speaker, but just
looked at him and thought the old thoughts.

The real relations to friends at home are
expressed in the instructions given to all workers
and reporters on the Marion Star by Warren G.
Harding when he launched his career:

Remember there are two sides to every question.
Get both. Be truthful. Get the facts. Mistakes are
inevitable, but strive for accuracy. I would rather have
one story exactly right than a hundred half wrong. Be
decent; be fair; be generous. Boost — don't knock.
There's good in everybody. Bring out the good in
everybody, and never needlessly hurt the feelings of
anybody. In reporting a political gathering give the
facts; tell the story as it is, not as you would like to
have it. Treat all parties alike. If there's any politics
to be played, we will play it in our Editorial Columns.
Treat all religious matters reverently. If it can possi-
bly be avoided, never bring ignominy to an innocent
man or child in telling of the misdeeds or misfortune of
a relative. Don't wait to be asked, but do it without
the asking, and, above all, be clean and never let a

44 Warren G. Harding — The Man

dirty word or suggestive story get into t3-pe. I want
this paper so conducted that it can go into any home
without destroying the innocence of any child.

Warren G. Harding.

The common sense and balance of the young
editor were revealed in a well-defined policy for
the conduct of a newspaper. It did not attract
circulation at first, but eventually it won public
confidence that endures to this day. In public
service Warren G. Harding never dodged the
drudgery of his duty. Every question was to
him a matter of thorough, conscientious, bal-
anced judgment. He wrote editorials every day
on public problems which were quoted far and
wide in Ohio-land, as the expression of a sound




IN the early struggles of rearing the family,
the definite plan of father and mother was
to educate their children. Little was said
of ancestors. They were too busy with the
problems of the present. In moving about,
many of the old relics and heirlooms and records
were scattered, but relatives in the East kindly
furnished the Harding brothers and sisters with
the proof of their right to be enrolled as Sons
and Daughters of the Revolution.

In 1624 Stephen and Richard Harding arrived
at Weymouth Landing, Mass., and joined the
Plymouth Colony. Later, Amos Harding left
for Connecticut, and when the Revolution came
it found his descendants had again removed to
Orange County, New York, and many of the
Hardings enlisted and fought in the Continental
Army with the New York troops. The restless,
adventuresome Harding spirit prevailed, and


48 Warren G. Harding — The Man

the family pushed on to Pennsylvania and
settled in Wyoming Valley.

On the morning before July 4 in 1778 the
cry rang out in Wyoming valley, "Remember
the Hardings." The brave defenders of Forty
Fort made their attack, only to be cut down
by the Tory Butler and his rangers, assisted
by the Seneca Indians in their mad blood-lust.
There were three hundred victims in the
massacre of Wyoming, and among them many
Hardings, ancestors of Warren G. Harding,
who stood their ground on the frontier and left
a tradition of devotion to their firesides, their
country, and their freedom that is imperishable.

Under the willows in a lonely cemetery in this
historic vale is a modest slab erected over the
resting place of Hardings, on which is engraved
the epitaph:

"Sweet be the sleep of those who preferred
death to slavery."

The Hardings fell three days before the
tragic massacre that found its background in one
of the loveliest vales of Pennsylvania. Two of
these fighters were Revolutionary soldiers, Abra-
ham Harding and Captain Stephen Harding.
It was Amos, the son of Abraham, who pushed

Mrs. G. T. Harding

Mother of Warren G. Harding (died May 2Q> jqio )

The Hardings a Hardy Breed 49

on to the West and founded the pioneer home
in Richland County in Ohio-land one hundred
years ago. Five generations of Hardings have
carried on the traditions of their forbears from
the Mid-West. The forbears of Warren G.
Harding never departed from the ideals carried to
Ohio that began with Stephen Harding in 1624,
when he arrived from Devonshire, England, to
become a prominent personage in the Providence

Generation after generation these ideals of
representative government have been reflected
in the lives now obscure, and now eminent
among the virile Harding breed who have
played their part in the creation and triumphs
of government that came with the founding of
New England and the colonies of the New

The Slocum families, related to the Hardings,
were scalped and wiped out in the massacre,
with the exception of a little girl of three,
who was captured and carried off by the
Indians. She was given up for dead after years
of search, but the story of the lost child was
handed down year by year. A vagrant para-
graph in a newspaper relative to the probable
fate of this child came to the attention of

50 Warren G. Harding — The Man

Colonel George Evans, an Indian trader in
Loganport, Indiana. While among the Indians
one day he observed a squaw who did not seem
to act or walk like the rest of the tribe. Her
sleeves were rolled up, revealing the white skin
of her arm, which immediately aroused his
suspicion. He addressed her in the Miami
tongue, calling her a white woman, and she
started, saying, "Yes, I was a white child, but
I can remember nothing of my people."

She was married to the chief of the tribe
which captured her, but had left him to become
the bride of the chief of the Miamis. When
implored to return to her people she refused.
Two grown daughters and a lifetime spent with
the wandering savages had completely weaned
her from her own. The spell of the wild was
stronger than the call of civilization, and a
monument to her memory was erected, com-
memorating her as "The White Rose of the

These are among the traditions recounted to
me by Warren Harding's father.

Although Dr. Harding was seventy-six years
of age the day his son was nominated for
President, he is still making his daily rounds
of calls on patients. He steps sprightly, his

The Har dings a Hardy Breed 51

eyes are not dimmed, nor his vigor abated.
His memory is unerring on past as well as on
present happenings. He seems especially well
informed on all the current political topics, as
well as the economic history of the country
during his long and active life. One could see
the influence of the brain power and tenacious
memory of the father who had trained his son.

The Hardings are a hardy breed.

A visit to Dr. Harding's home, where the
young editor lived in the struggling days of
the Star, reveals a modest structure with maple
trees in front and a narrow, vine-covered porch.
Immediately one feels the homelike, hospitable
atmosphere of a place where real boys and girls
had lived. I had knocked several times before
the door was opened by the handsome and
stately sister of the Republican nominee, who
has maintained the traditions of the family as
a teacher in the high school for a decade. As
she ushered me in, she seemed truly a queen in
gingham. She had been busy about the house-
work. Her name is Abigail Harding, but she
is called "Miss Daisy." Another sister, Mrs.
Votaw, of Washington, D. C, entered later,
having returned from her work as an officer of
the Juvenile Court in Washington, to the old

52 Warren G. Harding — The Man

home. She is the sister who spent ten years
as a missionary in India, and established mis-
sions and dispensaries in Burmah. It was of
her and her brother Warren — the last and the
first born — of whom the mother had said:

"These are consecrated for service to God
and to humanity/ ■

How beautiful it was to hear this family
speak of one another in such terms of affection,
lending a new halo to the meaning of the Ameri-
can home! There was the other son. Dr.
George Tryon Harding, Jr., Columbus, Ohio,
who had chosen his father's profession, in which
he has achieved marked distinction. They
spoke of Charity, Mrs. Remsberg, the sister in
distant California, who was a great chum of
her brother Warren, who christened her with
the pet name of "Chatty" because of genial

What large family is not blessed with the
name of Mary ? A few years ago Mary Harding
passed away in young womanhood, leaving to the
family a precious heritage. Having only slight
vision, she made golden minutes and precious
hours of life, and saw things not revealed to the
physical sense, and her contribution to the
enrichment of the family was a marvelous spir-

The Hardings a Hardy Breed 53

ituality. For years her brother had read to
her, hour after hour, books and papers, discuss-
ing the great questions of the day and the phil-
osophy of life and politics, for which an en-
lightened soul gave her a keen insight. When
this sister and her mother passed beyond the
sight of mortals, the arc of the family circle was
broken and bereft of two choice spirits.

Then we were off to the Doctor's office. The
way was long and the day was hot. Closed cars
were running, but the sprightly young man of
seventy-six led me off at a merry clip down the
tree-lined avenue, while he kept up a cheeery
chat, now and then interjecting something about
Warren and telling me of his horse and why he
did not like automobiles.

"I had two; one I ran into a wire fence trying
to dodge a load of hay, and the other had a meaner
disposition than any balky horse I ever owned.''

Up one flight in the Daily Star building, and
I found myself in Dr. Harding's office. On the
open door was a printed pasteboard sign, that
had been there for many years, evidently printed
in the Star office from wood type, reading:

54 Warren G. Harding — The Man

Open-hearted and frank, there is a whole-
someness that made the visit with the father of
Warren G. Harding one long to be remembered.

Across the hall is his son Warren's editorial
den, and together father and son have been
real comrades, although following different pro-

In the editor's office the Doctor proudly
pointed to the picture of James G. Blaine.

He left me to finish my notes upon the edi-
torial desk of his son. It was a hot, sultry
afternoon, and a little later I peeked into the
Doctor's office. The attendant said: "The
Doctor is taking a little nap after the rush of

I tiptoed quietly down stairs. He was just
the sort of dear old dad we all love.




THE unfolding of the public career of War-
ren G. Harding was as natural as the
processes of evolution in the physical
world. He was born to lead, trained for destiny,
measured up to responsibility, and naturally
grew to Presidential timber.

The home town of Marion honors her distin-
guished son, because from the beginning he has
been the highest exemplification of civic re-
sponsibility and leadership. The growth of the
city from six thousand to thirty-six thousand
has had no more important factor than the work
of Warren Harding. Whatever pertained to the
public good always found in "W. G." an ardent
advocate and supporter. Because of this, the
"home-folk" are for him. They know him,
believe in him, love him.

This describes the man! As he is loved at
home, so he has been regarded abroad, as the
horizon of his activities has widened.


58 Warren G. Harding — The Man

The qualities which have most to do with
the creation of a strong personal following — a
following which is not political so much as
friendly — are first of all a rugged honesty,
Lincolnesque in its directness and simplicity.
It is no small tribute in a large town to know his
friends by their first names and yet to have
retained through a period of thirty-six years
the trust and respect of all. Long service in a
growing American city is a supreme test of a
public man. One of his favorite mottoes is
"Honesty endures," and his home people declare
him sincere as Roosevelt; affable as McKinley,
and with Blaine's capacity for inspiring friend-

His first public office came as the natural
result of his unconscious friend-making. These
friends expressed their views from various angles.

"We want him for the state Senate, for he
looks like a Senator." "We will not nominate
him for any office until we can make him Senator,
for he speaks like a Senator."

This was in 1889. In the campaign, his
enthusiastic father took the picture of his son
from the wall and put it in the window of his
office. This was too much for the modest
Warren. Going in, he took it down, saying:

The Broadening Field of Public Service 59

"Let the other people put up the pictures, Dad;
they all know where you stand."

He served for four years in the turret-towered
capital at Columbus, where his work on com-
mittees, his insight into state and national
questions, his team-work and conference genius
soon marked him as a man destined for wider
fields of usefulness.

From this time his editorials on public and
national questions began to attract wide atten-
tion. Here he shows strong and big. The
files of his paper are an open book. His every
mood and whim was day by day, through a
long period of years, put to the test. He stood
four-square to all questions and discussed them
in a fearless forum with his own people.

His ripe judgment, graceful speech, polished
manner soon drew him to Chautauqua platforms
and on the circuit. His service in the state
Senate won for him the Lieutenant-Governor-
ship of his state in 1903. And in 1908 he first
addressed a national Republican convention.
In the thick of the fight he was a towering figure.

His election to positions of public trust was
now a succession of dates. In 1914 he was
elected to the United States Senate from Ohio
by over 102,000 majority.

60 Warren G. Harding — The Man

Now the broadening career had begun in
earnest. The World War conflagration had
just broken out. The beginning of his Sena-
torial service was contemporaneous with the
advent of a new world order. Here his long
daily study of national and international ques-
tions found scope. He was made a member of
the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, had
much to do with drafting the document declar-
ing a state of war, and later with the conduct
of the great combat.

With all the exacting questions that had to be
met, he soon proved the good judgment of his
home state in sending him to the Senate. The
hours of long study at home, the point of view
gained even from the days when as a boy he sat
in the Caledonia court room listening to the argu-
ments of local attorneys, the ripe experience of
long grappling with questions of national import,
came to flower.

He was soon recognized as a Senator of
balanced brain and heart. His judgment was
sound, having in it the vision of the statesman,
together with the common sense of a trained
business man. Perplexing judicial and diplo-
matic questions were submitted to him, and
in all situations his careful, well-poised, bal-

The Broadening Field of Public Service 61

anced point of view clarified the most complex

In a pre-convention address before the Home
Market Club in Boston, he spoke from the same
platform with Governor Coolidge, the Vice-
Presidential nominee, and little did they, or any
of those present, dream that this combination
of brain, power and leadership would be com-
bined on one ticket. Here Warren G. Harding
paid a tribute to Roosevelt as the one who had
brought the awakening of the American con-
science and closed with this prayerful prophecy:

"I like to think that we in the United States of
America have come nearer to establishing dependable
popular government than any people in the world. Let
us cling to the things which made us what we are. We
are eminent in the world, and self-respecting as no other
people are. Yet America has just begun. It is only
morning in our National life. I believe there is a destiny
for this Republic; that we are called to the inheritance,
and are going on to its fulfillment. Let us have our
faces to the front. Let us cling fast to the inheritance
which is ours, never fearing the enemy from without,
but watching the enemies from within, and move on to
the fulfillment of a splendid destiny."

The scene now shifts to the Republican Na-
tional Convention at Chicago in 1920. The

62 Warren G. Harding — The Man

time for constructive leadership in the most
crucial period of the world's history has come.
"Who is sufficient for these things?" Even the
delegates were confused. Day after day passed.
Ballot after ballot was taken. The convention
was deadlocked. The long vigils and sleepless
nights brought no solution until somebody
voiced the unspoken thought of many: "With
Harding in the White House, the country can
sleep nights." Slowly, surely, the deep, sober
judgment of the convention began to crystal-
lize about the sentiment. The more the dele-
gates thought about it, the more they came to
believe it — the wonder was that they had not
thought about it before. Not by sudden action,
but by slow birth, was chosen a new leader in
American politics.

Warren G. Harding was the man.




AFTER the nomination in Chicago, the big
whistles in the "shovel factory" at Marion
sounded for the call to celebrate. They
have the roar of an ocean liner. Here is where
the steam shovels were manufactured that dug
the Panama Canal. In the railroad restaurant,
and everywhere, were evidences of the celebra-
tion on Saturday night when the news was
received from Chicago that "W. G." had been
nominated. Every electric light post on East
Center Street was adorned with a cluster of
flags. Crude photographs were hastily posted
in the windows of homes and stores. Here were
the home folks among whom he had lived, and
when I asked a small boy of twelve in the res-
taurant if he had met Mr. Harding, "Nope, I
never saw Mr. Harding, but you know we all
just know him anyhow." Another lad entered
whom they called "Happy," and his smiling face


66 Warren G. Harding — The Man

indicated the appropriateness of his name.
Nothing escapes the brusque and frank ex-
pressiveness of nicknames in real American boy-
life. The trains were coming in from all direc-
tions — Erie, Hocking Valley, Big Four and
Pennsy., indicating that Marion may be another
Canton for the pilgrimage of admirers and
supporters of the candidate when the front
porch campaign begins — a fitting setting for
a porch campaign.

East Center Street, with churches on one side
and a school on the other, impressed the writer
with what the average American town considers
first. There was the omnipresent Orpheum and
moving picture houses, billboards, and all the
appurtenances that belong to the average city.
It was a hot day, and some of the housewives
were rocking on the porch under the vines for a
breathing spell after the morning work. There
was the old stone courthouse from which the
street cars and interurban radiate. On the
Marion County Bank was a sign saying it was
founded in 1839, so that it must be understood
that Marion is a city with a history. Every-
body seemed to be mowing the front lawn, and
painters were busy, for Marion appreciated its
responsibility in the coming campaign.

When the News Reached the Home Folks 67

The temptation was too much, and I dropped
in at the stores to find out just what they
thought of Warren Harding. One of the first
I met was jolly Dick Crissinger. He an-
nounced that he had always been a Democrat,
but insisted that Warren G. Harding was a
"live one" and this was the year that he would
vote the Republican ticket. The plumbers,
the bakers, the little shoe shops and the big
department stores were filled with people who
were eager to tell you about "W. G.," as he is
affectionately called. An organization was
launched by Dick Crissinger, who was twice the
Democratic nominee for Congress, to organize
a Harding-for-President Club that would make
the election practically unanimous in the Marion
district. Old-time Republicans rubbed their
eyes as they saw the wheel-horse Democrats at
work for Harding.

After the nomination the boys were kept busy
sending bundles and bundles of letters and
telegrams of congratulation pouring in from all
cities and states to follow the candidate to
Washington. The Hoo Hoos, good-natured
with their black cat ensign, Knights of Pythias,
Loyal Order of Moose, The Elks, the Red Men,
the Odd Fellows, and every civic organization
to which he belonged, vied with each other in

68 Warren G. Harding — The Man

fraternal and almost affectionate greetings, for
Warren Harding has always been a real "jiner."

On Mount Vernon Street, lined with beautiful
maples, is located the home of Mr. and Mrs.
Warren G. Harding. They were preparing for
the home-coming, and the three hundred feet
of porch space was being polished. It was a
simple, modest, but substantial home. In the
early struggles of the Star, W T arren Harding
courted and won the favor of Florence Kling.
The father opposed the match and insisted that
they could not be married with his consent, but
the young people kept on and drew the plans
for a house of their own in which to be married.
In the meantime, the bride-to-be studied the

2 4

Online LibraryJoseph Mitchell ChappleWarren G. Harding--the man (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 4)