Warren G. Harding

Ohio History Connection

Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923) was an entrepreneur and a renowned orator who quickly rose through the ranks of Ohio politics.  In 1920, he launched a front porch campaign from his home in Marion, Ohio, a strategy that echoed his campaign's theme of a "Return to Normalcy" and propelled him to office as our 29th President.

The Marion Star
After moving to Marion, Harding occasionally worked as a reporter. He purchased the Marion Star in 1884, and within five years had turned it into one of the most successful small-town newspapers in the state.

This photograph shows Warren Harding setting type at the headquarters of his newspaper, the Marion Star. This image was taken during the 1920 "front porch" campaign.

Warren G. Harding at the headquarters of his newspaper, the Marion Star, during the 1920 "front porch" campaign. He is pictured setting type.

Harding's Front Porch Campaign
After a deadlocked convention, Harding went from underdog to the Republican Party's nominee for President. He launched a "front porch" campaign from his home in Marion, Ohio, which capitalized on his skill as an orator and the power of celebrity.

Warren and Florence Harding waving to a crowd of supporters during the 1920 "front porch" campaign. This photo was taken at their home in Marion, Ohio.

Crowds of people traveled to Marion to hear Harding's speeches during his "front porch" campaign. Here a large crowd is gathered in front of his house, one of whom has a sign which reads "You tell 'em Harding."

Warren Harding addressing a crowd gathering at the front porch of his home in Marion during the 1920 "front porch" campaign.

This campaign poster, created by artist Howard Chandler Christy, portrays Harding as a populist counterpoint to the wave of reforms begun during Theodore Roosevelt's administration.

Warren Harding with Al Jolson during the "front porch" campaign. Jolson (1886-1950) was a singer and entertainer, especially well known for the 1927 film the Jazz Singer, the first talking picture. The image shows Warren Harding on the far left and Jolson on the far right, standing next to Florence Harding.

This photograph shows (from left to right) Warren Harding, actress Blanche Ring (1877-1961), entertainer Al Jolson, and politician Charles Evans Hughes during the "front porch" campaign of 1920. Jolson (1886-1950) was especially well known for the 1927 film the Jazz Singer, the first talking picture. Hughes (1862-1948) was governor of New York, and a presidential candidate in 1916 (running against Woodrow Wilson). He served as Harding's secretary of state and in 1930 became chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Photograph of William Hayes during Warren G. Harding's presidential election, 1920.

This photograph shows the press house on the grounds of Warren G. Harding's Marion home. It was used by members of the media who covered Harding's "front porch" campaign. This image shows Harding leaving a full press house.

Warren Harding and his future wife, Florence Kling, planned and built the house just before their marriage on July 8, 1891. Harding used the home for his 1920 "front porch" campaign for president, and built the press house in the back of the house so that his speeches could be broadcast more widely. The Hardings lived in the home until 1921, when they moved to the White House.

The 1920 Election and President Harding
The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in August of 1920, which lead Mrs. Harding to the polls with millions of women for to vote for the first time. Harding won the Presidency with 60% of the popular vote, and Mrs. Harding became the first First Lady to vote in a national election.

This photograph shows Warren Harding in line with his wife, Florence, waiting to vote.

Warren G. Harding and Florence Harding voting in the 1920 presidential election. They are pictured turning in their ballots. Florence Harding was the first First Lady to vote, following the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, which granted women the right to vote.

This photograph shows Warren G. Harding voting in 1920. Harding is shown here handing off his completed ballot to the poll-worker.

This photograph shows Thomas Edison sleeping in the foreground with Harvey Firestone and Warren Harding in the background. The caption written on the scrapbook from which this photograph was taken (but that was not included) reads "Mr. Edison enjoys nature."

This photograph shows inventor Thomas Edison talking to President Warren G. Harding during a camping trip in 1921 taken with rubber manufacturer Harvey Firestone and automobile manufacturer Henry Ford. Edison (1847-1931) was born in Milan, Ohio and is famous for his many inventions, including the phonograph and the light bulb. He was one of the original founders of the "vagabonds" a group of prominent men who went camping on several different occasions between 1916 and 1924. Harding was invited to their camping trip in Maryland in July of 1921, which became known as "Camp Harding."

On Christmas 1921, President Warren G. Harding was given a silver locket containing a portrait of Abraham Lincoln along with a lock of his hair. The engraved inscription on the back reads “This lock of hair was cut from the head of Abraham Lincoln April 15, 1865 by Schuyler Colfax for Mrs. Lincoln, from whom it passed to her sister [Mrs.] Ninian Edwards and to her daughter Julia Edwards Baker, then to Lucy Harmon McPherson, the daughter of Judge Harmon, Lincoln’s intimate friend and then to a friend of President Harding, who presents it to him as the exemplar of Lincoln’s spirit and the exponent of his democracy. Christmas 1921” President Warren G. Harding’s initials are engraved on the front.

On Christmas 1921, President Warren G. Harding was given a locket containing a portrait of Abraham Lincoln along with a lock of his hair. The portrait is a painted sketch based from a photograph taken in April 1861. Text under the portrait reads, “To Mrs. Lucy G. Speed, from whose pious hand I accepted the present of an Oxford Bible twenty years ago. A. Lincoln”

America's Pastime
Harding was an avid baseball fan who co-owned a minor league team in Marion, Ohio, and invited baseball legend Babe Ruth to the White House on multiple occasions.

This photograph shows Warren G. Harding and a Chicago Cubs player examining baseballs in Marion, Ohio, on September 2, 1920. Bystanders include another Cubs player and several men in business attire. On this date Harding attended an exhibition game between the Chicago Cubs and the Kerrigan Tailors, a semi-professional team from Marion, Ohio. Organized by supporters of Harding's campaign, the game was intended to create a favorable impression of the candidate as a man who enjoyed the national pastime. Harding threw three pitches for the Kerrigan Tailors. The Cubs defeated the local team.

Warren G. Harding pitching during an exhibition game between the Chicago Cubs and the Kerrigan Tailors. Date of the game was Sept. 2, 1920. Wearing light-colored slacks and shoes and a darker sport jacket, Harding is positioned to the left of two unidentified Cubs players, one of whom is holding a boater hat and a baseball glove. A blurry line of spectators is visible in the background.

George Herman "Babe" Ruth, the famous New York Yankees outfielder, sent this letter to Mrs. Florence Harding after President Warren G. Harding's death in office. Harding died unexpectedly on August 2, 1923, after completing a speaking tour of Alaska. President Harding was an avid sportsman and a great fan of baseball.

Death of a President
Warren Harding died unexpectedly on August 2, 1923, the result of a cerebral hemorrhage. His body was returned to Marion, Ohio, where it is entombed at Harding Memorial Park. 

The tomb of Warren G. Harding and Florence Harding was completed in 1927, and President and Mrs. Harding's bodies were moved to the tomb in December of that year. On June 16, 1931 the tomb was officially dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge.

Today, you can visit the Warren G. Harding Home & Memorial and stand on the same porch where Harding delivered the speeches that propelled him to the White House.

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