#29: Review of “Warren G. Harding” by John Dean (1921-23)

#29: Review of “Warren G. Harding” by John Dean (1921-23)

Next time Harding’s name comes up in conversation (so not for a while probably…unless I have something to say about it!), I want you to think of Gamiliel from the Bible. Say what? Gamaliel…ya know, Jesus’s gardner? Just kidding. He was a Jewish Rabbi that’s known for his wise counsel (see Acts 5:38-39). Harding’s middle name describes him well; thoughtful & wise.

I really like Harding, especially his patience and kindness. The book described how early on in his political career he didn’t seek out higher offices, but they tended to seek him. I want to live more like this. 

A guy I really look up to said the same thing is true for Christians in regards to how we should approach our work:

“Focus on the process of the work. The results are none of your business. Find the lowest place you can serve & if the Lord so chooses to move you up, then up you go, but don’t go seeking higher places.”

I struggle mightily to live this out. I’m hungry/ambitious/whatever you want to call it…never satisfied perhaps. Most people, including myself most of the time, praise ambition. I don’t think it’s all bad AND it seems kinda silly to strive so hard when, for the Christian, we believe that we’ve already got true soul rest in Jesus. All this to say, the way Harding largely went about his work challenged me. Does any of this resonate with you? 

This is what I think Trump could learn from Harding is his humility and willingness to not take credit for things. What if?

The book wastes no time in describing that “Warren G. Harding is best known as America’s worst President.” I think this is totally not true (I’d put Johnson or Tyler at the bottom of my list so far); however, the main reason he’s labeled such is because of the Teapot Dome scandal which is considered the worst political scandal of the 20th century second to Watergate. Yikes! The basics of the scandal are that one of Harding’s cabinet members made money illegally from government oil reserves. 

The book says he was one of the most popular Presidents at the time of his death. 9 million people turned out to pay their respects to his body as it traveled by train from San Francisco to D.C. He admirably relieved the economy from financial debt cutting expenditures by 1 billion dollars. A hard decision he had to make was shutting down a popular program to pay all the World War I veterans that the majority of the states were in favor of. He said no to stick to his campaign pledge to improve the health of our economy. This contributed to the roaring 20s which he unfortunately didn’t get to enjoy the fruit of due to his death on August 2, 1923 at the age of 57.

5 fun facts about Harding

  1. He was our 1st President to visit Alaska which was a territory at the time. It wouldn’t become our 49th state until 1959. 
  2. His favorite hymn like that of William Mckinley was “Nearer My God to Thee.” 
  3. He’s 1 of 7 of our Presidents from OH. The most represented state with 8 is Virginia.
  4. He was our 1st President to talk on the radio (radio became popular in the early 1900s).
  5. He allowed alcohol to still be served in the White House among close company during Prohibition (1920-1933). Whoops!

Further learning: 

-you’ve got to check out this super sophisticated Siena College Presidential ranking list. It has Harding at the bottom (#41/44 right ahead of Trump @ #42/44). Would love to know your thoughts on these rankings!!

-the hometown newspaper that Harding ran for most of his career, the Marion Star, is still going strong!! 

-if you’re new to the newsletter or want to read a short summary of all the prior Presidents + some other good stuff like my attempt to record every book that I’ve ever read (in order) visit www.ilovethepresidents.com.

Shoutout to YOU!!:

Thanks to all those that responded to my last newsletter. The winner of the $5 Starbucks gift card is…Nathan “Bummer-rooski!” Arnold!! Congrats, Nathaniel! My people will call your people.

Are there any questions that you have about Presidential History/my journey that I can answer? I would LOVE to engage with any of your questions/wonderings that you might have. Email me at houstonclark93@gmail.com if so. 

Buy the book here.

Next up, Calvin Coolidge!

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