U.S. President Warren G. Harding Pros and Cons of Presidency

About the U.S. President Warren G. Harding, a list of pros and cons in the history of his presidency.

FULL PORTRAITS OF SELECTED PRESIDENTS

29th President

WARREN GAMALIEL HARDING

PRESIDENCY

His 2 Years, 151 Days as President:

PRO

Harding called the Washington Disarmament Conference, which scaled down the naval race and helped to avert war in the Pacific for two decades. Despite his opposition to the League of Nations, he pushed for U.S. participation in the Permanent Court of International Justice.

CON

The idea for the disarmament conference came from Senate leaders, not from Harding. Major credit for success of the conference must go to the brilliant secretary of state, Charles Evans Hughes, who did his job with little supervision from the White House.

PRO

Harding pardoned the imprisoned Socialist leader Eugene Debs. He persuaded the steel industry to move from the man-killing grind of the 12-hour day to the 8-hour day, and other industries followed suit. He established the efficient Bureau of the Budget, reduced the national debt, and cut taxes significantly.

CON

Harding's tax cuts gave maximum benefit to the rich. He showed his lack of humanity in approving discriminatory legislation cutting off immigration of "the rabble" from Europe. Harding's "efficiency" measures were more than counter-balanced by graft and corruption on a scale unprecedented in American history. In the Veterans Bureau alone, a money-hungry Harding appointee cost the taxpayers an estimated $200 million in crooked contracts. Harding himself gave blind approval to the notorious Teapot Dome swindle, in which private oil interests, after bribing the secretary of the interior, were given secret permission to plunder government oil reserves.

PRO

Harding made some distinguished appointments. He named former President Taft to the Supreme Court, thereby giving the country its most able and distinguished Chief Justice in 50 years. His cabinet included three men of outstanding ability and complete dedication: Charles Evans Hughes, secretary of state; Andrew Mellon, secretary of the treasury; and Herbert Hoover, secretary of commerce.

CON

Harding also appointed some of the sleaziest pre-Nixon characters ever to hold high office in America. His secretary of the interior, Albert B. Fall, was convicted of bribery and was the first cabinet officer in history to go to jail. Harding's attorney general, the President's old pal Harry Daugherty, headed a vast influence-peddling scheme from his offices in the Justice Dept., but managed to cover his tracks so well that he was never convicted, although he was brought to trial. In 1923 Daugherty's top aide--with key evidence against Daugherty--"committed suicide" under somewhat suspicious circumstances in the attorney general's apartment. Even though Daugherty admitted that he personally destroyed bank records "to protect the President" and was indicted by a New York grand jury, two successive hung juries allowed the slippery leader of "the Ohio gang" to go free.

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