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Harding Home & Memorial

380 Mount Vernon Avenue
Marion, OH

Phone: 614-387-9630 -- 800/600-6894

Statement of Purpose

Warren Gamaliel Harding, the twenty-ninth president of the United States, lived in this house with his wife, Florence, from 1891 until his election as president in 1920. It was from this building that Harding conducted the famous "front-porch" campaign that launched him into the White House.

Harding led a warweary nation in the transition from the aggression of World War I into the peace and prosperity of the 1920s. His home is a memorial to the service he gave his country.


Warren Gamaliel Harding was born November 2, 1865, in Blooming Grove, Ohio, the first of eight children born to Dr. G. Tryon and Phoebe Dickerson Harding. He attended public school at Caledonia, and earned a bachelor of science degree from Ohio Central College after three years of study.

Harding also received a practical education in journalism, serving as a printer's apprentice on the weekly Caledonia Argus. After the Hardings moved to Marion in 1883, he worked on the Marion Democratic Mirrr. His apprenticeships paid off in 1884, when Harding purchased the Marion Starand became its editor and publisher.

Harding married Florence Kling DeWolfe - the divorced daughter of one of Marion's wealthiest and most prominent Republicans - on July 8, 1891, in the house they planned and built together - the Harding Home.


Harding became involved in local Republican politics and in 1898 was elected to the first of two terms in the state Senate. He was elected lieutenant governor in 1903, but declined renomination in 1905 and returned to his newspaper. Although he lost his 1910 bid for the governor's office, Harding was elected by a sizable majority to the U.S. Senate in 1914.

Harding's increasing political stature led to his selection to give the speech nominating Ohioan William Howard Taft for president at the 1912 Republican national convention. In 1916, Harding delivered the convention's keynote address. Four years later, backed by a loyal group of Marion friends and other Ohio supporters, he won his party's nomination for president.

He campaigned on the slogans "return to normalcy" and "America first," which appealed to a nation still shocked and bewildered by the violence and heavy death tolls of World War I. Many Americans felt that the solution was to withdraw from world politics and concentrate on restoring normal business operations at home. Harding's slogans promised such solutions.

He delivered his messages in speeches given from the front porch of his Marion home, a tactic first used by fellow Ohioan William McKinley in his successful 1896 presidential campaign. Although Harding traveled by train for at least four campaign tours, he concentrated his efforts on speeches given from his porch before gathered crowds and, more importantly, the press.

Harding and his running mate, Calvin Coolidge, won the election over Democratic presidential nominee James M. Cox - a former Ohio governor and publisher of the Dayton Daily New - and vice-presidential nominee Franklin D. Roosevelt in a landslide.


Harding s administration had its achievements and its weaknesses. An opponent of the League of Nations, Harding took an unprecedented step in 1921 by inviting representatives of the world's five great powers - France, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the United States - to Washington to draw up treaties to limit naval armaments. The conference - the first international peace meeting of its kind ever held - and its work won worldwide acclaim. Harding also advocated American membership in the World Court and building peaceful relations between the United States and Germany.

In domestic policy, Harding moved to improve the nation's economy by reducing government expenditures, easing taxes, and returning the railways to private control. He also struck blows for civil rights by freeing Socialist Eugene Debs who had been arrested for speaking out against the war - and supporting voting rights for blacks.

Handsome, friendly, and well-spoken, Harding was an extremely popular president. But the stress of the presidency, as well as his poor health, wore Harding down. In June 1923, he and his wife began a trip across the continent to Alaska. Harding had a bad heart and had been stricken with influenza that year. Further weakened by travel and by the stress of soon-to-be-revealed scandals, Harding died of a cerebral hemorrhage August 2, 1923, in San Francisco. Thousands turned out to view the funeral train that carried the president's body from Washington, D.C., to Marion, where it was placed in a temporary tomb at Marion Cemetery.

A few months later, the nation's grief turned to shock as two scandals were revealed. Most wellknown is the Teapot Dome affair, in which government officials conspired to lease federal oil reserves in a way that benefited them financially. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall was charged with bribery, becoming the first Cabinet member ever to be convicted on criminal charges. In another scandal, the director of the Veterans Bureau, Charles Forbes, pocketed several million dollars of his agency's $250 million budget. Although Harding probably was unaware of the Teapot Dome affair and learned of Forbes' treachery just months before his death, the scandals have become - fairly or unfairly - synonymous with his administration.

In 1927, the bodies of the president and Mrs. Harding, who died in Marion in 1924, were moved to the newly constructed Harding Memorial, which was built through public donations, including numerous dime contributions from schoolchildren.


From 1964-65, the Harding Memorial Association restored the home to its turn-of-the-century appearance. The original gas lights, which had been wired for electricity, were restored; decorations were duplicated in detail; and original furnishings were returned to their former positions. The Press Building at the rear of the house, built in 1920 for reporters working during the front-porch campaign, was transformed into a museum.

Harding Memorial, located south of Marion on state route 423, is a circular monument of white Georgia marble in a ten-acre landscaped park.


For information about events and otber places of interest around the state, please call toll-free 1 800 BUCKEYE.

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