|Marion, OH||June 22, 2005|
A bold businesswoman, Florence Harding used her acumen to bolster her spouse’s 1920 presidential campaign. “I know what’s best for the president,” Harding asserted of her husband. “I put him in the White House.” Warren G. Harding was elected to serve in the White House from March 4, 1921 to March 4, 1925. By the time that latter date arrived, though, both he and the first lady were dead. Their bodies were being held in a receiving vault at Marion Cemetery in Ohio, where they remained until the completion of their permanent tomb in 1927.
The Harding Memorial is constructed of Georgia marble and features 46 Doric columns 28 feet in height. The first couple is interred in the center of the open-air structure. Their gravestones are decorated with bronze wreaths.
Florence Harding was the first of two future-first ladies who were divorced when they wed their future-president spouses. She was divorced from Henry DeWolfe in 1886 and married Warren Harding in 1891. The second divorced first lady was Betty Ford. She was bound in holy matrimony to Gerald Ford in 1948, one year after the termination of her first marriage to William Warren.
Warren Harding was the sixth U.S. president to die in office, and the third from natural causes. There were rumors, however, that the chief executive was poisoned. The perpetrator, it was alleged, was none other than Florence Harding! Her motive was supposedly to save her husband the embarrassment sure to accompany the scandals underway in the Executive Branch, such as Teapot Dome. These accusations were propagated by former Harding administration official Gaston Means in his book, The Strange Death of President Harding, from 1930. Mrs. Harding could not defend her reputation from Means attacks, for she was dead herself by that time. Means’ ghostwriter, May Dixon Thacker, subsequently assailed their collaborative publication for its lack of documentation. The murder allegations largely subsided, though not entirely.
"I have only one real hobby — my husband."
- Florence Harding
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Trihaft, Andrew K. “Warren G. Harding Memorial.” Clio: Your Guide to History. Updated April 27, 2020. Accessed April 23, 2022. https://www.theclio.com/entry/100746.
White House Historical Association. “Florence Harding.” Accessed April 22, 2022. https://www.whitehousehistory.org/bios/florence-harding.