Knowing the Presidents: Warren G. Harding

Warren G. Harding

Twenty-Ninth President, 1921-1923


Warren G. Harding ran his campaign based on party loyalty, supporting an “association of nations” (but not Wilson’s League of Nations). In addition, he called for a federal budget system, a protective tariff policy, a ship subsidy, stricter immigration standards, and lower tax burdens.


Warren G. Harding was overwhelmed by the burdens of the presidency and delegated much of the responsibility to his more able cabinet members. His weakness contributed to the growth of political corruption that eventually led to highly publicized scandals involving officials in the Veterans’ Bureau, the Office of the Alien Property Custodian, the Justice Department, and the Department of the Interior.

Major Acts:

The Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 provided federal subsidies for state programs of maternal and infant health care,

Warren G. Harding advocated labor reform and laid the foundations for an eight-hour work day.Through multiple treaties, the United States succeeded in slowing a naval arms race, securing the annulment of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, and gaining international recognition for its Open Door policy regarding China. Despite these achievements, the main goal, to stabilize peaceful economic development in the Far East, failed.


Warren G. Harding facilitated the nation’s passage through a painful transition between the First World War and peacetime. Although he stabilized a disintegrating executive system, he was easily manipulated by others and is often seen by historians as a mediocre president.