Presidency and Policies of Warren Harding

From 1921 to 1923, Warren G. Harding served as the United States’ twenty-ninth president until dying of a heart attack. While Warren Harding was not implicated in any wrongdoing, his presidency was overshadowed by some of his cabinet members and other government officials’ criminal activities.

Warren Harding was a prominent newspaper publisher who served in the Ohio legislature and the United States Senate. He was born in Ohio and was a Republican. In a landslide victory in the general election of 1920, he promised a “return to normalcy” after World War I’s difficulties. He supported pro-business policies and immigration restrictions as president. Vice President Calvin Coolidge succeeded Harding after he died unexpectedly in San Francisco in 1923. The Teapot Dome Scandal and other cases of corruption emerged after Harding’s death, undermining his reputation.

Economic Policy

Warren G. Harding’s economic policies mirrored the mainstream economic theory of the time. According to popular belief, the 1920s saw a significant reduction in government intervention, both domestically and abroad. Harding and Coolidge are widely regarded as staunch proponents of laissez-faire economics and foreign policy nonintervention. Liberal historians, once again, have exaggerated their case.

During the first World War, the income tax rate was increased from seven percent to an unparalleled seventy-three percent. Under both Harding and Coolidge, Andrew Mellon, Secretary of the Treasury, claimed that such suffocating costs were harming the economy. He also thought that the high rate cost the government more money than a lower rate.

The rich were sheltering their earnings rather than exposing themselves to harsh taxes due to the too high rates. The federal tax code permitted them to retain twenty-seven cents of every dollar received if they invested well, but if they failed to support well, they would lose 100 cents of every dollar.

Businesses, on the other hand, were cash-strapped. Money that should have gone into business investment was instead invested in state bonds. The states had plenty of cash to throw around to finance various dubious programs, but the private sector was in trouble.

Consequently, not only did federal income increase—a regrettable part of Mellon’s policy—but, more importantly, economic activity multiplied by a factor of ten. These tax cuts undeniably contributed to the prosperity of the 1920s. In 1926, unemployment was at a historically low of one percent.

During the 1920s, United States flourished. Companies set new production records. Wages have risen while working hours have decreased. These results emerged when trade union membership was rapidly declining to emphasize the futility of labor unionism once more.

Foreign Policies

Charles Evans Hughes, a leading internationalist, collaborated with Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover and Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon to develop a foreign policy that enabled the United States to engage in global economic life while maintaining independence in international relations.

They hoped to use American banks, such as the John D. Rockefeller-backed Chase National Bank, to take over the handling and funding of international trade from British financiers.

Hughes and Hoover used the Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act’s reciprocity provisions to secure minor concessions on oil in the Middle East and rubber in Malaya, especially in Iraq and Iran. Hoover and Hughes persuaded seven American oil companies, led by Standard Oil of New Jersey, to join a consortium to pursue participation in Iraqi oil concessions, launching an “open door” policy for US investment in Middle Eastern energy resources.

Dawes Plan

The president did not want the enormous war reparations that Germany had to pay, such as compensation paid by the loser in a war to the winner, to continue destroying the German economy, which was still in shambles. He had a committee led by Charles Dawes draft a repayment plan that Germany could manage far more quickly. The Dawes Plan established a repayment schedule for Germany, and the German economy began to stabilize and strengthen.

Domestic Policies

The domestic policies and affairs of Warren Harding are attractive, but the poor ones take precedence. Similar to Ulysses Grant’s presidency, it was his chosen officials who were corrupting the nation. His selected officials saw their role as a means of accumulating money. His administration was dragged down to its lowest point due to his party allegiance.

Even though Warren Harding is widely regarded for his scandals, he did leave a legacy of favorable policies. After World War One, he did what all presidents should do to aid their country’s recovery: lowered taxes. Warren Harding successfully got the United States out of the war and returned it to normalcy by reducing the national debt by twenty-six billion dollars. He also established the Bureau of the Budget, responsible for overseeing and budgeting the government’s budget and putting restrictions on government expenditure to deter corruption. During his presidency, this department was considered to be one of his nominated topics.

Civil Rights

He also sought to uphold civil rights by enacting the Anti-Lynching Act and speaking out against discrimination against minorities. Through his amnesty, he freed Eugene V Debs, a democrat. They had been imprisoned under the Espionage Act for speaking out against President Woodrow Wilson’s decision to enter World War I.

Warren Harding was a strong supporter of civil rights, especially for African Americans. He gave a speech in Birmingham, Alabama, to a segregated audience, which was quite a risky move during the Deep South’s Jim Crow period. He also urged Congress to pass an anti-lynching bill, which Southern Democrats filibustered in the Senate.


He aided in the protection of African-American civil rights by passing the Anti-Lynching Act and the farmer’s rights by enacting too high tariffs. Regrettably, many of them were destroyed by his hastily appointed officials.

Warren Harding’s credibility suffered due to the Ohio cronies’ scandals, but he didn’t give up. He intended to improve people’s understandings, but he died before he could correct his errors. On August 2nd, 1923, he died of a heart attack in San Francisco. More controversies emerged after his assassination, further damaging his image as a president and shaming him as the worst president in US history.