Uphill All the Way: The Fortunes of Progressivism, 1919-1929
By Kevin C. Murphy, Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

Click HERE to return to the full Table of Contents

Chapter Five:
The Politics of Normalcy

Progressives and the Fight for Good Government

I. The Harding White House

I. The Harding White House.
II. Organizing in Opposition
III. Lobbies Pestiferous
IV. The Taint of Newberryism
V. The Harding Scandals
VI. Tempest From a Teapot

"I think we are all just marking time under Harding. So many people expected nothing at all from him, or worse, that they are agreeably surprised that he hasn't done as badly as they thought he would. And so we hear the general expression that 'Harding is doing better than we expected.' All of which means only that nothing at all was expected." - Harold Ickes, 1922.1

"I do not suppose there has been in the history of the world an era of more sordid corruption than has characterized public life during the last few years." - Willam Borah, 1926.2

"One of the very foundations for which the Progressive cause stands is that every man, whether he be an official or a private citizen, should vote his conscientious convictions and should not be controlled or influenced by any machine, organization, or political boss." - George Norris, 1932.3

Entering office with a decisive mandate and large majorities in Congress, the Harding administration introduced an agenda in April 1921 that, for the most part, set the template for federal public policy during the decade. While attempts by Congressional progressives to organize in opposition were usually of limited effect, Senate progressives did find one useful rallying cry in decrying the influence of money in politics. Through dogged persistence over many years, they worked to uncover and expose the full extent of the Harding scandals, but garnering the righteous indignation of a cynical and distracted nation turned out to be a harder climb.
The Harding White House

"Ring out the old, ring in -- something a little older," grimaced The New Republic in March 1921, the week of Warren Harding's ascendancy to the White House. Like many progressives, the editors of TNR were still coming to grips with the clear mandate the American people had granted Senator from Ohio five months earlier.4

In January 1921, perhaps as a reflection of either the denial or bargaining stage the editors had reached by that point, the magazine had hoped beyond hope that somehow Harding was contemplating a break with the Old Guard and a move toward progressive statesmanship. "The circumstances have conspired to endow Harding with a measure of freedom of choice such as no other President-elect, at least in our generation, ever enjoyed," the magazine pleaded. "The upshot is that Harding stands at the crossroads, the most remarkable exemplification of free will in American political history. He may go either to the right or to the left, as he chooses. He may give us the best or the worst administration we have ever had. Nothing is fixed by the stars." If Harding looked to posterity and decided to choose the road of "toil and virtue" over that of "ease and joy," great things might still be expected from the coming administration.5

Of course, as with every other new president, the first indication of Harding's intentions would be his selection of a Cabinet. This, from a progressive perspective, was looking to be a split decision. "Apparently, Mr. Harding's cabinet is a mixture of oil and water," TNR reported the week of the inauguration. On one hand, Harding's choice for Secretary of State, Charles Evans Hughes, "represents his conscience." On the other hand, Attorney General Harry Daugherty and Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall of New Mexico - a Senate friend of Harding's who took the position after the intended occupant, oil baron Jake Hamon. was shot and killed by his mistress -- were "unspeakably bad appointments," and "exactly the sort of men who drove Roosevelt to rebellion in 1912…They are full blown specimens of the manipulating politician who serves private and predatory interests."6

The rest seemed like a wash. "It is bad business to select a political manager" like Republican Chairman Will Hays to be Postmaster-General, but "every President has done it" and, anyway, he was assuredly better than Burleson. "[I]f Mr. Hays were the only concession to that bad principle, he would be acceptable." As for Treasury, that "will go either to Mr. Mellon of Pittsburgh or to Mr. Dawes of Chicago…About Mr. [Henry] Wallace, who is mentioned for Agriculture, we hear good things but nothing very definite. About Mr. John J. Davis, mentioned for Labor, we hear nothing except that he is somehow related to the A.F.L." In any case, Labor "will never be much of a department until some man of large calibre makes it important."7

Such a man, to TNR, would be the make-or-break element of the coming administration anyway, if he chose to join it -- Herbert Hoover. If Hoover were to take Secretary of Commerce, as rumored, "it would mean that he was virtually a minister without portfolio. But it is not a bad job for him" since "only partly occupied by his departmental duties, he could range afield." And if Herbert Hoover and Charles Evans Hughes were to make common cause against the likes of Daugherty and Fall, then all the better. "They are the two men, the only two men in whom the people at large have genuine confidence…Both of them take enormous personal risks in entering such a cabinet, and both of them will be tested to the limit. Of them much is expected; of the others practically nothing, or worse than nothing."8

In fact, the idea of Herbert Hoover in the Harding administration enraged the Republican Old Guard. As Frank Brandegee of Connecticut put it, "Hoover gives most of us gooseflesh," and, isn't this exactly why they had hand-picked Harding in the first place? Already, the president-elect had chosen "the whiskered Wilson," Charles Evans Hughes, as Secretary of State. The fact that the Great Engineer was, like Hughes, demonstrably pro-League only further hardened hearts against him - including and especially those of Irreconcilables William Borah and Hiram Johnson.9

But the president-elect was resolute. "I think there is very much of political significance involved in considering him," he explained. To another friend, he deemed the Great Engineer "the smartest gink I know." As Hoover later remembered it, "Mr. Harding, soon after election, sent me word he would like me to join his Cabinet. I heard nothing more for nearly three months and assumed there was nothing in it. The long delay in announcement was due to the opposition of Senators Penrose and Lodge. They were urging Andrew Mellon for Secretary of the Treasury. Harding subsequently informed me that he had told them, 'Mellon and Hoover or no Mellon.'" And so, Secretary of Commerce Hoover came along with the world's second richest man, after John D. Rockefeller, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon -- whom Harding soon deemed "the ubiquitous financier of the universe" and who gained a reputation in certain circles -- namely those who agreed with his multi-year campaign to lower taxes on the rich -- as the "greatest Secretary of the Treasury since Alexander Hamilton." Both men would remain central fixtures of the next three presidencies.10

As it happened, the conditions the Great Engineer put forward in taking the Commerce post were not unlike those suggested by TNR. "I was interested in the job of reconstruction and development in front of us," Hoover wrote, and so, "for the Department to be of real service, I must have a voice on all important economic policies of the administration," be they "business, agriculture, labor, finance, [or] foreign affairs." Harding promptly agreed and informed all of his other Cabinet members except Hughes, since, according to Hoover, "he seemed a little afraid of his stiff Secretary of State." Nonetheless, Hoover recalled, "Mr. Hughes was enthusiastic over both the idea and my entry into the government."11

Incorporating notable figures like Hoover, Hughes, and Mellon into the administration had been a campaign promise of sorts. "I should not be fit to hold the high office of president," Harding said on the trail, "if I did not frankly say that it is a task which I have no intention of undertaking alone." Instead, he promised he would bring "the best minds in the United States" together to help run the country. But even as Harding took on these notable Secretaries (though his original choice for Secretary of State -- one Hughes had even suggested -- had been Albert Fall), the president-elect was not one to turn his back on loyal comrades either. When it was suggested to him, more than once, that Harding pick anyone else other than Harry Daugherty as the nation's top lawyer, Harding finally exclaimed, "Harry Daugherty has been my best friend from the beginning of this whole thing. I have told him that he can have any place in my Cabinet he wants, outside of Secretary of State. He tells me that he wants to be Attorney General and by God he will be Attorney General!" Further down the executive hierarchy from the Cabinet, cronyism was even more in evidence -- "God, I can't be an ingrate," he apparently said of his many quid-pro-quo appointments to old political friends.12

Although not by nature a man to hold a grudge, Harding did decide to stand in the way of Leonard Wood's dream of retiring as the Secretary of War, and instead offered him the Governorship of the Philippines, a post which was also conveniently over on the other side of the planet. (Elihu Root thought the offer a "damned insult," but Wood eventually took it anyway.) Instead he chose Republican Party financier John W. Weeks for the post, who in turn recommended for Secretary of the Navy three-term Congressman Edwin Denby -- another of the men who would be integral in Harding's eventual fall from grace.13

While not a Cabinet choice, the new president managed to enrage progressives in the first months of his presidency by choosing one of their ancient nemeses, William Howard Taft, to serve as the new Chief Justice. "I regard Taft as utterly unfit to be a member of the Supreme Court," wrote Harold Ickes, who thought the choice "disgusting." Ickes applauded his friend Hiram Johnson for voting against the appointment and noted that "I don't see how anyone who went through the 1912 fight on the Progressive side could have done otherwise." Senator Johnson thought that the nomination was "the most sinister thing that has come to us thus far in the administration" and "most depressing…When you think that many of the most grave policies of the country have been decided by the United States Supreme Court by a single vote, the possibility of Taft casting that vote makes your heart sink." Harding's choice of such an obvious conservative, The New Republic argued, was in fact a radical move. "The true conservative view is that the Supreme Court ought to be an embodiment of the clearest legal intelligence, altogether unmoved by political bias or class preconception," the journal noted, while progressives and radicals believed in a living, changing law. "[T]he very fact that everybody expects such a shift toward conservatism proves that the position of the Court itself has been shifted toward radicalism."14

To William Borah, it was less about the conservative than the cronyism. "It is almost sacrilegious," he told Oswald Villard, "to take a man who has dedicated his life to politics and who has at best only seven or eight years of service left and make him the head of that great tribunal." The Idaho Senator thought it tantamount to "prostituting" the Court, "as we are so many other things, to the mere call of expediency in politics." Villard told Borah he "felt like sitting down and telegraphing 'Hallelujah!" when Borah publicly voiced his opposition. In The Nation, Villard and the editors called the choice of the "intellectually indolent" Taft "a grave mistake." When changing times called for a dynamic thinker, the journal argued, Harding had chosen an amiable but calcified political hack. "It must not be forgotten that Mr. Taft's political views were passed upon by the American people in 1912, and that only two States voted for him. He was then, as now, opposed both to the progressive doctrines of the Wilson Democracy and to those of the Progressive Party."15

The respect merits of Chief Justice Taft aside, Warren Harding thought his job, as historian Robert K. Murray argues in The Politics of Normalcy, was "to bring the 'best minds' together" -- over a poker game or otherwise -- "moderate their discussions, and supply the conciliatory spirit that would adjust diverse points of view." In short, Murray argues, "Harding himself…was the central figure in his own cabinet, because he fused the independent talents, especially of his 'best minds' into a constructive political whole."16

And whatever the public thought of them years later, Harding's Cabinet choices -- with the notable exception of Harry Daugherty, the "best friend" that came along with the best minds -- were generally considered to be sound at the time. "No presidential cabinet during the past half-century," intoned The Atlantic Monthly, "has been better balanced, or has included within its membership a wider range of political experience." Writing in TNR in 1922, once the bloom had begun to come off the rose of many of Harding's choices, John W. Owens still recalled that "[e]verybody was happy when [Harding] announced his Cabinet and assumed office…The pictures of the Cabinet members looked like the pictures of the board of the First National Bank. They were familiar, conventional, understandable types, and withal confidence-sustaining."17

Harding may have surrounded himself with "the best minds," but he still never got over his initial feelings of self-doubt. "Oftentimes, as I sit here," he once said to a columnist, "I don't seem to grasp that I am President." To a golfing partner he confessed, "I don't think I'm big enough for the Presidency." Part of the problem, as Harding himself would be the first to confess, is that he wasn't a particularly bright man. "I don't know anything about this European stuff," Harding admitted to Arthur Draper of the New York Herald Tribune. He once told Bruce Bliven of the New Republic that "the United States should adopt a protective tariff of such a character as will help the struggling industries of Europe to get on their feet." H.L. Mencken, in his usual uncharitable fashion, thought that "[n]o other such complete and dreadful nitwit is to be found in the pages of American history."18

To compensate for his lack of innate ability, Harding put in long hours in the position. In 1922, veteran journalist Mark Sullivan deemed the president "extraordinary" in "the mere prosaic quality of capacity for hard work," and according to one historian, Harding "worked harder as president than either Wilson or Roosevelt and twice as hard as Taft." "I never find myself done," complained Harding a year into the job. "I never find myself with my work complete. I don't believe there is a human being alive who can do all the work there is to be done in the President's office. It seems as though I have been President for twenty years." When Senator Brandegee asked the president how he liked his job, Harding replied "Frank, it is Hell! No other word can describe it." He disliked the position so much that at one point he thought about supporting a constitutional amendment limiting presidents to one six-year term. His wife urged him to reconsider.19

Despite his formidable work habits, Harding is more remembered today for his extra-curricular activities. "Weekly White House poker parties were his greatest relaxation," wrote Hoover in his memoirs decades later, circumspectly sidestepping all the rumors about Nan Britton's attentions. "I had lived too long on the frontiers of the world to have strong emotions against people playing poker for money if they liked it, but it irked me to see it in the White House. Hughes and I found some excuse to remain out of the game. Some time afterward Harding remarked that I did not seem to like poker, and as I agreed, I was not troubled with more invitations."20

These notorious twice-weekly poker games gave the White House "the atmosphere [of the] back room in a speakeasy," thought Alice Roosevelt Longworth in a quote that would stick for generations. "No rumor could have exceeded the reality…the air heavy with tobacco smoke, trays with bottles containing every imaginable brand of whisky stood about…a general atmosphere of waistcoat unbuttoned, feet on the desk, and spittoons alongside." But other reports suggest these games were less dissolute than the popular imagination remembers. "The stakes were modest, since these men played purely for the sport of it," noted Edmund Starling, the same Secret Service man who had protected Wilson in his darkest months and would serve through Franklin Roosevelt. While the attendees "played with great zest and good humor, drank moderately and sociably, and smoked" until one a.m. in the morning, there was never "the slightest sign of debauch," and Harding himself never enjoyed more than one highball. Harding "suffered from stomach trouble," Starling recalled, "and was allergic to alcohol in any but small doses." Similarly, while much was made of Harding's twice-weekly golf outings, he actually spent less time on the green than had his predecessor, Woodrow Wilson (before the stroke.)21

Of course, there were rumors of darker assignations taking place at the "Love Nest," the Little House on H Street two blocks from the White House, where Harry Daugherty and his longtime friend, flunky, and bagman Jess Smith lived, and where the so-called "Ohio Gang" congregated. There, according to legend (and the later account of Gaston Means, a member of the Gang known for fabulism and later convicted of perjury), Harding would often drink to excess and carouse with several women not named Florence Kling Harding. When queried about these "woman scrapes," as Daugherty called them, or "bimbo eruptions," as a later generation would style them, Harding gave the same sort of shrug and non-denial with which he had earlier answered questions about his lineage. "It's a good thing I am not a woman," he told reporters at the National Press Club (in private), "I would always be pregnant. I can't say no."22

While "not a man with either the experience or the intellectual quality that the position needed," Hoover concluded of the president, he "had real quality in geniality, in good will, and in ability for pleasing address." And if nothing else, Harding had a keen sense of his own strengths and weaknesses, and he guided his presidency accordingly. He did not seek to be a Wilson or a Roosevelt. As he confided to a friend, "[f]rankly, being President is rather an unattractive business unless one relishes the exercise of power. That is a thing which has never greatly appealed to me." Rather he sought to be America's "best-loved" president. In the words of Frederick Lewis Allen in 1931, Harding "was the friendliest man who ever had entered the White House. He seemed to like everybody, he wanted to do favors for everybody, he wanted to make everybody happy. His affability was not merely the forced affability of the cold-blooded politician; it was transparently and touchingly genuine." After his untimely death, the Bishop presiding over his memorial service eulogized Harding by saying, "[i]f I could write one sentence upon his monument, it would be this, 'He taught us the power of brotherliness.'"23

As part of his efforts to be liked by everyone, Harding -- a former newspaperman himself -- opened the White House wide to members of the press. "Unquestionably Harding had the best relationship with the press of any president in history," Robert Murray wrote in 1969, with perhaps a modicum of hyperbole. "Reporters liked his frankness in confessing his limitations and his refreshing candor about presidential problems. The press was taken behind the scenes and shown the inner workings of the presidency to an extent never allowed before."24

As his first official act, Harding also opened the White House to anyone who wanted to stop by during the lunch hour and shake his hand. "I love to meet people," Harding once said. "It is the most pleasant thing I do; it is really the only fun I have. It does not tax me, and it seems to be a very great pleasure to them." As such, Harding would spend at least an hour a day welcoming the visitors, occasionally numbering in the thousands, who came by to visit. The president further tugged the heartstrings of America by acquiring, the day after his inauguration, an Airedale terrier named Laddie Boy. With his own chair for cabinet meetings, his own official portrait, and plenty of photo ops and fundraiser appearances, Laddie Boy was, for all intent and purposes, the first celebrity presidential pet in American history.25

However estimable, Harding's penchant for conviviality ultimately carried a heavy price. For one, his desire to be liked by everyone, coupled with his insecurities about his own acumen, led him to take an inordinately long time making decisions. "John, I can't make a damn thing out of this tax problem," William Allen White recalled Harding saying to one of his secretaries. "I listen to one side and they seem right, and then - God! - I talk to the other side and they seem just as right and here I am where I started…God! What a job!"26

For another, while perhaps a refuge from work at first, Secretary of State Hughes, in his 1923 eulogy of Harding, thought the president "literally wore himself out in the endeavor to be friendly":
It was pain to him to refuse a courtesy; personal convenience could never be considered if it was an obstacle to any act of grace. He dealt personally with a vast correspondence, not being content with the mere acknowledgments, but writing friendly letters with the touch of keen human interest. His generous receptivity multiplied the appeals. He sought relaxation in the intimate contacts of old friendships, and this led him even in his diversions often to give himself to an undue exertion instead of rest.27
Marveling at the large stack of trivial correspondence that the president was trying to make his way through, Nicholas Murray Butler urged Harding to start prioritizing better. "I suppose so," replied the president, "but I am not fit for this office and should never have been here."28

Harding's desire to trust, and the emphasis on loyalty that resulted, certainly weighed heavily on him, and definitely helped to kill his reputation in the years to come. "I have no trouble with my enemies," Harding told Will White. "I can take care of my enemies all right. But my damn friends…they're the ones keeping me walking the floor nights." Or worse. After the first of the Harding scandals broke, a visitor to the White House stumbled upon the president throttling one of the many ne'er-do-wells in his administration, Veteran's Bureau head Charles Forbes. "You yellow rat! You double-crossing bastard!," the president exclaimed before noticing they had a visitor. And in his final days just before his fatal August 1923 heart attack, Harding, according to White, "kept asking Secretary Hoover and the more trusted reporters who surrounded him what a President should do whose friends had betrayed him."29

The scandals came later. In the first few months of Harding's administration, however, the goodwill that emanated from the president seemed to envelop much of the weary nation. "The Washington atmosphere of today is like that of Old Home Week or a college class reunion," wrote Edward G. Lowry. "The change is amazing. The populace is on a broad grin." And it was in that environment that President Harding, a month after his inauguration, called a special session of Congress to lay out his normalcy agenda.30

"[A]mid conditions as difficult as our Government has ever contemplated," Harding argued in a well-received April 12, 1921 address, it was time for Congress to give "consideration to national problems far too pressing to be long neglected." First and foremost, Harding argued, it was time "to restrict our national expenditures within the limits of our national income and at the same time measurably lift the burdens of war taxation from the shoulders of the American people." In other words, it was time for austerity - "rigid resistance in appropriation and…utmost economy in administration. Let us have both." For the "high cost of living is inseparably linked with high cost of government," Harding argued. "There can be no complete correction of the high living cost until government's cost is notably reduced." Consolidating overlapping federal programs was also the order of the day, as was the creation of a Budget office in the executive branch to help ensure the size of the government continued to shrink.31

Coupled with this decreased government spending would be "the readjustment of internal taxes, and the revision or repeal of those taxes which have become so unproductive and are so artificial and burdensome as to defeat their own purpose." Lower tax rates, including a repeal of the excess profits tax and other "unjustifiable exasperations in the present system," Harding argued, were "a requisite to the revival of business activity in this country." Government should also recognize that "business has a right to pursue its normal, legitimate, and righteous way unimpeded," provided that they aid "in stamping out the practices which add to unrest and inspire restrictive legislation." In keeping with traditional Republican policy, Harding also called for a "mature revision of our tariff laws" to aid businesses and farmers, as well as investments to stimulate commerce and shore up transportation infrastructure.32

And, after leading with his business foot forward, the president concluded his speech with a few planks of the more progressive variety. In keeping with the promise made in his Social Justice speech, Harding called for the creation of a Department of Public Welfare "to encourage development of the highest and most efficient type of citizenship." He argued that "Congress ought to wipe the stain of barbaric lynching from the banners of a free and orderly representative democracy." He called for "effective regulation" at the federal level to oversee (and encourage) the new technologies of aviation and radio. He presumed the swift passage of the maternity bill. And, while "merest prudence forbids that we disarm alone," he argued his administration was "ready to cooperate with out nations to approximate disarmament."33

Finally, in a statement of pure Gamalielese that confused onlookers of every stripe, Harding made his post-election stand on the League. The president took care to explain that "the highest purpose of the League of Nations was defeated in linking it with a treaty of peace" and that no such association could ever be acceptable "so long as it is an organ of any particular treaty, or committed to the attainment of the special aims of any nation or group of nations." That being said, "we make no surrender of our hope and aim for an association to promote peace in which we would most heartily join…we pledged our efforts toward such association, and the pledge will faithfully be kept." First, however, Congress had to officially bring the World War to an end. "With the supergoverning league definitely rejected and with the world so informed, and with the status of peace proclaimed at home," Harding concluded, "we may…play our full part in joining the peoples of the world in the pursuits of peace once more." "Emphatically, Mr. Harding is closely related to Mr. Facing-Both-Ways," editorialized The Nation about this part of the address. "Both camps claim the president is with them, that the treaty will be eventually ratified in much amended form, that it will be discarded."34

As we shall see, not all of the suggestions made in Harding's April 1921 address came to pass in the two years of his presidency. Nonetheless, if taken as a statement of purpose, and evaluated only with regard to what actually passed rather than its ideological content, the contemporary view of Harding as a failure of a president seems overly harsh. Among the achievements of the Republican Congress in the summer of 1921 was an immigration restriction act (which Harding had called for in a prior speech), a resolution officially ending the war with Germany, and legislation creating the Budget Office -- soon to be headed by Charles G. Dawes -- and General Accounting Office. November 1921 saw passage of federal aid for highways, the Sheppard-Towner maternity bill, and the first of Mellon's tax-cutting revenue acts.

The following month, the first of the major disarmament conferences opened in Washington. In September 1922, the business-friendly Fordney-McCumber tariff - the highest tariff in American history to that point - would become law. The 67th Congress which would hold office for most of Harding's presidency would hold session for a record 415 days, pass six hundred bills and ninety resolutions. And, within four years of Harding's death, Congress would pass two more stringent Mellon revenue acts, as well as legislation regulating aviation and radio respectively. For better or worse, much of what Harding called for in his April 1921 speech, from his McKinley era fiscal policies to his few forays into progressivism, was eventually enacted into law.35

Continue to Chapter 5, Pt. 2: Organizing in Opposition.

Return to the Table of Contents.

1. Harold Ickes to William Allen White, April 5, 1922. HLI Box 41: William Allen White.
2. William Borah to George F. Milton, May 14, 1926. WJB Box 216: Political-Misc.
3. Ashby, 287-288.
4. The Week," New Republic, March 2, 1921 (Vol. XXVI, No. 326), 1.
5. "Harding at the Crossroads," The New Republic, January 12, 1921, 180-181. "The average American of 1950," TNR noted, "will not have the remotest idea what manner of man Lodge was, or Borah, or Newberry or Fall. But every American child, in 1950, will have been compelled to recite the name of Harding in the series of Presidents great and small." Ibid, 181.
6. "The Harding Cabinet," The New Republic, March 2, 1921 (Vol. 26, No. 326), 3-4. McCartney, 1-7, 53-55.
7. "The Harding Cabinet," 3-4.
8. Ibid.
9. Russell, 425, 433.
10. Russell, 425, 435. Hoover, 36. William Leuchtenburg, Herbert Hoover (New York: Times Books, 2009), 51.
11. Hoover, 36.
12. Dean, 79. Russell, 427, 438. Murray, The Politics of Normalcy, 28. Elihu Root later said that Harding "should have known that Daugherty wasn't fit to be Attorney General of the United States, but he hadn't the nerve to take a course which would appear to be deserting his friends." Daugherty apparently wanted the Attorney General position both to thumb his nose at the Ohio critics who thought him crooked, and, on the principle that it takes one to know one, to protect his friend the president. "I know Harding," Daugherty told Mark Sullivan, "and I know who the crooks are and I want to be between Harding and them." Russell, 507, 449.
13. Russell, 434-435.
14. Ickes to Johnson, July 1, 1921. HLI. Johnson to Ickes, July 2, 1921. HLI. Box 33: Hiram Johnson. "The Week," The New Republic, July 13th, 1921 (Vol. 27, No. 345), 177. Ashby, 31. To Ickes and Johnson, TNR's article was pure sophistry, if not a simple beat-sweetener. "It seemed to me the thing was particularly insidious in that it sought to create a pleasant impression of Taft without actually praising the appointment," said Ickes. "Certainly if The New Republic has any remnants of liberalism left it should have criticized this appointment instead of writing about it with honeyed words…It is rarely that I read a single issue of The New Republic without feeling disgusted and angry." Johnson, still fuming over the magazine's support of Hoover in 1920, thought TNR was "displaying a partiality these days for some things which are a stench in the nostrils of men who call themselves either radical, liberal, or progressive. Perhaps, however, there is no longer any such animal as a liberal or progressive." Ickes to Johnson, July 15th, 1921. HLI. Johnson to Ickes, July 13th, 1921. HLI Box 33: Hiram Johnson.
15. Borah to Villard, July 9, 1921. WJB, Box 99: Misc. Villard to Borah, July 8, 1921. WJB, Box 99: Misc. "The Chief Justice - A Mistaken Appointment," The Nation, July 13th, 1921, (Vol. 113, No. 2923), 32. For the Chief Justice, the feeling was mutual. Taft thought Borah was "the most unstable man" he had ever met, and George Norris one of those "gentlemen of communistic and socialist tendencies who are opposed to any enforcement of the law at all." "I always have Borah, Norris, La Follette, and Johnson against anything I wish - for my sins I suppose." Ashby, 33-34. One former Roosevelt progressive more sanguine about the Taft pick was William Allen White. "I feel that the question of international disarmament is the biggest question before mankind today," he told Borah. "I was even glad enough to see old Taft on the Supreme Court, to get a man there who had a decent idea of the magnitude of the peace problem." William Allen White to Borah, July 2, 1921. WJB, Box 98: Misc.
16. Robert K. Murray, The Politics of Normalcy: Governmental Theory and Practice in the Harding-Coolidge Era (New York: W.W. Norton, 1973), 23, 34.
17. Russell, 443. Dean, 94. John W. Owens, "The Great Cabinet," The New Republic, November 8, 1922, 272-273.
18. Alan Brinkley, American History (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007), 662. Russell, 452. Miller, New World Coming, 83.
19. Murray, The Politics of Normalcy, 21. Dean, 137-138. Russell, 485-486.
20. Hoover, 48.
21. Russell, 448. Hoover, 48. Dean, 165. Russell, 444-445.
22. McCartney, 62-63. Carl Sferrazza Anthony, "A President of the Peephole," The Washington Post, June 7, 1998. Lucy Moore, Anything Goes: A Biography of the Roaring Twenties (New York: Overlook Press, 2010).
23. Hoover, 48. Russell, 468. Frederick Lewis Allen, Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920's (New York: Harper Collins, 2000). 109, 116.
24. Robert K. Murray, The Harding Era: Warren Harding and his Administration (Chicago: University of Minnesota Press, 1969), 114. Dean, 99.
25. Russell, 436-438. Diane Tedeschi, "The White House's First Celebrity Dog," Smithsonian Magazine, January 22, 2009. As it happened, Laddie Boy - who died in 1929 - managed to outlive both the president and the First Lady.
26. Allen, 109-110.
27. Dean, 169.
28. Russell, 453.
29. Dean, 141. Miller. 105. Smith, 188. Allen, 118.
30. Allen, 109.
31. Warren G. Harding, "Address delivered at a Joint Session of the Two Houses of Congress," April 12, 1921, 3-4 6.
32. Harding, 5-6.
33. Harding, 10-13.
34. Harding, 15-16. The Nation, April 27, 1921 (Vol. CXII, No. 2912), 607. The Nation reported on reliable authority that one reason Harding's League position sounded so confused was because Hoover and Hughes had convinced the president late in the game not to reject the League outright. In the other direction, an earlier draft had included the line "We stand ready, if need be to initiate, an association of nations - until Florence Harding and others encouraged the president to drop it." Kurt Wimer and Sarah Wimer, "The Harding Administration, the League of Nations, and the Separate Peace Treaty," The Review of Politics, January 1967 (Vol. 29, No. 1), 15.
35. "Harding's Fiscal Policy,"The New Republic, April 27, 1921, 254. Lowitt, 140.

[Download Uphill all the Way: The Fortunes of Progressivism, 1919-1929 as a PDF.]

Main Page/Family/Links/Gallery/Biography/Soapbox/Resume/Writings/Weblog

If you found this dissertation useful or entertaining, please consider contributing to the tip fund.
Alas, history isn't the wildly remunerative discipline it used to be.