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Sale 18

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Lot 1278

Harding, Warren G (1865-1923) 29th President of the United States, 1921-1923. Rare Autograph Letter Signed "W G Harding" as a candidate for lieutenant governor of Ohio, 3 pp, Marion, Ohio, October 19, 1903. Written on the letterhead of The Marion Star, the newspaper Harding owned, to "My Dear Widenthall." Boldly penned and signed in dark brown ink, this letter bears witness to Harding's seldom-seen sense of humor. Fine except for minor soiling

"I see very clearly you are still for Herrick & Niles. I have just read your Hiawatha story in the Press, and I will lose the whole brass band vote of Ohio. It was bad enough to lose my wager, through your conspiracy with Dover, but it is adding to injury to put me bad with all the bands in Ohio, playing Hiawatha for a favorite. Worse still, my musical taste is libeled, for I love Hiawatha, love it at breakfast time, am cheered by it when lunching, have better digestion at dinner when I hear its strains, and I love to lapse into dreams with Hiawatha floating in the ethereal night. And still worse, you ill repay me for my considerate yielding to your orders. I have kept that Hebrew story in cold storage to date, but henceforth I shall flaunt it and defy you. I am enclosing 10 cents. When the moral atmosphere of the car admits, please inveigle Dover in a 'matching' game. He will yield if you are persistent. Send me the 10 cents back and $3.30 of your winnings, and keep the other $9.70 which you won. I merely suggest this to kill you with kindness….your punishment will come. 'Harding hates Hiawatha!' Was ever libel so marked? Was ever a campaign lie cloaked in such innocent garb? Yours in grief / W G Harding."

Harding did go on to win the election, but at the end of his term as lieutenant governor, he returned to his newspaper career until 1909, when he gained the Republican nomination for governor, but lost the election. In 1915, he won election as U.S. senator from Ohio and in 1920, he received the Republican nomination for President. His election was largely a repudiation of Wilson's international policies. The gambling mentioned in this letter foreshadows the poker games which took place at the White House, attended by many of Harding's dubious friends who would later be implicated in the scandals which rocked his administration, the most famous being the Teapot Dome scandal. Harding died in office in August 1923, perhaps mercifully so, because more corruption by his friends was uncovered, sending several of them to jail.
Estimated Value $3,500 - 4,500.


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