Warren G. Harding doesn’t have the most memorable reputation in American presidential history, but that could all change now that his steamy love letters to his mistress will be released on July 29th. But Harding’s grandnephew hopes his uncle’s sexcapades don’t override the historical significance found in the letters.
“I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips,” wrote Warren G. Harding to his mistress Carrie Phillips.
And there was this: “…so I got up, had a luxurious bath and donned my bathrobe in which to breakfast. Three weeks ago [the robe] touched and covered your beautiful form, and that made it hallowed to me, and I wanted contact with it, to make me seem nearer to you.”
Is it us or is it getting hot in here?
The love affair between Harding and Phillips began on an ocean liner in 1905 while both were in unhappy marriages. Starting in 1910 through to 1920, Harding penned almost 1,000 pages of intimate, soul-searching, and sometimes lustful revelations to Phillips. At the time Harding served as Ohio lieutenant governor and later a U.S. Senator. A year after the affair ended, he’d become the 29th president of the United States but fall victim to a heart attack just a few years into his first term.
Historically, Harding has been seen as an intelligent man but passive leader who essentially produced an empty legacy. But his grandnephew, Richard Harding, hopes historians will be able to show the world a deeper, more thoughtful side to the man upon closer examination of his letters.
“It’s our hope and your responsibility not to be distracted by the sexually explicit prose that fills parts of these letters, but instead to use all the information in them to reassess the measure of the man,” Richard Harding recently told an audience full of historians. “Warren Harding doesn’t need protection. He needs honest, hard-working and fair historians to tell us the story as they see it.”