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Warren G. Harding Event Timeline

March 04, 1921

Warren G. Harding (29) Event Timeline

03/04/1921 – 08/02/1923


Republican National Convention begins; and adopts its platform. Harding wins the nomination on the 10th ballot on 06/12/1920.


Address Accepting the Republican Presidential Nomination. States 16 “beliefs” including “I believe the Negro citizens of America should be guaranteed the enjoyment of all their rights. . . “ Shortly thereafter, launches a "front-porch" campaign, the last in modern politics. 


Election Day. Harding wins 76.1% of the Electoral College and 60.3% of the popular vote.




Inaugural Address.


By Proclamation convenes a special session of Congress starting 04/11/1921.


Address to a Joint Session on Urgent National Problems. Among other topics, urges adoption of revised tariffs “based on the policy of protection,” and modernizing of transportation systems.


Remarks at the unveiling of a statue in New York’s Central park to honor Simon Bolivar. Of the “spirit” of the United States toward Latin America, says “No selfishness impels, no greed is urging, no envy incites, no hatred is actuating.”


The Senate ratifies the Thompson-Urrutia Treaty which had been signed on April 6, 1914, “for the settlement of their differences arising out of the events which took place on the Isthmus of Panama in November 1903.” It included language interpreted to be an apology for the seizure of Panama by T. Roosevelt.  Originally submitted to the Senate on June 16, 1914. The final ratified version excluded the expression of regret about TR. The treaty was ratified by the Colombian Congress on 12/22/1921; then the exchange of ratifications took place on March 1, 1922.  (A 1930 scholarly article on ratification can be downloaded as a pdf HERE).


Signs the Emergency Quota Act (42 stat 5). In this temporary act, immigration was limited to 3 percent of the total number of foreign-born people from a particular country as recorded in the 1910 census. This was nearly identical to a bill pocket-vetoed by Wilson in February 1921. A permanent act was passed in 1924 (See Coolidge 05/26/1924).


Remarks on welcoming Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie to the White House. Presents her a gram of radium for the support of her research as a gift from the American people.


Remarks to the Academy of Political Science, New York City.  Praises the budget reforms underway following Taft’s Commission on Economy and Efficiency and the “sound methods” involved.


Signs Emergency Tariff Act (42 Stat 9) to protect American farmers. Preceded in 1913 by the Underwood-Simmons Tariff (which lowered tariffs), and followed in 1922 by the Fordney-McCumber Tariff which raised them.


Memorial Day Address at Arlington Cemetery. Those buried there after the Civil War “did not enter upon the war among the States with primary purpose the end the institution of human slavery. . . . They first sought to maintain the Union, to keep it a power for the advancement of America and humanity. . . “


By Executive Order 3474, pursuant to legislation from 1920, transfers jurisdiction of naval oil reserves to the Interior Department.


Greenwood Massacre. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a 19-year-old Black man was arrested on the charge of assaulting a white woman. The next day, white rioters attacked the Black community of Greenwood, killing dozens and destroying the most prosperous Black community in the U.S. [Link to collection of documents on the massacre.]


James Weldon Johnson, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People telegrams Harding asking for “an utterance. . .on the violence and reign of terror at Tulsa. . . “ (New York Times, 06/04/1921). The US Attorney General orders an investigation as to whether the disorders violated Federal law.


In Remarks at Lincoln University, Harding characterized the Tulsa riots as an “unhappy and distressing spectacle.” “No Government can wave a magical wand and take a race from bondage to citizenship in half a century.”


Signs the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 which creates the “executive budget” transmitted by the President, who is assisted by a new Bureau of the Budget within the Treasury Department (42 Stat 20). The law also creates a new General Accounting Office “independent of the executive department and under the direction and control of the Comptroller General.” The Comptroller General is appointed by the President to a 15-year term with advice and consent of the Senate.


Nominates former President William Howard Taft to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Taft is confirmed by Senate on the same day. Taft is the only former president to be named to the Court. (Link to image of original nomination document.)


Signs the Knox-Porter Resolution, (42 Stat 105) declaring an end to the state of war with the Imperial German Government and the Austro-Hungarian Government—officially ending World War I.


In an Address to the Senate, urges the rejection of a bill to adjust compensation for World War I veterans, as “the enactment of the compensation bill in the midst of the struggle for readjustment and restoration would hinder every effort and greatly imperil the financial stability of our country.”


Invites representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan to attend a conference on the Limitation of Armaments. Henceforth this is called “The Washington Conference.”


U.S.-German “Treaty Restoring Friendly Relations” signed formally ending the War and securing US rights specified under Congressional Resolution of 07/02/1921 (above).  The treaty was ratified by the Senate on 10/18/1921.


In response to the "Battle of Blair Mountain," issues Proclamation demanding armed coal miners and operators protesting in West Virginia return home peaceably by noon 09/01/1921. A violent conflict had escalated following the killing of two local law enforcement officers by detectives hired by the coal company. At least 6000 miners fought with 3000 coal company detectives.

09/02/1921 In response to a request from the West Virginia Governor, Federal troops are ordered to West Virginia to restore order. The official militia forces are reported to attack the miners with machine guns and bombs dropped from an airplane. (New York Times, 09/03/1921, p1). The President is reported to be leaving with a party of friends for weekend cruise on the yacht Mayflower. The conflict was largely ended by Federal Troops on 09/03/1921.


Addresses the Conference on Unemployment called by Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover. “I would have little enthusiasm for any proposed relief which seeks either palliation or tonic from the public treasury.”


Signs proclamation to establish Armistice Day. This observance comes to be known as “Veterans Day.”


Personally intervenes to organize a conference between the Railroad Labor Board and the Interstate Commerce Commission to see “adjustments” that could avert a threatened nationwide railroad strike on 10/30/1921. The strike is averted on 10/27/1921 when the Unions accept policy changes by the Railroad Labor Board.


Address on the issue of Race in Birmingham, Al.  Calls for political equality and equal educational opportunity but advocates “recognition of the absolute divergence on things social and racial.” “Racial amalgamation there cannot be.” Senator James Thomas Heflin of Alabama was quoted in the Baltimore Sun saying “As far as the South is concerned, we hold to the doctrine that God Almighty has fixed the limits and boundary lines between the two races and no Republican living can improve upon His handiwork.”


Signs the Snyder Act, funding Indian health care (“the relief of distress and conservation of health”). (42 Stat 208) The act also gave spending authority to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and authorized the employment of Indian judges in Courts of Indian Offenses.


By Executive Order defines a standard practice for dating Executive Orders and Proclamations to include the phrase “in the year of our Lord.”


Delivers Address at the burial of an unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.


Address opens Washington Conference on Disarmament. “Our hundred millions frankly want less of armament and none of war.” The conference agreements will be known as the “Washington Naval Treaty” (see 02/06/1922).


Signs the Sheppard-Towner Maternity and Infancy Act (42 Stat 224), which grants matching federal funds to states to establish and operate prenatal and child health care centers. The legislation had been introduced in 1918 by Montana Representative Jeanette Rankin. Although this legislation proves to be temporary, it regarded as a vital part of developing social programs in the United States. (More background on the Sheppard-Towner Act is here.)


First Annual Message. Urges permanent tariff revisions, and calls for tariffs to allow “more flexibility and elasticity” suggesting this might be entrusted to the Tariff Commission. He further suggests “giving authority to the Chief Executive, who could proclaim additional duties to meet conditions which the Congress may designate.” Also calls for encouraging a “cooperative marketing program.”




Signs Executive Order 3623 authorizing up to $4 million in funding for the relief of the “distressed and famine-stricken people of Russia.”


Address Closing the Washington Conference. “Those of us who live another decade are more likely to witness a growth of public opinion, strengthened by the new experience, which will make nations more concerned with living to the fulfilment of God’s high intent than with agencies of warfare and destruction.”


Washington Naval Treaty, also known as the Five-Power Treaty, signed by the USA, Britain, France, Italy and Japan with the goal of limiting naval armaments. The treaty will end if any signatory gives notice of its intent to “denounce” the treaty by 12/31/1934,


Address to the Senate Presenting the Treaties negotiated by the Washington Naval Conference.


Signs Capper-Volstead Act (42 Stat 388), also known as the Cooperative Marketing Act. This gives farm cooperatives limited exemption from anti-trust liability.


U.S. Supreme Court deems Nineteenth Amendment constitutional in Leser v. Garnett, further solidifying women’s suffrage.


Address to Congress on Assistance to the Merchant Marine. Proposes the creation of a “merchant marine fund” to develop and maintain the merchant marine.


Special Message to Congress on planning for the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.


Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall secretly leases federal oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, to Harry F. Sinclair of the Mammoth Oil Company. Fall is eventually convicted of taking a $100,000 bribe. This crime, known as the Teapot Dome Scandal was considered the most significant scandal in U.S. politics before Watergate. In reaction, there are a variety of reforms, including the expansion of federal campaign finance disclosure requirements.


The Wall Street Journal breaks the story of the Teapot Dome lease for federal oil reserves without competitive bidding.


Senator La Follett of Wisconsin, introduces a Resolution (S Res 282) on 04/21/1922, calling for investigation of lease agreement for Elk Hills reserve. It is adopted by the Senate 58-0 with 38 not voting. (See Congressional Record April 29, 1922, p. 6096 ff; pdf of Cong Record.) The investigation was assigned to the Committee on Public Lands and was led by the most junior minority member, Senator Thomas Walsh.


Signs Narcotic Drugs Import and Export Act (42 Stat 596) creating the Federal Narcotics Control Board with power to authorize imports of narcotics for medical or other legitimate purposes. Administration is vested in the Treasury.


Delivers address at the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The event draws a huge crowd and is broadcast by radio.


Delivers an address to Congress regarding widespread railroad and coal strikes.


Vetoes the Soldiers’ Bonus Bill, arguing that adjusted compensation for World War I veterans is less of a priority than is ameliorating the nation’s debt. On 09/20/1922, the veto is overridden in the House but sustained in the Senate.


Signs Fordney-McCumber Tariff Act (42 Stat 858). At a signing ceremony, Harding stated that “if we succeed in making effective the elastic provisions of the measure it will be the greatest contribution to tariff making in the nation’s history.” (See request in Annual Address above). This also contributed to the growth of executive power. (Quote is from New York Times 09/22/1922 p.1.)


Signs Cable Act, (42 Stat 1021) which allows American women to retain citizenship after marrying a non-citizen. However, this right does not extend to women who marry “aliens ineligible for citizenship,” particularly Asian immigrant men.


Filling a vacancy caused by the death of Senator Thomas E. Watson, Rebecca L. Felton is appointed by Georgia Governor Thomas Hardwick. The appointment is largely symbolic since Congress would not be in session. Felton had been active for many years in Georgia politics, campaigned for women’s suffrage, and defended Southern racial politics.


Midterm Elections. In the Senate, Republicans lost 6 seats but still had a 55% majority. In the House, the Republicans lost 77 seats but still had a 52% majority.


Second Annual Message.




Interior Secretary Albert Fall announces his resignation effective March 4, 1922.


Vetoes bill granting pensions to certain soldiers, sailors, and marines of the Civil War. The veto was unchallenged.


Directs, through a military order to Maj. General Henry Allen, to immediately begin to return troops to the United States from Germany. The decision followed a White House meeting between the President and the Secretaries of War and State. See notification of allies here.


In Special Message to the Senate, urges adherence to the Permanent Court of International Justice at the Hague, which is established to address international causes by judicial methods.


Supplemental contract with Mammoth Co., also without competitive bidding, (see 04/07/1922) to build navy fuel oil storage tanks at Atlantic coast; to fill tanks with fuel oil; with payment in navy royalty oil.


Albert Fall resigns as Secretary of Interior.


The President’s planning for a transcontinental trip ending in Alaska became publicly known. It was criticized as being, in effect, a campaign tour. (New York Times, 04/11/1923, p1) The White House asserts the tour is non-partisan.


New York legislature passes a bill repealing the “Mullan Gage State Liquor Enforcement” law, an attempt to attack prohibition by refusing to enforce the law, and a practical response to the volume of alcohol cases burdening court dockets.


Delivers an Address at the unveiling of an Alexander Hamilton statue in Washington, D.C.


Letter to Judge E. H. Gary supports the abolition of the 12-hour day in the steel industry.


By Executive Order, allows the Secretary of the Navy to enforce the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. Virgin Islands.


Harding starts a transcontinental tour, which was called the “Voyage of Understanding.” He gives addresses in St. Louis, Kansas City, Hutchinson (Kansas), Denver, Salt Lake City, Idaho Falls, Helena, and Meacham (Oregon), with many informal comments at stops along the way. Along the way, he explores national parks, drives a train locomotive, and takes part in an “Oregon Trail” pageant.


Departs Tacoma, Washington for Alaska aboard a naval ship.


First President to visit the territory of Alaska; his visit includes Wrangell, Juneau, Seward, and Fairbanks (with a stop at McKinley National Park).


Participates in a ceremony marking the completion of the railroad from Seward to Fairbanks by driving a gold spike into a railroad tie.

07/18/1923 – 07/26/1923

Onboard ship, Harding is reported to be working on upcoming speeches. He planned to address a large crowd in San Francisco.


While traveling south by railroad, Harding is reported to be suffering from ptomaine poison. The illness is attributed to eating crabs or canned goods. In the coming days the symptoms will also suggest pneumonia and an enlarged heart.


While in a San Francisco hotel, dies of heart failure. Vice President Calvin Coolidge becomes President. Florence Harding, the President's wife declines to request an autopsy, which allows scope for speculation about the cause of death.

Last edited 07/25/2023.

Warren G. Harding, Warren G. Harding Event Timeline Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/356247

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