The Redemption of Warren J. Harding

As young Democrats and leftists at Princeton have suddenly discovered the horrendous racism of Woodrow Wilson, Powerline advocates that historians finally rediscover that President Warren J. Harding, crusading newspaper editor, was also a crusader for civil rights while in the White House.

Harding was trying hard to repair the segregation imposed by Wilson on previously equal opportunity federal programs, and to hire black people and minorities as civil servants to replace those fired by Wilson without any cause besides skin color. His early death and his family’s Victorian concern with privacy made it easy for Democrats to smear his character and sweep his achievements under the rug.

My father points out that, as they did with Lincoln and even with Hoover, the Democrats spread rumors that Harding was for civil rights because he was a man of black ancestry passing as white. The major difference was that apparently some Ohioans felt there was substance to this rumor, but didn’t care either way.

From Harding’s speech at Birmingham, Alabama, on October 27, 1921, in front of a hostile audience:

“I want to see the time come when black men will regard themselves as full participants in the benefits and duties of American citizens. We cannot go on, as we have gone on for more than half a century, with one great section of our population . . . set off from real contribution to solving national issues, because of a division on race lines.”

From his book Nationalism and Americanism, 1920:

“It would be a sorry day for this republic if we allowed our activities in seeking for peace in the Old World to blind us to the essentials of peace at home. We want a free America again. We want America free at home, and free in the world. We want to silence the outcry of nation against nation, in the fullness of understanding, and we wish to silence the cry of class against class, and stifle the party appeal to class, so that we may ensure tranquility in our own freedom.

“If I could choose but one, I had rather have industrial and social peace at home, than command the international peace of all the world.”

And Martin Luther King was a Republican. Pass it on.

UPDATE: Wilson advocated that schools drop American history and civics and start teaching “social studies” – in order to teach leftism and collectivism with federal funds.


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