Monday, September 24, 2012

"The President's Daughter" Details '20s Scandal

Before the Gov. Terminator-maid scandal, there was the equally infamous and Republican senator/president Warren G. Harding and the secretary/poet Nan Britton, a small town girl who soon learned the ways of men during a six-year affair. 
Not a pretty story it is either as documented in her 1927 book, “The President’s Daughter” with photos of their love child Elizabeth Ann who was born in 1919 to Britton who assumed the name “Mrs. Edmund Christian,” although the whereabouts of the fictitious Mr. Christian were unknown.  What follows is Ms. Britton’s account of events, which the Harding family claimed were hard to prove:
Their affair was awash in sloppy endearments where the Prez was called “sweetheart” and Nan was “dearie” which I find amusing.
Harding floated several schemes to distance himself from ensuing events including his suggestion of an abortion, shuffling the little bundle of joy off to the Catholic Home and finally a palatable solution, providing about $400 a month to Nan’s sister and brother in law enabling  them to adopt little Elizabeth.  Nan was not without her resources and hired an attorney to make sure that the adoption papers named her as the child’s legal guardian.
The book is poorly organized so there is no summary of exactly what Nan got financially out of her sweetheart but apparently she faired well.  An unknown man delivered $800 in cash to her and on another occasion she received three $500 bills which wasn’t chump change in the early 1900s.  Nevertheless, she was strapped for cash.
Harding got Nan jobs as a secretary at U.S. Steel, the GOP during the convention where he was nominated president and at a university where she later enrolled as a student.  Also, she  traveled to Europe in the 1920s and it’s safe to assume that Harding gave her money for that because he feared exposure although he said he was in debt $50,000 at the time.  Harding told Nan that after Mrs. Harding, who was sickly,  died he would adopt little Elizabeth although he never said anything about marrying Nan.
Britton also makes reference to gossip circulating about Harding’s affair with Mrs. Arnold and readers would be well advised to get “Florence Harding” by Carl S. Anthony to learn more about the amorous president’s further adventures.  Ms. Britton wasn’t the only one left with a love child by Harding.
Nan was advised and helped by Tim Slade who was Secret Service and driver to the President, so obviously he could substantiate her story.  After Harding’s passing from a “broken heart,” Slade suggested that Nan petition the Harding family to establish a $50,000 trust fund for Elizabeth Ann but she was denied any claims to the Harding estate.
In her closing remarks, Britton quotes from Harding’s book, “Our Common Country”:  “It will not be the America we love that neglects the American mother and the American child.”   Harding did his bit to promote motherhood.

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