Warren G. Harding


What other scandals beset the Harding administration?

Harding had named Charles R. Forbes as director of the War Insurance Risk Board, which became the Veterans Bureau. Forbes had a distinguished war record and was a friend of both President Harding and his wife, Florence. However, Forbes engaged in corruption by embezzling money from contractors, giving them low-priced bids for building veteran hospitals. He was convicted in 1925 and served more than a year in prison. Charles F. Cramer, legal advisor for the Veterans Bureau, committed suicide.

Another scandal involved Harry M. Daugherty, Harding’s attorney general. Daugherty allegedly accepted bribes from bootleggers. He resigned from his position in 1924 (when Coolidge was president). He was never charged with a crime for this allegation. However, he did face other criminal charges for bribes. Two juries deadlocked and he never was convicted of anything. It is interesting that Daugherty’s assistant, Jess Smith, destroyed his personal papers and committed suicide shortly after Harding asked for his resignation.

It was perhaps because of these so-called “friends”—sometimes loosely referred to as the “Ohio Gang”—that Harding lamented: “My God, this is a hell of a job. I have no trouble with my enemies…. But my damn friends, they’re the ones that keep me walking the floor at night.”


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