Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding's Scandalous Legacy

Dead Last: The Public Memory of Warren G. Harding's Scandalous Legacy

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by Phillip G. Payne
     
 

ISBN-10: 082141819X

ISBN-13: 9780821418192

Pub. Date: 02/10/2009

Publisher: Ohio University Press

2009 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the saints in America’s civil religion, then the twenty-ninth president, Warren G. Harding, is our sinner. Prior to the Nixon administration, the Harding scandals were the most infamous of the twentieth century. Harding is consistently judged a failure, ranking dead last

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Overview

2009 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title

If George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are the saints in America’s civil religion, then the twenty-ninth president, Warren G. Harding, is our sinner. Prior to the Nixon administration, the Harding scandals were the most infamous of the twentieth century. Harding is consistently judged a failure, ranking dead last among his peers.

By examining the public memory of Harding, Phillip G. Payne offers the first significant reinterpretation of his presidency in a generation. Rather than repeating the old stories, Payne examines the contexts and continued meaning of the Harding scandals for various constituencies. Payne explores such topics as Harding’s importance as a midwestern small-town booster, his rumored black ancestry, the role of various biographers in shaping his early image, the tension between public memory and academic history, and, finally, his status as an icon of presidential failure in contemporary political debates. Harding was a popular president and was widely mourned when he died in office in 1923; but with his death began the construction of his public memory and his fall from political grace.

In Dead Last, Payne explores how Harding’s name became synonymous with corruption, cronyism, and incompetence and how it is used to this day as an example of what a president should not be.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780821418192
Publisher:
Ohio University Press
Publication date:
02/10/2009
Edition description:
1
Pages:
296
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

1 Questions Asked 1

2 The President's Hometown 20

3 Commemorating the Tragedy of Warren Harding 48

4 My Damned Biographers 70

5 The Shadow of William Estabrook Chancellor 95

6 He-Harlot 126

7 Harding Alley 155

8 Dead Last 192

Notes 225

Bibliography 257

Index 263

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