On July 29th the Library of Congress is set to release some some exceedingly steamy reading matter, a collection of over a thousand lurid love letters and poems from Warren G. Harding to his mistress of many years, Mrs. Carrie Fulton Phillips. In fact, The New York Times has already begun releasing the letters, and not surprisingly they are going viral on the internet.
Harding began the affair with Mrs. Phillips, his next door neighbor, in 1905 while he was an Ohio newspaper editor, and broke it off (ouch!) in 1920 while serving as a United States Senator and preparing to run for the presidency. At the time of their breakup, Harding asked Mrs. Phillips to burn the letters - telling her that it would be okay to keep one as a souvenir of their relationship. Mrs. Phillips kept them all, and later blackmailed the politician. She requested $25,000 and a "small stipend" to maintain her silence. The Republican National Committee, being as noble and pious then as it is today, stepped in and provided cash to help meet the demands.
Warren G. Harding died a little over two years after becoming President, and at the time of his death his administration was mired in several scandals due to his cronyism and ineffectual leadership - the most notable of which was "Teapot Dome," a big bit of chicanery involving oil leases on government lands in Wyoming. By historical standards, "Teapot Dome," ranks right up there with "Watergate," another shameful result of Republican governance. Harding's administration is considered by many historians to be one of the very worst in U.S. history, ranking right down there with the presidencies of Ulysses S. Grant and George W. Bush.
President Harding had been dead for almost four full decades by the time that Mrs. Phillips went to her glory in 1960. The dead woman's attorney, while rifling through her things, came across the box of love letters. An attempt was made to get them published at that time, but in 1964 the Harding family was able to transfer the correspondence to the Library of Congress with the proviso that it not be released for public scrutiny and salivation for fifty years.
Time is up, and the dirty laundry is tumbling out of the hamper!
While Warren G. Harding may have been a failure as a President, he was one hot writer. Consider, for instance, this bit of purple prose:
"I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing breasts. Wouldn't you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in the morning communion at Richmond?"
(If Bush could only paint that well!)
One peculiarity in the Harding love correspondence is that he refers to his male member in the third person as "Jerry," and boy did Warren and Jerry ever have the adventures! (Mrs. Phillips was just one of several women who shared Harding's - and Jerry's - affections!)
Instead of scouring the internet searching for these raunchy relics from another era, I think I may just wait until Library of America comes out with its boxed set. I'll have to read it because the movie version would probably kill me!