Sunday, September 12, 2010

I need an historian. Do such still exist?

In a world where facts are considered irrelevant and realIty whatever you choose to make of it in order to support a political/religious/money-making scheme, maybe not, but just in case...

I was doing some research today and, in an article about 1923, I read that Warren Harding, in order to escape the pressures of the Teapot Dome Scandal, fled Washington for Alaska. that was followed by this sentence....

On his way back, Harding stopped in San Francisco,where he fell ill and died on August 2, 1923.

Nearly 90 years ago, the President of the United States chose to return to Washington DC from Alaska by way of San Francisco.


Can someone clarify how this would be the case? That's seems to be a helluva long and time-consuming trip way back then.

What am I missing here?


  1. How was he traveling? If by plane, a plane of that era would need to make multiple stops to fly from Alaska (even Juneau) to DC. Coming down the west coast (stops in Seattle and then SF) before heading east would make sense.

    If by train, again, a trip down the west coast, then east from SF is the logical route.

    And if he sailed from Juneau (a common route in that period), SF is the likely port of call, followed by a train trip east.

  2. While I may not be a historian yet, I am a historian in training.

    It seems as though Harding was finishing up his "Voyage of Understanding." (How's that for propaganda?) It was a cross country trip, during which he hoped to regain supporters.

    After taking a ship from Washington state to Alaska and back, he continued his speaking tour with a stop in Seattle. During which, his ailing health was evident; in a speech he referred to Alaska as Nebraska. While the tour continued, he agreed to stop making speeches.

    Upon arriving in San Francisco, Harding claimed to feel better. Yet, those in his party believed him to look seriously ill. After four days in San Francisco, he began making plans to return to the White House within the week. Later that evening, he died while his wife read him a flattering article about himself in "Saturday Evening Post."

    So it seems as though San Francisco was simply a stop on the speaking tour. Harding and his wife had always wanted to visit the Western states, and had previously canceled their plans several times. Sorry there aren't footnotes...

  3. Thanks Pat and Gina. I thought to myself after I posted this that I could just go and do some research, but it was Sunday and all..

    I appreciate both your efforts and especially all of Gina's detail (the Saturday Evening Post bit alone was priceless). Rob Davis also sent, for some reason, to my email rather than posting here this....

    >Shaken by the talk of corruption among the friends he had appointed to office, Harding and his wife, Florence "Flossie" Harding, organized a tour of the western states and Alaska in an attempt to meet people and explain his policies.** After becoming ill with what was at the time attributed to ptomaine (food) poisoning, Harding had a heart attack and died quietly in his sleep. The rumors flew that Flossie had poisoned the President to save him from being engulfed in the charges of corruption that swept his administration. The Hardings never had any children; Flossie died of kidney disease in 1924.<

    The link for that is here.

  4. Always fun to do some historical research unrelated to what I really should be spending my time researching! :)