Warren Harding’s extramarital affair
It was in 1963 when a box of previously undisclosed love letters turned up on a lawyer’s kitchen table. The letters exhibited the extramarital love affair between Warren Harding, who would become the 29th President of the United States, and Carrie Phillips, a staunch, pro-German spy suspect. Spanning the years 1905 to 1920, the approximately 900 saved pages of letters detail Warren Harding’s strong emotional attachment and feelings for Carrie Phillips.
This book, The Harding Affair, is definitely a uniquely interesting historical look at the personal and intimate adulterous affair of a former President of the United States. The cards are a self-portrait of Warren Harding; it pours out his deep feelings, his love and his passion for Carrie Phillips.
Through the author’s meticulous analysis and documentation of the evidence within the letters, the author effectively weaves together his political historical knowledge of the world situation related to the world war and extramarital affair, thus adding a new dimension to the knowledge base. surrounding the life of Warren Harding and his relationship with Carrie Phillips.
Warren Harding and Carrie Philips’ romantic relationship began in 1905. They were both married, the two families lived nearby in the same Ohio town, and the two families were friends with each other. Over the years, the couples took several vacation trips together, one of them being a two-month trip to Europe in 1909.
The letters reveal an extremely passionate Harding:
* You are as beautiful physically as you are noble in character.
*It was great to start the day with glorious kisses and caresses… it aches with insatiable longing until I feel like there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild swallow on your lips and then bury my face in your padded breasts .
*Dear: There are no words… enough to express the full extent of my love for you…
*…no one ever wrote a page more inflamed with love…There is no limit to the love and ardor you are capable of inspiring.
*You are the dearest goddess to love and worship that has ever been or can be…
It seems likely that the most emotionally romantic and memorable sexual experience for Harding took place in Montreal as the old year, 1911, passed and the New Year dawned. A year later, Harding made reference to his emotional and devious feelings when he described “the climax of his sexual act”. He referred to that experience of love several times over the years. ‘”… at the beginning of the New Year, when the bells tolled the chorus as our hearts sang in wordless ecstasy and we greeted the New Year from the holy heights of heaven… Fate times that wondrous coincidence… I I consider one of the best remembered moments of my existence”.
Over the years, Harding’s personal life and his romantic relationship with Carrie became increasingly complicated and strained as Harding became more involved in politics, becoming an elected senator and then president of the United States. ., at a time when the world was at war. Aside from the complication of friction that developed because Carrie hated the political arena. The war theme, in particular, was especially fraught with friction mainly due to Carrie’s pro-German leaning.
During this time period there were approximately 20 million German Americans and many had strong pro-German sentiments. The author paints a vivid picture of the fear within the hearts of people during the war years; people were suspicious of their German neighbors. Vigilante groups like the APL, the American Protective League, organized and were active in hundreds of cities interrogating and arresting people they suspected of being disloyal; members listened to phone conversations and intercepted mail.
Just as the United States was preparing to finally enter the war after remaining neutral, Carrie, along with many other German-Americans, was investigated and placed under surveillance. The previously rumored extramarital affair between Harding and Carrie spread and became a gossip conversation.
At some point in the last years of their relationship, Carrie asked Harding for money; she had been living beyond her means. Harding agreed and began to supplement Carrie’s income, obviously realizing that her life, and in particular her political life, would be ruined if Carrie betrayed him by revealing her extramarital affair through the letters that she had saved. At one point, she asked him for $10,000. In 1920, Harding offered to pay Carrie $5,000 each year that she continued in politics if she returned all the letters she wrote to him. Apparently they reached an agreement. The last letter from her that she wrote to him was in 1920.
As the author puts it so precisely and succinctly, “Few figures in history have left such a rich record of ecstasy in a romantic relationship.”
This book is a captivating page-turner and a must-read for anyone interested in history, and in particular anyone interested in the lives of former United States Presidents. The author brings a part of the story to life through the descriptively detailed account of it. The reader is left with the desire to read the entire collection of letters.
The Harding Affair by James David Robenalt, attorney Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, 396 pages