Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, led the nation during a time of recovery and transformation after World War I. Despite a presidency that was marred by scandal, Harding achieved several notable accomplishments that shaped America’s future. This article explores the top five achievements of Warren Harding’s presidency, highlighting his contributions to the economy, foreign policy, civil rights, and industrial advancements.
1. Economic Revitalization:
One of Harding’s significant accomplishments was his focus on reviving the post-war American economy. He introduced the concept of “normalcy,” emphasizing a return to pre-war economic policies. Harding advocated for lower taxes and reduced government intervention, providing businesses with the freedom they needed to recover. His administration pushed for pro-business policies that resulted in increased industrial production and job growth. Harding’s efforts set the stage for the Roaring Twenties, a period of unprecedented economic prosperity.
2. Reduction of World War I Debt:
Another notable achievement of the Harding presidency was his successful negotiation of the Washington Naval Conference in 1921. The conference aimed to reduce naval armament and ease tensions among world powers. Harding’s leadership led to the signing of several treaties, including the Five-Power Treaty, which limited naval construction and successfully reduced military expenditures for participating nations. By prioritizing diplomacy over confrontation, Harding played a significant role in stabilizing the global political climate and reducing the burden of World War I debt.
3. Civil Rights Advancements:
Despite the turbulent racial climate of the early 20th century, President Harding took steps towards civil rights advancements. In 1922, he appointed the first African American diplomat, Oscar DePriest, as the alternate delegate to the League of Nations. Furthermore, Harding pushed for anti-lynching legislation and civil rights protections, although these reforms would not come to fruition until later presidencies. Harding’s commitment to racial equality paved the way for future administrations to advance civil rights further.
4. Infrastructure Development:
Harding recognized the importance of infrastructure development in fostering economic growth and strengthening the nation. He championed the Federal Highway Act of 1921, also dubbed the “Appropriations Bill for Highways.” This legislation provided federal funding for the construction of an expansive network of highways, connecting towns and cities across America. Harding understood that a robust transportation system would connect people, goods, and ideas, ultimately driving economic progress and promoting national unity.
5. Encouraging Industrial Research and Development:
Another vital achievement of the Harding administration was its promotion of industrial research and development. Harding signed the creation of the Bureau of Mines in 1920, which played a pivotal role in advancing mining safety standards and technologies. Additionally, he advocated for the Mellon Plan, which aimed to reduce taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals, encouraging private investments that fueled industrial innovation and technological advancements. This emphasis on innovation sowed the seeds for the technological explosion of the coming decades.
Despite the controversies surrounding Warren Harding’s presidency, his tenure witnessed significant achievements that left a lasting impact on American society. From revitalizing the economy and reducing international tensions to promoting civil rights and encouraging industrial advancements, Harding’s accomplishments laid the foundation for a prosperous and dynamic future. While his presidency may be overshadowed by scandal, it is important to recognize the positive contributions Harding made during his time in office.