The Dark Secrets Warren G. Harding Tried To Hide During His Presidency

Politicians often face the dilemma of trying to look like the good people they want the public to think they are while still being the terrible ones they actually are. Case in point: Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States of America. Reviled as one of the worst presidents in American history, Harding would himself agree with such an assessment of his time on the job. According to The New York Times Magazine, he once said, "I am not fit for this office and should never have been here."

Harding left behind quite a bit of evidence to back up that claim. His administration was rife with nepotism, corruption, and ineffectual policy, and that was just the stuff he was unable to hide. The guy actually had quite a few secrets he tried to keep from the American public, but history has uncovered his dark side. And it's even creepier and more repulsive than you're probably imagining.

Harding was the only president to have ever been successfully blackmailed by a mistress

Had Harding lived in the days of texting, you know he'd have been one of those politicians whose careers were destroyed by a photo they sent to the youngest intern in the office. Just think of him as the Anthony Weiner of a hundred years ago. Harding may have been unable to send an instant photo of his wiener to his mistresses, but he did write about it quite a bit. And, as noted by The New York Times Magazine, he even named it: Jerry. Harding wrote about little Jerry in letters sent to his longtime mistress Carrie Fulton Phillips, the wife of James Phillips, one of Harding's closest friends. What a guy. He told Carrie on various occasions that Jerry had come to talk about things like being "thrilled by your pink lips that convey the surpassing rapture of human touch and the unspeakable joy of love's surpassing embrace." At other times, his eroticism got downright corny, like when he wrote that he wanted to take Carrie to "Mount Jerry."

The Washington Post notes that Harding had his crony, Attorney General Harry Daugherty, intimidate any of the president's mistresses who attempted to blackmail him. But he was unable to get Phillips to back down. She ended up getting a lump sum of $25,000 and a monthly stipend of $2,000, making Harding the only president in U.S. history to have been successfully blackmailed by a mistress until Stormy Daniels got $130,000 of hush money out of her presidential paramour a century or so later. 

Harding also fathered an illegitimate child and may have gambled away White House china

It's actually kind of funny that Harding tried to hide his philandering. According to The Washington Post, he once spoke about it openly and crassly at a National Press Club party. "It's a good thing I am not a woman," he said. "I would always be pregnant. I can't say no." Still, he did his best to cover his tracks, but time has brought out the dirty little secrets he hoped would never see the light of day.

In August 2015, ABC News reported that DNA testing had confirmed rumors that he'd had an affair with a woman named Nan Britton and fathered a child with her. Britton made the relation known in a 1927 autobiography titled "The President's Daughter," in which she claimed to have carried out a secret six-year affair with Harding that had resulted in the birth of their daughter Elizabeth Ann. Britton was cast as a "degenerate" and a "sex pervert" after the release of her book, but the science doesn't lie: dirty old Harding was indeed Elizabeth's biological father.

In addition to being a sex pervert himself, Harding may have also been an inveterate gambler. The Independent claims that he once lost White House china in a game of poker. The Independent provides no source for the claim, and Snopes has been unable to confirm the story, but we wouldn't put it past old hound dog Harding.