PALACE HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 3, 1923 (UP) - President Harding is dead, mourned by an entire nation and world.
Death, apparently balked by medical science, struck suddenly and with no warning, at 7:30 last night.
The president had been believed definitely on the road to recovery from ptomaine poisoning, acute indigestion and a pneumonic affection which followed them.
But death found a way thru the armor - it struck into the brain with apoplexy, and without struggle or word, and with only a shudder of his weakened frame and the raising of one hand, the nation's head passed beyond.
Tonight they will take Warren G. Harding's body home - back to the White House where he worked as the chief magistrate of the people, who today, shocked beyond expression by his death, mourn for him, and his wife.
After the simplest private funeral services in the presidential suite at the Palace Hotel, where he took to his bed Sunday morning, the president's body will be placed aboard a special train which will lave San Francisco today at 7 p.m. (10 p.m. Cleveland time) for Washington.
He will be laid to rest in his home town - Marion, O. Before the final obsequies the president's body probably will lie in state in Washington.
The president passed with the sunset. The last rays of California's golden sunshine were pouring into his room, where Mrs. Harding, who had been at his side since he was stricken seriously last Saturday, sat reading to him from a magazine.
Dr. C.E. Sawyer, his old friend and personal physician, sat beside him.
The president was sitting very still listening to Mrs. Harding read. He seemed to be resting easily.
To the watchful eyes of his two nurses, Miss Ruth Powderly and Miss Sue Dausser, he seemed just as he had been all day comfortable and in better physical condition than at any time since he became ill.
There was no apprehension of impending tragedy in the minds of any there. Mrs. Harding and the nurses had every reason to feel easier about the condition of the president than at any moment since illness overtook him.
They were looking forward without anxiety to the night - another night, they believed, when the restorative power of sleep would add a little more to the slowly growing strength of the president.
Mrs. Harding read on. She came to the end of a paragraph and paused. She turned to her husband.
"That sounds good; go ahead," said Harding.
Mrs. Harding returned to the magazine and read. She had not finished a sentence when, as though some one had struck him a sudden and crushing blow, the president threw up one hand over his head convulsively.
Then the president stiffened and as suddenly dropped back limply.
Mrs. Harding rose from her chair crying "Warren," but he did not hear.
She knew it, and stumbling and running to the door, she flung it open and cried out into the corridor: "Send Dr. Boone."
A moment before, Dr. Sawyer, noting that his patient seemed to be in the same condition as throughout the day, had passed toward his own room.
Mrs. Harding's cry brought him back - but it was too late.
Dr. Boone, associated with Sawyer in the fight to save the president, came in. Three other doctors were summoned. They came - Dr. Hubert Work, secretary of the interior; Dr. Ray Lyman Wilbur, eminent head of the American Medical Association and president of Leland Stanford University, and Dr. Charles M. Cooper, a heart specialist.
Their combined medical talent was useless now. A glance at the still form on the bed told them that. They turned anxious eyes to the slight woman at the bedside, but she read their thoughts and with that indomitable bravery which has marked her whole life, particularly in the face of calamity or emergency, she said:
"I am not going to break down."
She looked down again at that strongly marked face and then a nurse led her to her room.
By this time an electric current of alarm had gone through the corridors adjacent to the president's suite. Secret service men their faces set stonily, hurried as messengers to find members of the president's official family and set in motion the sad plan which must be made.
City detectives and policemen, pressed into like service passed rapidly to and fro.
"Something has happened," passed the word.
In a few minutes Judson Welliver, general chief of White House publicity, came out with a short typed sheet. It was wrapped up by newspapermen and in moment the wires were carrying to a shocked country this official announcement:
"The president died instantaneously and without warning and while conversing with members of his family at 7:20. Death was apparently due to some brain evolvement, probably apoplexy. During the day he had been free from discomfort and there was every justification for anticipating a permanent recovery.
(Signed) "C.E. SAWYER, RAY LYMAN WILBUR, C.M.
COOPER, J.T. BOONE, HUBERT WORK."
A few minutes later a second statement was issued telling in brief the circumstances surrounding the death-bed scene. It read:
"The president died at 7:20 p.m. Mrs. Harding and two nurses, Miss Ruth Powderly and Miss Sue Dausser, were in the room at the time. Mrs. Harding was reading to the president when utterly without warning a slight shudder passed thru his frame. He collapsed and all recognized the end had come. A stroke of apoplexy was the cause of his death. Within a few moments all of the president's official party had been summoned."
In the death chamber there gathered quickly Atty. Gen. Daugherty, summoned from the dining table at the St. Francis Hotel; Secretary of Interior Work, also called from dinner; Secretary of Agriculture Wallace and Secretary of Commerce Hoover. They turned from the bedside, crushed.
Dr. Sawyer issued a formal statement expressing regret that early published reports had said that Mrs. Harding collapsed when the president died.
"From the beginning she has known of the serious and threatening phases of her husband's illness and she prepared herself for an emergency," the statement said. "She has been with him constantly ministering to his wants and watching over him.
"Death came suddenly without warning as she was reading to him at the end of a day of apparent rest. She was shocked, of course, and at first unable to realize that she had lost the husband who had made up all the interest in her life for so many proud and happy years.
"But there was no collapse, no hysteria. Just a brave rally to face her sorrows and the duties devolving upon her at this hour."
The official announcement telling plans for bearing the president's body to Washington follows:
"The president's party, as it has been traveling, with the addition of General Pershing, Atty. Gen. Daugherty and Mr. and Mrs. E.E. Remsberg and family (Mrs. Remsberg is a sister of President Harding) will leave San Francisco about 7 o'clock Friday evening.
"There will be no additions to the party other than those indicated, except a military and naval guard of honor of 16 enlisted men and two officers representing the army and a like representation of the navy.
"No stops will be made en route, except those necessary in operation of the train. The train will go from San Francisco via Reno, Ogden, Cheyenne, Omaha, Chicago, and thence to Washington. Whether it will go thru Cleveland or by a southern route, is not yet known.
"The president's remains will be borne in the rear car, which will be lighted at night and at all times. Two soldiers and two sailors will stand at attention guarding the casket.
"The remains will not be taken from the hotel until they go directly to the train. There will be only the very simplest private ceremony at the hotel before they are moved."
Scenes of indescribable confusion, bordering on panic, followed the first alarm, which spread quickly after Mrs. Harding had summoned the doctors.
It quickly became evident that something had gone wrong. Arrival of the doctors confirmed this.
In a few minutes the official announcement of death showed the full extent of the tragedy.
The word spread thru the hotel like wildfire.
It got to the streets.
Instantly crowds surged into the hotel and filled the corridors leading to the Harding suite.
Police and detectives milled about with the crowd, too thunder struck, with all the rest, to clear the halls for the passage of the members of the presidential official party who arrived by ones and twos, their faces horror-stricken.
Finally, Chief of Police O'Brien ordered the lobbies and halls of the Palace cleared.
The presidential flag was hauled down from the hotel and the American flags that flanked it were half-masted.
Harding's death was all the more startling because all his doctors had joined in a statement timed 4:30 p.m. to the effect that he had had the most satisfactory day since his illness began.
Dr. Sawyer, his personal physician and life-long friend, had supplemented the somewhat sparse verbiage of the official doctors' bulletin with the word that the president "had a fine day" and was definitely convalescent.
His temperature then was normal, pulse and respiration better and the lung infection had subsided. Everything pointed to recovery, slow but gradual.
The president had taken milk several times during the day, and had scattered in the evening to dinner in various parts of the city or in the hotel.
The illness which ended fatally tonight for the president first attacked him while he was aboard the transport Henderson, en route to Vancouver, B.C., on July 25.
It was diagnosed by Dr. C.E. Sawyer as ptomaine poisoning, resulting from eating crab-meat, which was put aboard the Henderson at Cordove, Alaska.
Nearly every member of the party suffered from the same malady apparently.
When the president reached Vancouver on the 26th, he apparently was better.
General Pershing, Admiral Hugh Rodman, General Morton, commander of the Presidio, and Congressman Curry of California, went into the presidential suite shortly before 9 p.m.
Secretary of Commerce Hoover was unable to speak as he came from the death chamber.
Thousands of people assembled in the street outside the hotel, watching the dim lights in the presidential suite on the eighth floor.
The news of the president's death was flashed over the city by telephone. Many of the notables in his party and others who had come to the city to greet him were being entertained by prominent Californians.
At the home of Julius Kahn, General Pershing was the honor guest. More than two dozen other prominent San Franciscans were present. Herbert Fleishbacker, one of the guests, was called to the telephone. He was informed that the president was dead.
"Impossible," was the general cry. Three telephones were kept busy while the report was checked. When the report was found to be true, the dinner was immediately broken up and Pershing and others hurried to the Palace Hotel.
Congressman Curry, veteran California member of Congress, paid this tribute to Harding.
"As a patriotic American and genuine pure Christian, the passing of President Harding was not only a national but international calamity.
"The people of California were behind him in his humanitarian efforts in reorganizing the political and economic life of the country following the World War.
"Not only nationally, but internationally, his idealism was recognized.
"We mourn his passing and extend our deepest sympathy to his family and pray God to protect our republic in its hour of trial."
At ten minutes after 10 o'clock, Atty. Gen. Daugherty arrived and went immediately to the presidential suite, it was said, to join other cabinet members.
Shortly after 10 o'clock, Mrs. E.E. Remsberg of Santa Ana, the president's sister, and her two daughters, Kathrine and Nell Marie, appeared in the corridor and hurried toward the presidential suite.
The Remsbergs had been dining across the bay in Oakland and were apprised of the president's death by telephone. They hurried at once to the hotel.
Alfred Holman, magazine editor, who was a close personal friend of Mr. Harding, was summoned by request of Mrs. Harding. She told him of the president's last moments. Holman said she was bearing up with wonderful bravery. Mrs. Harding was understood to have discussion with Holman regarding a statement to the nation she may issue later.
During the president's illness Mrs. Harding got so many thousands of messages from people in all walks of life in the United States and abroad that she was unable to read them all and two stenographers were devoting all their time to the hopeless task of answering all these messages.
Mrs. Harding was asked to authorize publication of messages from former President Woodrow Wilson, Chief Justice Taft, King George of Great Britain, and many other of the world's notables. She declined on the ground that to her and the president they were not a whit more precious than the unnumbered thousands that came from plain American men and women who poured out affections and sympathy. As all of them could not be published, none should be, she decided.
Speaker Gillett of the House hurried in from a social engagement.
George B. Christian, the president's secretary, who was in Los Angeles, representing the president at a Masonic celebration, was summoned by wire and arrived in San Francisco early today. He was stunned by his chief's death.
Mayor Rudolf of San Francisco, who last Sunday greeted Mrs. Harding when their train pulled into San Francisco, offered to make funeral arrangements.
Deeply appreciative of the kindness of San Franciscans and Californians generally, the cabinet members and Speaker Gillett issued a statement to the people of the state and city. It follows:
"We have all been deeply touched by the instantaneous and sympathetic welcome given by the people of San Francisco and California to our great leader, his noble wife and the members of our party. When the truly remarkable hospitality prepared for the president and Mrs. Harding was turned to sympathy for them it seemed to us as though they were surrounded by the love and affection of their own home folks.
"On behalf of Mrs. Harding and ourselves we wish to express our great gratitude to the governor of the state, the mayor and other officials of San Francisco, to the Citizens Committee, to the press of San Francisco and to every citizen of the city and state."
Warren Gamaliel Harding, twenty-ninth president of the United States, furnishes American history with still another example of a country boy who worked his way unaided from a humble birthplace to the highest office in the land.
Born of poor parents, Harding made his own way thru school and college, fought an uphill battle to become a successful newspaper publisher, gained leadership in Ohio state politics, became a United States senator and finally was elected chief executive of the nation.
Harding was born in a two room house on his grandfather's farm near Blooming Grove, Morrow-co, O., Nov. 3, 1865.
His father, George Tyron Harding, was a country physician whose income from his restricted practice was so small that he was forced to work in the fields to support his family.
His mother, Phoebe Elizabeth Dickerson Harding, now dead, was a home-loving, hard working woman of deep religious convictions. She was of the Adventist faith.
Both parents came of a long line of American born ancestors, all hardly pioneers. The elder Harding was of Scotch descent, while his wife came of Dutch ancenstry.
Harding was the eldest of eight children. When he was 5 the family moved to Caledonia, O., a neighboring village.
As a boy Harding began to show traces of the qualities that later characterized him. He learned to read at 4. He was expert at memorizing long prose and poetic passages. He loved to speak and recite on every possible occasion.
But the boy Harding was far from being of the usual genius type. From childhood he was obliged to work with his elders on the farm.
His studies at the village school frequently were interrupted by long periods of absence during which he helped in clearing land, planting and harvesting.
He grew into a boy of powerful physique and became naturally a leader among his schoolmates. He reveled in outdoor sports.
Thus Harding's boyhood passed. At 14 he was more than six feet tall - a lanky, ungainly youth.
At this age Harding entered Ohio Central College at Iberia, O. This was little more than an academy. It has since passed out of existence.
Harding had no funds to pay for his education. But he made this up by hard work during vacations and in spare hours.
He drove teams, worked on a railway and - most important - traveled about the country painting barns.
When the White House was being painted in 1921 Harding took a brush from the hands of one of the painters and demonstrated his skill.
It was at college that Harding got his first newspaper experience in editing a college paper. He also worked in the village printshop.
Harding finished his college course in 1882 when he was 17. In 1884 his family moved to Marion, O., and Harding went too.
At Marion Harding followed three lines of activity - he taught a country school, read law and played a horn in the town band.
But Harding's heart was in newspaper work. In the course of his first year at Marion he acquired the Marion Daily Star.
There are a half dozen stories of how Harding came into possession of the paper, but this one has been told by Harding himself:
The Star, a second-rate paper, was about to be sold at sheriff's sale. Harding's father secured control of the paper by settling its debts.
No cash was passed. The debts were settled by trading real estate. Anyway, Harding found himself editor and proprietor of a real daily newspaper.
But not for long. A judgment was entered in court against some of the property Harding's father had traded for the paper and Warren lost control.
Discouraged, he went to work at $7 a week as a reporter on the Marion Mirror, Democratic paper.
The Blaine-Cleveland presidential campaign was at its height. Harding was an ardent supporter of Blaine, the Republican candidate. One day he wore a Blaine hat to work. His Democratic boss dismissed him.
Harding sold insurance and went on playing in the band until Cleveland was elected. On election night Harding and Jack Warwick, now paragrapher on a Toledo newspaper, decided to buy the Star back again.
Harding had $100. Warwick borrowed $100. They bought the Star. Later Harding bought Warwick out.
Then began a hard struggle. Often Harding had to ask advertisers to pay in advance to meet the demands of creditors. He used to swing thru Marion from store to store, soliciting advertising and culling "local items."
But the fight won. Harding developed the Star into a gold mine, building up the biggest circulation for a paper in a town of 30,000 in the middle west. Early in 1923 he sold the Star, after almost 40 years association with the paper.
Late in the eighties Harding at a dance met Florence Kling, daughter of Amos Kling, banker and richest man in Marion.
Harding began paying ardent court to Miss Kling despite the objection of the banker, who told his daughter the struggling young editor "never would amount to anything."
Harding built a home and in 1891 defied Miss Kling's father's injunction and married the banker's daughter. For years Banker Kling would not speak to his son-in-law.
Immediately after her marriage, Mrs. Harding went to work in her husband's newspaper office where she acted as manager and did general office work.
As soon as the Star got on its financial feet Harding began to take an active interest in politics. In 1900 he was elected to the Ohio State Senate and held his seat until 1904.
In that year he was elected lieutenant governor of Ohio. His term ended in 1906. In 1910 he ran for governor but was defeated.
But Harding had steadily been gaining leadership in state politics. In 1915 he was elected United States senator from Ohio. He served on the important Foreign Relations Committee throughout the war.
When the Republican national convention was deadlocked at Chicago in 1920, Harding was picked as the best fitted to bring harmony to the differing Republican factions. He was nominated for the presidency.
In November, 1920, Harding was elected president by a tremendous majority on a platform opposing the League of Nations and pledging efforts to re-establish "normalcy" - a term which Harding coined and which since has been widely used.
Harding's first year in the presidential chair started under almost crushing handicaps. Industry was crushed, unemployment was growing, international relations were hopelessly involved.
At the close of Harding's first year, the administration pointed to these accomplishments:
Technical state of war with Germany and Austria was brought to an end.
Immigration, which had added to the unemployment burden, was restricted by congressional enactment.
A budget system was established and a survey undertaken for reorganization of governmental departments with a view to saving expense.
The Veterans' Bureau was established, bring under one head the scattered activities connected with the welfare of former service men.
The stand of the United States government on mandates conferred by the Versailles treaty was clarified.
A federal highway act appropriated $75,000,000 for federal co-operation with states in building better roads.
Saving of $86,000,000 was effected in the naval appropriation bill and $15,000,000 in army expenditures.
A commission was created for handling the refunding of allied debts to the United States.
Packers bill was passed for regulation of tariff in livestock, eggs and dairy products, while another bill was passed prohibiting grain gambling.
But President Harding's one great outstanding achievement in his first year was the calling of the world disarmament conference at Washington in November 1921.
This conference, most unbiased observers believe, removed the threat of war in the Far East and definitely did away with the Anglo-Japanese treaty, by some regarded as a menace to the United States.
The conference drafted treaties providing for:
Co-operation between the United States, Great Britain, France and Japan in maintaining peace in the Far East. (Four-Power Pacific Treaty.)
Recognition of the open door in China by all nations interested in the Far East.
Retention by the United States of cable and radio rights on Yap, a Pacific island important as a communication center.
Harding was a man of more than usual height - he was well over six-feet tall. His head was large, set on a pair of massive shoulders. His hair was iron gray and thin on top. His eyes were light blue, his face lion-like. His frame was sinewy.
Friends called him "his own greatest taskmaster." He worked hard and long throughout his life. At the White House he started the day at 8 a.m., and rarely finished work before midnight.
His favorite sports were fishing and golfing, chiefly the latter. As president he was known as the best dressed man in Washington.
Harding, from boyhood to president, was famed as a conciliator and had great ability in drawing together rival factions. He tried to emulate McKinley in this respect.
His three great heroes were Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Napoleon. He devoured every book he could find about Napoleon and in Europe visited all the places connected with Napoleon's life.
From his mother he inherited a deep religious nature. He was a trustee of the Trinity Baptist Church at Marion.
He was called the greatest hand-shaker who ever tenanted the White House. Almost any visitor in Washington could get to clasp the president's hand, despite the huge volume of work under which the executive labored.
Mrs. Harding was a quiet woman who took little interest in Washington social life. Her influence was a giant factor in bringing her husband to success.
"To be successful a man must be well-fed and well-groomed," she used to say and she devoted her life to making Harding both of these.
Of Harding an editor whom he employed to operate the Marion Star, said:
"W.G. is the squarest, fairest man in the world. And he's a cracker jack reporter!
Harding once went in for a stage career, but it was prematurely wrecked. Two actors came to Marion from Cincinnati and organized a stock company. Harding was a member. The show went to Murraysville, 25 miles away, and there went broke. Harding got back to Marion penniless.
Ohio bands formerly met every year at Findlay, O., and competed for prizes.
Harding was an admirer of Shakespeare. With a Marion Star reporter, also a Shakespeare lover, he came to Cleveland to see a Shakespeare production.
They had $6 between them. A friendly conductor let them ride to Galion, O., free. There another conductor boarded the train and charged them $2.40 fare.
Gallery seats at Cleveland cost $2. Hotel bill was $1.50. In the morning they had 10 cents left. A Marion conductor saved them the trouble of walking home.
Immediately after his nomination in 1920 Harding told reporters at Chicago:
"I feel as if I'd been holding up a pair of eights and drawn a full house!"
Harding never could dismiss a man from his employ. One day a drunken printer "pied" a case of type.
"You get right out," Harding said. "But - but come back Saturday if you don't find another job."
Harding always carried a printer's make-up rule as a pocket-piece. He called it the badge of his profession. He was a member of the Marion Typographical Union.