Our Common Country: Mutual Good Will in America

By Warren G. Harding; Warren G. Harding III | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Warren G. Harding III

In the autumn of 1920, with the United States challenged by postwar disunity and economic depression, Warren G. Harding— a man of strong personal, business, and political values and a remarkable ability to achieve—campaigned for the presidency. His platform promised a return to peace, prosperity, and opportunity. He inspired Americans with his call for America First and reassured them by advocating a return to prewar normalcy. Elected the twenty-ninth president, he began to work to bring his vision to reality, seeking to make the United States a prosperous nation in which all citizens would enjoy the benefits of equal opportunity.

Like his fellow Republican Abraham Lincoln before him, Harding believed he was charged with preserving the nation. In 1920 the dividing force was not secession but the yielding of governmental responsibilities as mandated under the proposed covenant of the League of Nations. He argued against making a commitment to the league unless appropriate reservations were enacted. It was his viewpoint that the destiny of the United States is to lead the world by example, not to force its ideas on others.

The success of Harding's America First program can be evaluated in terms of a simile used by the historian Henry Adams. A grandson and great-grandson of presidents, Adams proposed

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