The Triumphant Foreign Policy of Warren G. Harding
“I find a hundred thousand sorrows touching my heart, and there is a ringing in my ears, like an admonition eternal, an insistent call, ‘It must not be again! It must not be again!'” said a tearful President Warren G. Harding in May 1921, as 5,212 wooden caskets with the remains of American servicemen from France arrived on the docks in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Warren Gamaliel Harding was a kind and generous man with a heart, a president who loved people, adored animals, and hated violence, bloodshed, and war. Yet he is often ridiculed as America’s worst president by the nation’s “scholars.” Despite these erroneous opinions, he was a president of great achievements. He reversed a severe economic depression in short order, restored the nation’s domestic tranquility, pardoned war dissenters, and called for equality for black Americans. But perhaps his most overlooked achievements were in foreign affairs.
When Harding came into office in 1921, America’s international relations, like the economy, was in shambles. The new president, as well as most Americans, wanted to see the end of war and a return to a more traditional American foreign policy. “I think it’s an inspiration to patriotic devotion to safeguard America first, to stabilize America first, to prosper America first, to think of America first, to exalt America first, to live for and revere America first,” he said during his presidential campaign. These views helped propel him to a landslide victory, becoming the first president to garner 60 percent of the popular vote.
In his 1921 inaugural address, he was more precise about his foreign policy ideas. “The recorded progress of our Republic, materially and spiritually, in itself proves the wisdom of the inherited policy of noninvolvement in Old World affairs,” he said. “Confident of our ability to work out our own destiny, and jealously guarding our right to do so, we seek no part in directing the destinies of the Old World. We do not mean to be entangled. We wil
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