Florence Harding: First Lady

Florence Harding experienced pain, from her men, beginning with her father. Her first marriage ended in divorce. Her married to the President ended mysteriously.

Though Florence Mabel Kling was born the daughter of the wealthiest banker in Marion, Ohio, her life progressed to everywhere but on 'easy street.' Her mother died after Florence was born, so she never received the nurturing of a mother's love. Florence's father, Amos Kling provided materially, but emotionally, it's been reported that he was a stale man. He expected everyone in his path to perform with high measure, and in a formal manner, similar to that of a legislative or judicial body. To many, he was recognized as having impossible traits.

Mr. Kling saw to it that Florence attended the best school in Marion. Later, he sent her to the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music to study piano. Florence Kling learned to duck and take cover early in life because of her father's strict and demanding nature. He dictated a curfew hour for her when she started courting. However, if she did not abide by his unrealistic rules, he'd deviate by locking her out of the house until the next morning.

Florence Kling was viewed as a "plain Jane" in appearance. She was never one to receive a second look from any man. With this already one of her life's predicaments, Florence Kling's father created additional stress for his daughter by initiating distasteful and dramatic interferences with her love life. Florence met a man that was not intimidated by her father's harsh ways. His name was Henry DeWolfe, a wealthy man. Wolfe drank excessively while enjoying the company of lower class women. Extravagant spending habits were simply added traits to this ego-bound and self-centered man.

Florence was a woman of low self-esteem, clinging to the attention of anyone that paid attention to her. Therefore, she was oblivious to DeWolfe's characteristics. With full knowledge that she wasn't one to be approached by many men, she immediately and affirmatively responded to his marriage proposal. This young couple eloped when Florence was merely in her teens, and the next year a son named Marshall, was born.

Shortly after Marshall was born, Henry DeWolfe decided to open and manage a roller skating rink in another town. With no warning to Florence, Henry DeWolfe abandoned Florence on the day the rink was to be opened for business.

Florence found herself suddenly alone, with grief, and a feeling of fear. It was all she could do to become motivated in an unfamiliar town, with a new son. She had not been there long enough to develop so much as one friendship. As a result, Florence decided to move back home to Marion.

The differences between she and her father were never-ending. However, she would do absolutely anything for the one human being she loved and adored--her son, Marshall.

When Florence settled in her hometown, she rented a piano. Because she knew piano so well, she decided to teach lessons to support Marshall and herself.

By the time Florence reached her thirties she met Warren Harding, the son of a poor doctor. Warren and Florence found a common bond pertinent their earlier family life. Warren Harding understood an overbearing parent, because his mother glowed with this trait. Warren Harding was a man of quick wit. He was like many lawyers, having a wonderful gift to gab. He was popular, too, having many traits that filled a void for Florence. Her traits were just the opposite.

Florence's father always felt a "˜cut above' other men, especially if they pursued his daughter. Once Amos Kling passed Harding on the courthouse steps. He announced to Harding that he'd shoot him if he ever stepped foot again on his property. Warren Harding was his own man. Unlike many folks, Harding completely ignored Mr. Kling's remarks. He refused to pay attention to idle threats from anyone. However, that didn't prevent Kling from moving forward with a vengeance. He reported to the local newspaper that the Harding family was from a "Negro" background. An article was published quoting Mr. Kling's statement.

Though Amos Kling continued with efforts of manipulating separation between Warren Harding and his daughter, Florence, it was to no avail. He lacked power in preventing them from becoming man and wife. Though brief, Warren and Florence Harding began life together in a beautiful fashion. They surrounded themselves with friends and acquaintances, becoming two social butterflies. In fact, both Florence Harding and her husband soon realized that they preferred being in the presence of lots of people to sharing time with each other.

An out-and-out trait of Warren Harding was that he never had the ability to say no. It served him well as a candidate for President. It gave Harding the edge in becoming selected as the Republican President in 1920. On the other hand, this same trait became destructive to his reputation, concerning women. In the meantime, Florence was always subconscious about her appearance. She was determined to receive a facial every day that she was in the White House.

Rumors were common in Washington, that the Harding's marriage was a rocky one. It was rumored that the First Lady developed into a first class martyr. She nagged Warren Harding, with practically every breath she drew, chronically complaining that he simply did not care for her. She constantly lived with a suspicious attitude and a complete lack of trust in her husband.

Florence Harding was in bed during the later years of her marriage to Warren Harding. She suffered with one kidney infection after another. It was later revealed that Warren Harding had extra-marital affairs leading back to the time he was a Senator. When feelings of emergency evolved, Harding would make love to one of his many mistresses in the Senate Building. He exhibited an attitude with venom toward his wife, but he was always ready and willing to display roving eyes toward the women.

Harding always remained more popular than Florence. However, Florence Harding was the reliable and dependable one. Florence Harding was small in intelligence, but she was a hard worker, with 'can do' attitude. It has been reported that Mrs. Harding often stated that she "made Warren Harding."

Because of the tremendous stress that Warren and Florence Harding experienced, a family doctor suggested they take a trip together. The only common bond left between the two was interest in travel. They took the doctor's advice and headed for Alaska. On the way to Alaska, they stopped in San Francisco, where Warren Harding died a sudden and mysterious death in 1923. Although there was never any proof disclosed, it was rumored that Florence Harding may have killed Warren Harding. She'd certainly suffered a long-term vengeance toward her husband.

After her husband's death, Florence Harding quickly returned to Washington, D. C. First on her agenda was to destroy all presidential papers that might embarrass Warren Harding. She burned his love letters prior to his funeral.

Florence Harding had been in declining health prior to and after the death of Warren Harding. Just over a year later, Florence Harding died on November 21, 1924. She is buried next to Warren Harding in Marion, Ohio.

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