This engaging article about Warren G. Harding released me from a near lifetime of shamed silence. When I was a child, my grandmother told me that I was related to President Harding; sixth cousin twice removed, she said I was.
Early in the school year, in hopes of securing the admiration of my fellow third graders, I announced to them my important connection to Warren G. Our (nasty) teacher, Mrs. Rosenfeld, overheard me and, smiling sweetly, said, “Of course you know he was the worst President we ever had.” I hardly ever spoke of him again. But as I grew older (and witnessed several Presidencies), I wondered: Was Harding that bad?
Carl Sferrazza Anthony’s depiction of Harding as not a bad guy at all but as a kind man and even something of a progressive thinker for his time thus comes as a great relief. Unfortunately, my grandmother can no longer precisely remember through which branch of the family I came to be the former President’s sixth cousin twice removed, and several family members doubt the relation entirely. But I don’t care. Thanks to Mr. Anthony, I plan to claim Warren G. Harding as my cousin and to do so with pride.