Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe Harding Is Born
Florence Mabel Kling DeWolfe Harding, First Lady during the Warren Harding administration (1921-23), was born on August 15, 1860.
An outspoken supporter of woman suffrage, Mrs. Harding cast her ballot in the presidential campaign of 1920 for her husband. She was the first American First Lady afforded that right, as the Nineteenth Amendment had been ratified the previous summer.
The eldest child of a prosperous Marion, Ohio, capitalist, Florence Kling learned about business from her father. When Warren Harding suffered a lengthy illness a year after their 1891 marriage, she put these skills to work by taking over his duties as owner/operator of the Marion Star. When he recovered, she remained as business and circulation manager. "I went down there intending to help out for a few days," she later recalled, "and stayed fourteen years." Under Mrs. Harding's skillful administration, the newspaper prospered.
A mother (divorced, with a young son from a first marriage), wife, and business manager, Florence Harding was one of the first women to bring a professional identity to the role of First Lady. In 1914, Harding entered the U.S. Senate race at her urging. When Harding was nominated as the Republican candidate for president in 1920, "The Duchess," as he referred to his wife, campaigned enthusiastically for his election. "I have only one real hobby—my husband," said Mrs. Harding. President Harding openly acknowledged the importance of his wife to his political success.
Florence "Flossie" Mabel Kling Harding (previously DeWolfe) (August 15, 1860 – November 21, 1924), wife of Warren G. Harding, was First Lady of the United States from 1921 to 1923.
Born in Marion, Ohio, the daughter of Amos Kling, a prominent Marion banker, and Louisa Bouton-Kling, "Flossie" was a headstrong, dowdy woman, somewhat masculine in manner, with a piercing voice and blue eyes.
Pregnant at age 19, Florence eloped with Henry "Pete" Athenton DeWolfe, her childhood friend and neighbor, in 1880. To date, scholastic researchers have been unable to locate official documentation or a legal marriage license for the couple, leading to the belief that Pete DeWolfe and Florence Kling were never civilly married, but instead declared common law marriage as allowed at the time in Ohio. DeWolfe proved a spendthrift and a heavy drinker. Shortly after the birth of their son Marshall Eugene DeWolfe (also known as Marshall Eugene Kling) in 1880, Florence left her husband and returned to Marion. She divorced De Wolfe in 1886 and resumed her maiden name; he died at age 35.
She refused financial help from her wealthy father and supported herself, and for a time, her son by giving piano lessons; she had studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music before her marriage. Eventually, she let her parents raise the boy, who like his father, became a drifter and died young.
I owe allegiance to only one boss—and she sits right over there in that box. She's a mighty good one too. ”— Warren G. Harding, campaign speech, 1910