Better late than never — one of history’s weakest American presidents is finally getting the opportunity to stir up a steamy legacy for himself, nearly a century after his death.
Love letters written by President Warren G. Harding to his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, will be open to the public at the Library of Congress on July 29, revealing a slew of intimate moments that began when Harding was the lieutenant governor of Ohio.
According to excerpts of the letters included in “The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War” by James David Robenalt, Harding was quite the literary charmer, writing, “My Darling…There are no words, at my command, sufficient to say the full extent of my love for you– a mad, tender, devoted, ardent, eager, passion-wild, jealous…hungry…love.”
In another excerpt included in the book, Harding wrote: “I do not know what inspired you, but you…resurrect me, and set me aflame with the fullness of your beauty and the fire of your desire.”
Despite all his charming qualities, It seems as though there was no one around to provide Harding with advice on the dangers of leaving a paper trail, given that Phillips kept all 1,000 pages of evidence of the decade-long affair hidden in a box at her home in Marion, Ohio, where they were found by her guardian and lawyer.
In 1963, three years after Phillips’ death, her lawyer made the letters available to a prospective Harding biographer, which promptly spurred a lawsuit brought on by the late president’s nephew, Dr. George Harding. Dr. Harding eventually donated the letters to the Library of Congress where they were to be opened 50 years later.
According to the Library of Congress, the vast majority of the letters were written by Harding when he served in the U.S. Senate from 1915-1921. The affair ended before Harding became president in 1921, but the pair “remained on good terms,” and Phillips even visited Harding at the White House with her husband and mother in a year into his presidency.