The 29th U.S. president Warren G. Harding with his wife during a horse show in 1922.
Let this be a lesson to everyone: Your scandalous romantic activities are always at the mercy of the Internet, even in the 1900s.
President Warren G. Harding, who promised Americans a "return to normalcy" in the 1920s, had a torrid love affair with a friends' wife that began over a decade prior to becoming the nation's 29th chief executive. Because no one was around to give sexting advice at the time, Harding professed fondness for his mistress, Carrie Phillips, in a series of steamy letters — some even including photos. Naturally, Phillips kept every word — all 1,000 pages.
The Harding family donated the letters, previously under court-ordered seal for 50 years, to the Library of Congress, which just announced that the love notes will be made public online on July 29. Some of the letters were released to the public a decade ago when an author named James David Robenalt was researching the president and discovered forgotten microfilm copies, which he included in his book, The Harding Affair: Love and Espionage During the Great War.
I do not know what inspired you, but you . . . resurrected me, and set me aflame with the fullness of your beauty and the fire of your desireI do not know what inspired you, but you . . . resurrected me, and set me aflame with the fullness of your beauty and the fire of your desire. . . . imprisoned me in your embrace and gave me transport — God! My breath quickens to recall it," Harding wrote, after a particularly pleasurable last encounter with Phillips.
In his interview with the the Washington Post, Robenalt, who has read almost all of the letters, says that Harding and Phillips both seemed to be in barely functioning marriages. As Harding climbed the political ladder toward presidency, it became more troublesome for the two to stay together. The affair ended in 1921.
Harding may not be here to hang his head in embarrassment, but his requests for Phillips to burn all of her letters speaks to a century of learning the consequences of intimacy and communication. We can only imagine how the former president would have felt about Snapchat.
Tags: CONVERSATIONS, LOVE, PRESIDENT, SCANDAL, U.S., US & World