In 1920 Warren G Harding took over the presidency from Woodrow Wilson, who had served his eight years in office. As president, he brought in many of his friends and gave them important jobs. They were known as the Ohio Gang. However, they did anything but work. The gang used to meet in the white house and do what Harding liked best, drinking whisky and gambling. These scandals were covered up, as the Attorney General was a member of the Ohio Gang.
Harding’s first presidential task was to move the government away from wartime emergency conditions, and he did this successfully. In other areas he stepped up federal hiring during an employment slump and set up a bureau of the budget. He also agreed with the Great Powers to limit their capital ship tonnage in fixed ratios. Harding also acted forcefully in the movement to limit the long hours of labour that previously had prevailed in the American steel industry.
Warren Harding’s naivety though aided the corruption of his friends. It was thought at the time that was aware of the many deals that his gang made, but later research has suggested otherwise. One of the main corrupt deals, which the Ohio Gang was involved with, was the “The Teapot Dome Scandal”. Secretary of the Interior Albert B. Fall one of the members of the gang, had persuaded Harding to transfer control of three naval oil reserves from the Department of the navy to the Department of the Interior in 1921. Fall leased the reserves at Elk Hills, California, and Teapot Dome, Wyoming, mostly without competitive bidding to the private oil companies of Edward L. Doheny and Harry F. Sinclair in 1922. For helping out arrange the Teapot Dome transfer, Fall received over 300,000 U.S dollars in cash, bonds and available livestock from Sinclair. The publicity surrounding the bribery scandals and theft overshadowed the positive achievements of Harding’s presidency.
In 1923 Warren G. Harding died of a stroke and was succeeded in office by his former vice-president Calvin Coolidge. The first of his presidential activities was to remove all of Harding’s cabinet, starting with the former attorney general. He was nominated for president in 1924 in his own right and won easily. His policies differed from most of the other presidents in the 20th century, he was reactive not proactive. Within the narrow limits he set himself, he was a competent and effective leader, using presidential press conferences with skill. He was popularly known as “silent Cal”, because of his refusal to converse in small talk. Coolidge believed that “the business of America is business”, and that the business of the government was to balance the budget, reduce the debt, cut taxes, and otherwise not interfere with small businesses.
Coolidge was a shy, quiet man who stood for a simple way of life. Coolidge was very interested in economy, and did a lot to make America the richest country in the world, which it was in 1928. He enjoyed great popularity, and was in office during generally good times. However, he announced later that year simply that he did “not choose to run” for re-election, and he retired to private life in 1929.
Herbert Hoover became the 31st president of the United States of America when he defeated Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York in 1928. Hoover enjoyed only half a year of the prosperous times left by his predecessor. At first, Hoover was reluctant to interfere with the economy, but the stock market crash made the drastic changes, and by 1932 more than 12 million Americans were out of work. Hoover decided to use the power of the federal government to help the situation. He passed laws that enabled the government to help business and provide credit for homeowners and farmers. As the economy remained at a low, private and local relief funds became exhausted. Against his own principles, therefore, Hoover reluctantly turned to the government’s money to help out poor people. By this time his actions were too late, Hoover’s democratic opponents had already stereotyped him into the wrong image and this would haunt him and his party for the rest of his life.
Hoover’s presidency was thwarted by unfortunate events, and his status as an astute businessman was overshadowed. He believed in “rugged individualisation”, people working hard for themselves. However, when 12 million of his people were unemployed he could not live by this and others of his policies. Nominated for re-election in 1932, Hoover was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
After studying about all 3 presidents in detail, I believe Calvin Coolidge was the most successful president. Both Warren G. Harding and Herbert Hoover had problems while they were at office. Harding had numerous scandals linked with his name, as well as a corrupt cabinet. Despite having a good rap or with the people, the illegal business deals marred his name. Hoover had the unfortunate task of dealing with the great depression and this left a great strain on his presidency; I don’t believe he dealt with the crisis very well.
Calvin Coolidge overshadowed the scandals of the previous president by making America the richest country in the world by 1928. He was also very popular and was a very easygoing man. He was an excellent businessman and was very economically minded. I believe he did the best job for America out of the 3.