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Florence Mabel Kling was born in Marion, Ohio on August 15, 1860. Her father, Amos Kling, was a successful businessman so her youth was one of wealth and privilege. After graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory in 1879, she married Henry De Wolfe, who soon deserted her and their infant son. She returned to Marion, left her baby with her parents, and supported herself by giving piano lessons.
Warren G. Harding moved to Marion at age 16 and shortly thereafter bought the Daily Star. It is believed he met his future wife at a local rollerskating rink. A courtship with plain looking, domineering Florence Kling resulted in their marriage in 1891, over the objections of her father. The newlyweds moved into the home where they would remain for the rest of their lives. They had no children together. As he rose through Ohio politics and became a senator, she skillfully guided his career.
But Florence Harding had mixed feelings about her husband's nomination for president in 1920. Both were in poor health; she suffered from kidney problems and he had heart trouble. She was also aware of his extramarital affairs, but they did not become a campaign issue. There were, however, campaign rumors that Harding had Negro blood. Florence Harding proved to be an active campaigner and Harding won by huge popular and electoral majorities.
Many White House evenings were spent with Harding playing poker with close friends and his wife, whom he lovingly referred to as "The Duchess," acting as bartender. (Since Prohibition was in effect, no liquor was served at public functions.)
Harding was a pleasant, trusting person and therefore easy to bilk.In 1922 evidence of graft and bribery among his friends, who now held high offices in the government, surfaced.Both of the Hardings showed signs of great stress, and their physician suggested a change of scenery. Since both of them loved to travel, they took a trip to Alaska and the western United States abroad a special train with medical personnel accompanying them. His health worsened and he died suddenly in San Francisco on August 3, 1923. Upon returning to Washington D.C. she destroyed presidential papers that might embarrass him before attending his funeral. She died in Marion on November 21, 1924 and is buried there in a memorial tomb next to her husband.