American Presidents

Warren Harding American Presidents Teacher Guide
The Life of President Warren G. Harding
September 20, 1999 on C-SPAN
Recommended Use: Intermediate to High School

Before Viewing American Presidents
Part 1

Ask students what they know about Warren G. Harding.
Present students with the following information:

  • Warren G. Harding was very popular with the American public, such that he won the presidential election by a landslide.

  • He was a newspaper man, and had political ambitions that were propelled by his good looks and friendly personality.

  • Once elected to the presidency, President Harding is reputed to have said, "I don't know what to do or where to turn…Somewhere there must be a book that tells about it…But I don't know where that book is, and maybe I couldn't read it if I found it! My God, but this is a hell of a place for a man like me to be in!"

Part 2
Use this information to begin a discussion based on the following questions:

  • Why would the public be drawn to such a social character?
  • In what ways could such a personality best serve America as president?
  • What presidential roles does a socially gifted person best fulfill?
  • In what ways may Warren G. Harding's personality have left him at a disadvantage in his presidency?
Part 3
Following the discussion, have students list questions about what they would like to find out from watching the video. Write the questions on the board and remind the students to pay close attention to find as many answers as possible. Preview the time line activity in "After Viewing" below, so students can plan ahead.

While Viewing American Presidents
Directions: Take specific notes on sections that provide answers to the questions below, and any others your class has posed.

1. When and where was Warren G. Harding born? What values from his home state influenced him?

2. What was his academic background?

3. Did he have any military involvement?

4. What jobs did have before he was elected President?

5. What were his noteworthy personality traits, skills, likes and dislikes?

6. What role did his wife place as the first lady?

7. What were his hobbies?

8. Did he have any children? Who were his friends?

9. How was he perceived by the American public?

10. What principles did he campaign on in his run for the presidency? Note especially his views on the following:


The role of government in citizens' lives

The role of the U.S. in the world Business


Civil rights

Women's rights

After Viewing American Presidents
Part 1

Group students into teams of three and have them create a time line. The time line should include important events in President Harding's life, illustrations and accompanying explanations, and social and historical context.

Divide student responsibilities within the groups: one student can research additional details on the important events, one student can make connections to future and past events in his life and one student can research the social and historical context. A good time line will depict the progression of events in President Harding's life, and raise and answer questions about how one life event had an impact on the next. (For example, how did his wife help advance his newspaper business?)

Part 2
Instruct students to brainstorm in their groups, focusing on the impact Warren G. Harding's presidency had on the nation. The analysis should be incorporated into the time line.

Part 3
Have students present their work to the class, allowing time for other student groups to ask questions and give feedback.

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