HARDING, Warren G. (1865-1923), President. Typed letter signed ("Warren G Harding") as President, to George W. Aldridge, Washington, 22 August 1921. 1 page, large 8vo, on White House stationery, integral blank, White House envelope. [With:] Autograph note signed ("Warren G Harding") as President, to Aldridge, [Washington], n.d. 1 page, 2¼ x 3¾ in., on a Presidential calling card.
FROM THE WHITE HOUSE: THE PRESIDENT RECOMMENDS NAN BRITTON, HIS YOUNG MISTRESS, FOR A JOB.
An important letter revealingly documenting one of the most famous extramarital affairs in U.S. Presidential history. Harding, the former newspaperman from Marion, Ohio, was easy-going, friendly and genuinely liked people, but demonstrated a tendency to extramarital affairs. His first extramarital affair began in 1905 with Carrie Phillips, the wife of a longtime friend, and only came to light in the 1960s. Their intimate relationship lasted for fifteen years. In 1917, while Harding was still seeing Mrs. Phillips, he initiated a new relationship with Nan Britton, the daughter of a Marion doctor whom he had befriended. Britton, who was thirty years younger than Harding, had developed a crush upon the Senator and after graduating from a secretarial school in 1917, sought Harding's aid in obtaining a job. He successfully secured a stenographer's position for her at U.S. Steel and the affair blossomed.
Nan bore a daughter, born in October 1919, and although he never met his illigitimate child, Harding sent funds for here support via Secret Service agents. Hardings' and Nans' relationship continued after he assumed the presidency in March 1921. In this letter, Harding recommends Nan, who he states "has the reputation of being a very excellent stenographer" to George Aldridge, Collector of the Port of New York. Attempting to avoid suspicion, Harding falsely claims that she is the daughter of a former newspaper employee: "The other day I gave a card of introduction to Miss Britton ... My interest in her is founded upon the fact that her father, now deceased, was at one time a correspondent on my newspaper at Marion and I feel some obligations to be helpful to her." Harding notes that he would give her a job in Washington but, "she is averse to living in the capital city and very much desires to be permanently placed in New York." On the card Harding has written, "My Dear Aldridge, This will be presented by Miss Britton."
Nan and the President occasionally met in the White House, "at times making love in a 25 square foot closet near Harding's office" (DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, p. 435). Harding's term in office and thus their affair was cut short on August 2nd, 1923 when he suffered a fatal embolism. Nan would eventually expose the entire affair in her book The President's Daughter, which became a best seller.