Harding != Hoover

The Telegraph has a generally good column comparing George W. Bush to Harry Truman, as presidents who are not well-liked as they leave office but to whom history will be kinder.  It makes a strange mistake though, referring to “President Harding, the disastrous president of the Great Depression.”

Warren Harding died in office on August 2, 1923.  The Depression is generally regarded to have begun with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929.  President Harding campaigned on a “return to normalcy” after Woodrow Wilson’s excesses during the First World War, and delivered on that promise, for which we should all be grateful.  However, he was plagued by scandal and accomplished little else before his untimely death.  He was succeeded by Calvin Coolidge, who is now generally well-regarded (more so by conservatives than liberals).  Coolidge was then succeeded by Herbert Hoover (of whom Coolidge did not approve), and it was Hoover who was president at the start of the Great Depression.

The Telegraph is a British paper, of course, but one still might hope that they could get the basic facts of American history straight in a historical retrospective column.

POSTSCRIPT: The degree to which we needed a “return to normalcy” after the Wilson administration is not well-known any more, but it should be.  Chapter 3 of Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is all about it.

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