The Grandson of Warren G. Harding's Mistress Wants to Prove His Presidential Lineage—By Exhuming Harding's Body

Warren G. Harding looking dapper in June 1920.
Warren G. Harding looking dapper in June 1920.
National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division // No Known Restrictions on Publication

In 1923, just two years into his presidential term, Warren G. Harding died of a heart attack, leaving behind a wife, a mistress, and a secret daughter born by said mistress. Now Harding's grandson, James Blaesing, is petitioning an Ohio court to exhume Harding’s body in order to prove his relation to the 29th president beyond all doubt.

As The Associated Press reports, Blaesing’s connection to the former president isn’t currently in question. In 2011, Harding’s grandnephew Peter Harding and grandniece Abigail Harding initiated DNA testing with Blaesing to substantiate the long-held claims that Harding—who was thought to have been infertile—had fathered a daughter with his lover, Nan Britton. Ancestry.com’s DNA testing unit, AncestryDNA, confirmed that Peter and Abigail are indeed Blaesing’s second cousins in 2015, which supposedly settled the matter. For this reason, Harding’s other relatives are opposing Blaesing’s request to exhume their shared ancestor.

“Sadly, widespread, public recognition and acceptance by the descendants, historians, and biographers (and Mr. Blaesing himself) that Mr. Blaesing is President Harding’s grandson is not enough for him,” members of the family explained in a court document.

Although Blaesing’s lineage is already considered fact, he feels that his branch of the family is still relegated to the periphery of Harding’s legacy. To celebrate this year’s 100th anniversary of Harding’s election, the town of Marion, Ohio—where Harding lived before his presidency—is planning to unveil a new museum in his honor. It will reportedly make mention of Blaesing’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, but he hasn’t been asked to contribute information or artifacts to the exhibit.

“I did the test and we brought it to the public in 2015. It’s now 2020 and no one has asked me one thing,” Blaesing told The Associated Press. “I’m not a part of anything. Nothing. My brothers, myself, no one. We’re invisible. They’re treating us just like they treated my grandmother.”

In 1927, Britton wrote a memoir about her relationship with Harding titled The President’s Daughter, which she published in large part because Harding had left her with no financial support when he died. Not only did the account scandalize the entire country, but Britton and her family suffered years of ill will and intimidation because of it. As Blaesing told The New York Times, people even burglarized their home looking for evidence to poke holes in the story.

Before Blaesing’s plans can go any further, Ohio History Connection—the organization responsible for Harding’s tomb and former home—would need experts to confirm that it’s even possible to exhume and rebury the body without ruining its white marble tomb. In other words, it could still be a while before Harding rises again.

[h/t The Associated Press]

A New Ruth Bader Ginsburg Bobblehead Is Available for Pre-Order

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum

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The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a devout champion for feminism and civil rights, and her influence stretched from the halls of the Supreme Court to the forefront of popular culture, where she affectionately became known as the Notorious RBG. Though there are plenty of public tributes planned for Ginsburg in the wake of her passing, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum has a new RBG bobblehead ($25) available for pre-order so you can honor her in your own home.

There are two versions of the bobblehead available, one of Ginsburg smiling and another with a more serious expression. Not only do the bobbleheads feature her in her Supreme Court black robe, but eagle-eyed fans will see she is wearing one for her iconic coded collars and her classic earrings.

RBG is far from the only American icon bobblehead that the Hall of Fame store has produced in such minute detail. They also have bobbleheads of Abraham Lincoln ($30), Theodore Roosevelt ($30), Alexander Hamilton ($30), and dozens of others.

For more information on the RBG bobblehead, head here. Shipments will hopefully be sent out by December 2020 while supplies last.

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The Library of Congress Needs Help Transcribing More Than 20,000 Letters Written to Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt would want you to transcribe these letters.
Theodore Roosevelt would want you to transcribe these letters.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division // No Known Restrictions on Publication

With some historical figures, the best we can do is speculate about their innermost thoughts and imagine what their lives might really have been like. With Theodore Roosevelt, we don’t have to. In addition to a number of books, the 26th U.S. president wrote speeches, editorials, diary entries, and letters that document virtually every aspect of his self-proclaimed strenuous life both in and out of the Oval Office.

When it comes to letters, however, only reading those written by Roosevelt can sometimes be like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. Fortunately, the Library of Congress possesses tens of thousands of letters written to Roosevelt, too—and they need your help transcribing them.

The collection includes correspondence from various phases of his career, covering his time as a Rough Rider in the Spanish-American War; his stint as William McKinley’s vice president (and abrupt ascent to the presidency when McKinley was assassinated); his own campaign and two-term presidency; and his work as a conservationist. Overall, the letters reveal the sheer volume of requests Roosevelt got, from social engagements to political appointments and everything in between. In January 1902, for example, Secretary of State John Hay wrote to Roosevelt (then president) on behalf of someone who “[wanted] to be a Secretary to our Special Embassy in London.” A little over a week later, The Gridiron Club “[requested] the pleasure of the company of The President of the United States at dinner” that weekend at the Arlington Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Of more than 55,000 documents in the digital archive, about 12,000 have already been transcribed, and nearly 14,000 need to be reviewed. There are also roughly 24,000 pages that still have yet to be touched at all. If you’d like to join the effort, you can start transcribing here.