Marion is the birthplace of Warren Gamaliel Harding, the 29th president of the United States. The first year we got together, we arranged to meet first at the Harding Memorial. The memorial-- a white, marble wedding cake--resembles the Jefferson Memorial, only it seems larger and grander. We wondered about this. Why such a grandiose memorial for such an allegedly mediocre president? Wasn't he supposedly the "worst president ever"?
Another former resident of Marion, John W. Dean--who was involved in a little scandal of his own known as Watergate--attempted to show in his biography* of Harding that he wasn't that bad. Certainly others have been vying for the dishonor of being the "worst president ever" since Harding's day. Who knows? By the end of the 21st century, historians may well have nominated someone else as "the worst president ever."
John W. Dean, by the way, is a graduate of the College of Wooster, as are Mary Jane, my husband and I. According to Dean, William E. Chancellor, a racist professor at our beloved alma mater, tried to derail Harding's nomination by circulating a flyer stating that Harding had black ancestry. Although Chancellor's scandal sheet turned up at the 1920 Chicago convention, it was ignored. This did not stop the Democrats of that day from distributing handbills containing Chancellor's so-called "research" during the campaign. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
*John W. Dean, Warren G. Harding (New York, Henry Holt and Company, 2004)