Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Schneider, Robert W.||Owens, Kenneth N.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of History


Harding; Warren G. (Warren Gamaliel); 1865-1923; American newspapers--Illinois--Chicago; United States--Politics and government--1921-1923


Historians have asserted that the American people expressed little indignation when it was revealed that the Presidency of Warren G. Harding represented one of the most corrupt and inefficient administrations since that of Ulysses S. Grant. The purpose of this study is to determine if this lack of indignation was found in the daily newspapers of Chicago, Illinois. By examining the news treatment accorded the major events of the Harding administration by four Chicago newspapers, two Democratic and two Republican, the editorial climate of Chicago was established. After a consideration of the death of Harding, the kind of news treatment given the many aspects of the subsequent investigations of rampant corruption was examined. The study focused primarily upon the opinions of each newspaper as stated on the editorial pages, although the location, size, and nature of various news stories were also considered. In addition, the kind of news most prominently featured by each newspaper was noted in an attempt to ascertain the interests of Chicago’s reading public. Fourteen major events, from the nomination of Harding in 1920 to the release of Albert B. Fall in 1932, were selected in order to get a cross section of editorial opinion. The events included a variety of social, political, and human interest incidents and were chosen because of their diversity and importance. The conclusion is that the optimistic editors of Chicago's newspapers during the Harding-Coolidge-Hoover era refused to allow their spirits to be dampened by the discovery of political dishonesty at the federal level. Only one newspaper expressed anything like genuine indignation which lasted only a few short weeks. These newspapers did, of course, treat the scandals as sensationally as they treated murders and divorces, But, as in the news of these murders and divorces, editorial interest in the political scandals waned after a few months. Although the findings of the senatorial investigating committee became increasingly startling, the four Chicago newspapers relegated political scandal news to back pages or to obscure comers of page one. And, perhaps most importantly, newspaper editors never mentioned that perhaps this federal corruption had been due to Warren G, Harding's failure to keep close watch on officials within his administration. One newspaper, after watching the course of the investigations for several months, turned its fire upon those who were conducting the investigations, accusing them of being unfair and using sensational methods. The newspapers of Chicago, then, like the American public in general, registered only fleeting and superficial concern with the scandals at Washington.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 54 pages




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