Harding graduated from Ohio Central College in 1882 at the age of 16. He taught school, seold insurance and studied law until he convinced his father to acquire a stake in the Marion Star newspaper. During the 1884 presidential election, Harding became interested in politics, and in 1886, when he took control of the paper, turned it into a clarion for the Republican party. Harding began his political career with his election to the Ohio Senate from 1900-1904. In 1903, he was elected lieutenant governor, and his political skills matured. A split in the Republican Party led to his defeat in his campaign for governor in 1910. He remained active in Republican politics and was selected to give the nominating speech for President Taft at the party's convention in 1912. He won the 1914 Republican primary election as a candidate for the US Senate, and he was elected by a majority of 100,000 for the term 1915-1921. He had an honorable record in the Senate, broadening his knowledge of foreign affairs while serving as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. In 1916 he presided as chairman of the Republican national convention in Chicago, and delivered the keynote address. Nominated for president in the 1920 election, Harding won with 60% of the vote. During his tenure, relations with former adversaries were improved, including separate peace treaties with Germany, Austria and Hungary; he secured the treaties of the Washington Conference on the Limitation of Armaments in 1921 and 1922 and advanced entry of the US into the World Court. Domestic policy successes to enhance prosperity included lowering taxes, reducing the national debt by $26 billion, and promoting economy in government by creating the Department of the Budget and balancing the budget. (He wanted more business practice in government and less government interference in the nation's businesses.).
In June 1923, desiring to get out and meet the American people, Harding and his wife undertook a train trip across the continent to Alaska. The trip ended in his untimely death after a heart attack, on August 2, 1923, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. A grief-stricken nation marked the progress of the funeral train from California to Washington. Harding was succeeded by Vice-president Coolidge.