First Lady: 1921 to 1923
Wife of President Warren G. Harding
Born: August 15, 1860 Died: November 21, 1924
Florence Kling was born in Marion, Ohio. Her father, Amos, owned a hardware store in Marion, and as the town grew, became wealthy. Florence, like her father, was very aggressive and strong willed. That is why at a young age she met and eloped with a man named Henry De Wolfe, this marriage being in defiance of her father. She had a son by Henry, a Marshall Eugene De Wolfe. One day while living in Galion, Ohio, her husband Henry disappeared. Finally she returned to Marion, Ohio, where she began teaching music, and became very successful. As a result of her success, she made peace with her father. Her son, Marshall, grew to adulthood, married, but died before his mother would become First Lady.
Having divorced her missing husband, at age thirty, she married again, to Warren Gamaliel Harding on July 8, 1891. Her father, once again, disapproved.
Harding was successful, as he had turned a bankrupt newspaper, "The Marion Star," into a success. Florence also worked for the "Star" as business manager. Harding then entered politics, first as Lt. Governor of Ohio and many years later as a U.S. Senator. In 1921, Harding was elected President. Just prior to entering the White House, Florence's health began to deteriorate. Upon entering the White House, through her bad health, she still managed to always stay by her husband's side and supported him fully. At her husband's poker parties she would act as hostess, serving them liquor, acting in defiance to prohibition.
Florence was present with her husband on his speaking tour when he died in 1923. She disallowed an autopsy because of her spiritual beliefs. Florence survived only a short while longer, dying on November 21, 1924.
Copyright© John T. Marck. All Rights Reserved. This article and their accompanying pictures, photographs, and line art, may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author.
From The First Ladies of the United States by John T. Marck.