Ray Osborne's series on Presidential visits to Florida continues with the visits of Warren Harding. This President loved vacationing in the Sunshine State.
An examination of his visits reveals a President who values his leisure activities with golf, fishing and being just a good ole' boy.
President Warren Harding spent a considerable amount of time in Merritt Island and Daytona prior to his Presidency. The historic newspaper Cocoa Tribune and Indian River Advocate have accounts of his visits to these areas. President Harding was an avid golfer and sports fisherman, and would often sail aboard a luxurious vessel into the area. The Indian River Advocate reported on February 11, 1921 that he arrived onboard a boat called the Victoria. However it got stuck in Mosquito Inlet and wallowed in the mud the better part of two days. At one point President Harding got out of the vessel and stretched his legs in Titusville at the recently built Gulf Refining company wharf, He he shook hands with a hundred or more of his Titusville constituents. He took a ride in a "for hire' Ford with its driver and bought some mullet from a local fisherman.
In March 1923, The President and First Lady returned to Florida for a short vacation. The President was to get in a round of golf in Rockledge and some other choice golf courses in Florida. Both the President and the First Lady were in a weakened physical condition. Mrs. Harding had narrowly escaped death from nephritis in October 1922 and the President's health was causing concern to his doctors. Breathing difficulties made it impossible for him to lie flat in bed at night and he complained of chest pains and shortness of breath. Playing golf with his aide, Colonel Edmund Starling, President Harding complained, 'Why, after playing eleven or twelve holes do I drag my feet and feel so tired: To Starling's suggestion that he should play fewer holes in future, Harding retorted, "Hell if I can't play eighteen holes I won't play at all."
The Cocoa Tribune reported President Harding’s arrival on beautiful houseboat called "Pioneer" on March 8, 1923. At a gathering of local businesses and city officials, Cocoa Beach real estate developer Gus Edwards presented the President and Mrs. Harding with a deed for an ocean-front lot at Cocoa Beach, inviting them to make their home when President Harding retires from the most important job in the US.
Unfortunately President Harding was never able to take him up on this offer as he died during his administration that same year.
Visit the President Harding's Oceanfront Lot Historical-Geocache