US Pres­i­dent Hard­ing had child out of wed­lock

The China Post - - LIFE -

First, DNA test­ing con­firmed Thomas Jef­fer­son had a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with his slave Sally Hem­ings. Now it’s rewrit­ing another chap­ter in U. S. pres­i­den­tial history, this one from the Roar­ing ’ 20s.

Ge­netic anal­y­sis has proved that Pres­i­dent War­ren G. Hard­ing fa­thered a child out of wed­lock with long- ru­mored mistress Nan Brit­ton, ac­cord­ing to Ances­tryDNA, a ge­netic test­ing firm.

Brit­ton set off a Jazz Age scan­dal when she went public with her tale of for­bid­den love in the White House, boldly pub­lish­ing her story in a 1927 best- selling memoir, “The Pres­i­dent’s Daugh­ter.” But his­to­ri­ans long ques­tioned her claims, and Hard­ing de­fend­ers vil­i­fied her as a liar for nearly 90 years.

Based on DNA from Brit­ton’s grand­son and de­scen­dants of Hard­ing, the re­sults are 99.9 per­cent cer­tain, An­ces­try said. The find­ings were first re­ported Thurs­day by The New York Times.

The child born of their union, El­iz­a­beth Ann Blaesing, was the only known off­spring of the 29th pres­i­dent. She died in 2005. Brit­ton died in 1991.

James Blaesing, 65, who grew up hear­ing the story of his grand­fa­ther, the pres­i­dent, from Brit­ton, his grand­mother, said he has al­ways wanted to prove she was telling the truth. He was de­lighted by the DNA re­sults.

“You know what this is? It’s a love story,” he said of his grand­par­ents. “It was true love, es­pe­cially on her side, and I know he felt the same way. And he got trapped.”

Hard­ing was a heart­throb U. S. sen­a­tor from Ohio when the af­fair be­gan. The re­la­tion­ship con­tin­ued when Hard­ing was pres­i­dent, with Brit­ton later writ­ing of how they made love in a White House coat closet. It ended with Hard­ing’s sud­den death dur­ing his pres­i­dency in 1923.

Hard­ing’s fam­ily long main­tained that Brit­ton’s book was a lie or a child­hood fan­tasy or was per­haps dreamed up by Demo­cratic op­po­nents of the Repub­li­can pres­i­dent. Some peo­ple main­tained that Hard­ing was ster­ile be­cause he had mumps as a child.

Blaesing said that if his mother and grand­mother were alive to­day, they would be pleased.

“My grand­mother — right now she has the big­gest smile on her face,” he said. “She is so happy that this is out there.”

Ances­tryDNA spokesman Stephen Baloglu said the Hard­ing story shows the power of DNA in rewrit­ing history.

“The fam­ily con­nec­tion is de­fin­i­tive,” he said. “We were happy to help the Hard­ing fam­ily mem­bers solve this long­stand­ing fam­ily mys­tery.”


In this Oct. 28, 1931 file photo, Nan Brit­ton poses with her daugh­ter, El­iz­a­beth Ann Brit­ton, 12, in Toledo, Ohio. DNA test­ing is rewrit­ing a chap­ter in pres­i­den­tial history, this one from the Roar­ing ’20s. Ances­tryDNA, a di­vi­sion of An­ces­, says ge­netic anal­y­sis has con­firmed U.S. Pres­i­dent War­ren G. Hard­ing fa­thered a child out of wed­lock with his long-ru­mored mistress Nan Brit­ton. She set off a scan­dal when she went public nearly 90 years ago with her tale of for­bid­den love in the White House.

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