Their relationship began in 1905 — she was the wife of Harding’s longtime friend, James Phillips. Over the course of their relationship, the two exchanged hundreds of letters, and Harding minced no words in expressing his affection for her.
“I love you more than all the world and have no hope of reward on earth or hereafter, so precious as that in your dear arms, in your thrilling lips, in your matchless breasts, in your incomparable embrace,” reads a letter Harding wrote on Dec. 24, 1910.
At times, the letters are more raunchy. The affair ended when Harding became president and Phillips threatened to release their correspondence to the public.
Harding was a Republican from Ohio who served as President from 1921 to 1923 before dying suddenly in office.
He wasn’t the most popular president: his administration was marked with issues like the Teapot Dome scandal, he was unpopular in polls and once even said he was “not fit for this office and should never have been here.” Supporters point to Harding’s economic efforts in saving the economy from depression after World War I.
Phillips died in 1963, when it was discovered by a lawyer that she had kept the entirety of her steamy back-and-forth with Harding. The lawyer was poised to make the collection available for an author working on a Harding biography until the president’s nephew found about the letters and sued to keep them out of his hands in order to preserve Harding’s image.
The nephew eventually purchased the letters and donated them to the Library of Congress, provided they weren’t released until July 29, 2014, 50 years from when the judge closed them.