For years, Nan Britton suffered the contempt of a presidential family. She not only claimed to have had sex with President Warren G. Harding in a White House closet, but also to have given birth to his love child.
Harding was known for a couple affairs, his rather naughty letters, and for being a romantic who adored women. But his family didn’t believe he’d fathered a love child — they thought he’d been made sterile by a case of the mumps, the New York Times reported.
But the DNA doesn’t lie. After decades, his mistress has finally been redeemed, her supposed lies confirmed by science. The daughter she claimed they conceived in his Senate office, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, Vanity Fair noted, was indeed his.
“It’s sort of Shakespearean and operatic,” observed his grand-nephew Peter, who wanted the DNA test. “This story hangs over the whole presidential history because it was an unsolved mystery.”
It’s a mystery no longer, and that’s a relief. Elizabeth’s grandson, James Blaesing, said the Brittons were followed and their home broken into in an attempt to discredit her. While he was “growing up in school, they belittled (them).”
This has been an enduring drama for nearly a century, and Warren’s descendents aren’t entirely convinced — after all, they’ve denied Nan and her child as one of their own for a long time. As for his mistress’ descendents, they’re not happy that it’s taken so long to be vindicated.
What is certain is Britton’s devotion. She was much younger than Harding, an acquaintance of her father — his sister was also her teacher. She was infatuated, affixing his pictures on her bedroom wall. In 1917, when she was 20, they began a sexual relationship that endured for six-and-a-half years.
By 1919, their little girl was born, whom Warren never met but supported. They continued their love affair while he was in office, and when he died in 1923, she was devastated. Matters worsened when she realized she’d no longer be supported financially.
The Hardings cut her off. So she wrote a book, The President’s Daughter, in 1927. It didn’t go well.
Despite her bad reputation — she was called a pervert and degenerate because of her affair — her grandson insists it was true romance.
“She loved him until the day she died. When she talked about him, she would get the biggest smile on her face. She just loved this guy. He was everything.”
[Photos Courtesy National Archive, Hulton Archives / Getty Images]