When Warren G. Harding was elected president in 1920, he brought to Washington some of his political chums from Ohio. They played poker; they sold illegal liquor permits, pardons and paroles. They sold fixes in the Justice Department and transported contraband across state lines. They sold naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome and sheets out of Army warehouses. The Ohio Gang, an historical entertainment peopled with the characters of the day, follows Harding and his cronies from their Ohio childhoods to the smoke-filled rooms of the Republican convention and on to the White House. We meet Henry Daugherty, the attorney general with the disconcerting eyes; Jess Smith, tall and pigeon-toed; Nan Britton, the teenage girl who fell in love with Harding's campaign posters and who later became his mistress and mother to his illegitimate daughter; and America's first lady, the Duchess. Following the antics of the president and his administration, The Ohio Gang concludes with Harding's whistle-stop tour of the country-his final, despairing attempt to keep his presidency from coming undone.
An entertaining and immensely readable encapsulation of democracy American-style, The Ohio Gang is an historical tour de force in which the presidency is seen as a traveling medicine show.
Charles L. Mee, Jr. is the author of numerous books, including Meeting at Potsdam and A Visit to Haldeman and Other States of Mind. A celebrated playwright, he is the recipient of a lifetime achievement award in drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and two OBIE awards. He lives in New York City.