Warren G. Harding, 29th President of the United States, has been caught in nearly century old extramarital affair in which he code named his penis “Jerry.”
The affair came to light through a string of explicit letters published Monday by the New York Times. The correspondence, which was exchanged between Harding and his mistress, Carrie Fulton Phillips, dates from 1910 to 1920.
Harding’s affair occurred during his tenure both as lieutenant Governor of Ohio and as U.S. Senator for Ohio. The letters stopped just before Harding assumed the presidency in 1921.
There are over 100 letters which document Harding’s love for, and, more often, his sexual fantasies towards Phillips.
In one letter, dated to March 12, 1915, Harding refers to the stealthily coded “Jerry”, writing:
‘Jerry — you recall Jerry… — came in while I was pondering your notes in glad reflection, and we talked about it…He told me to say that you are the best and darlingest in the world, and if he could have but one wish, it would be to be held in your darling embrace and be thrilled by your pink lips that convey the surpassing rapture of human touch and the unspeakable joy of love’s surpassing embrace.’
Another letter from September 15, 1913, described Harding’s ardent longing to be reunited with his lover.
‘Honestly, I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief untilI take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing breasts. Oh, Carrie!…Wouldn’t you like to get sopping wet out on Superior — not the lake — for the joy of fevered fondling and melting kisses? Wouldn’t you like to make the suspected occupant of the next room jealous of the joys he could not know, as we did in morning communion at Richmond?’
On August 20th, 1918, Harding invited Phillips to a not-so-subtle gathering.
‘Wish I could take you to Mount Jerry. Wonderful spot. Not in the geographies but a heavenly place, and I have seen some passing views there and reveled in them. Gee! How I wish you might be along.’
Harding clearly spared no emotion in his letters, declaring he loved Carrie “more than all the world and [had] no hope of reward on earth or hereafter, so precious as that in [her] dear arms.”
The correspondences have remained sealed until now due to efforts by the Harding family to salvage the reputation of their often-criticised ancestor. They were locked in a closet by Phillips herself for over 35 years, until they were discovered by her lawyer after her death.
In 1964, historian Francis Russell obtained and attempted to publish the letters. However, Russell was quickly thwarted by the Harding family, who sued to keep them private.
The Times reports that “to the dismay of many historians, a settlement was reached in which the Harding family, who owned the copyright to the letters, agreed to donate them to the Library of Congress in return for a guarantee they remain sealed for 50 years.”
The seal, though, is almost up. On July 29th, the Library of Congress will make the letters fully accessible to the public.
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