Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.

Warren G. Harding's administration has been regarded as a failure by most historians -- rife with corruption, incompetence and scandal. The Post's obituary writer thought otherwise, however, lauding Harding as a pillar of the presidency when he died of a stroke, 2A years into his term. An excerpt from The Post of Aug. 3, 1923:

By George Rothwell Brown

President Harding was 58 years old. He was born on election day, November 2, 1865. Thus the anniversary of his birth was the anniversary of his election to the Presidency.

His career, in many respects, was unparalleled in the history of American politics. He rose to the highest office in the land from a middle Western farm and brought to the White House the noblest traditions of the great American struggle in the conquest of the wilderness. Of early colonial ancestry, he was an American of the most splendid type this country has produced, his forebears having sprung from that stock which gave to the United States Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln.

Mr. Harding, born in a later era, added to the rugged characteristics of the pioneer stock the cultural influences of his generation. He was carefully educated and trained for the life of statesmanship which marked his later years. As lieutenant governor of his native State -- Ohio -- and as senator of the United States, he brought to the Presidency in the critical days of 1921 precisely those qualities of mind and habit demanded of a man called to his high office.

No president in recent years had entered the White House better prepared than was Mr. Harding for the difficulties which beset him on every side, conditions growing out of the world war, the like of which no predecessor had ever been called upon to face. His term of service in the Senate during the war, where he served upon the most important committees, including that of foreign relations, gave to him a complete familiarity with and a remarkable grasp of all the great problems of readjustment which followed the reaction which set in with the coming of peace.

In the Chicago convention in 1920, where he was nominated for the Presidency, all of the factors, psychological as well as geographical, pointed to him as the one man in the Republican party best fitted for the Presidency, and he was nominated and triumphantly elected by the largest majority ever polled by any candidate for the office, in consequence of circumstances which made not only his party but the country turn to him instinctively for leadership in a great crisis. Thus he became the first man in American history ever to go directly from the United States Senate to the White House, and this he did, not because of the political influence of his senatorial colleagues, for that very largely was against him, but because the country for two years had been looking to the Senate for leadership and Senator Harding, above all senators of his party, embodied all requisites for successful leadership in a higher station.

The broadening of his environment, his years spent at Columbus and in Washington, never warped his mind or impaired his simple contacts with the plain people, and the broad sympathies of his life, which became a part of his nature during the period when he was a small town editor, were a never failing source of inspiration to him when, as President, he was called upon to deal as a national statesmen, in the national field, with the tremendous, everyday problems of the average man.

This series is available at www.washingtonpost.com