Until her dying day, Nan Britton claimed that her daughter was the product of a love affair with President Warren G. Harding. Nearly 100 years after this tryst began, Britton has been vindicated. This week, her long-dismissed claims of paternity were confirmed by DNA testing that proved Harding’s descendants and Britton’s daughter’s children were second cousins.
This revelation lends credence to a book that scandalized the country way back when. In 1927, four years after Harding’s untimely death, Britton published her autobiography: The President’s Daughter. Multiple publishers had refused her, but her persistence paid off—the titillating details of her presidential affair became a bestseller. Britton, who’d been shunned by the Harding family for financial support in the upbringing of her child, made her exposé into a rallying cry for children born of wedlock.
Her tale and its smooth-talking characters are too juicy to be forgotten with time. Britton grew up in Marion, Ohio, where Harding’s family ran the local newspaper. She fell in love with Warren G. Harding, a local politician, at age 14. He was 45. She was taught high school English by his sister as he was in the midst of a campaign for office. Britton’s early pursuit of the man who’d become president was, frankly, quite creepy.