DNA testing has confirmed that President Warren G. Harding fathered a love child, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing, with a woman named Nan Britton nearly 100 years ago.
"The tests have solved one of the enduring mysteries of presidential history and offer new insights into the secret life of America’s 29th president," The New York Times reported
Britton, whose father was friends with Harding, first claimed that her daughter was sired by none other than the president in a 1927 autobiography, "The President’s Daughter." She alleged a six-year affair with the president, which once found them together in a White House coat closet.
Britton was widely denounced as a liar and a pervert after the publication of the book.
"Nan Britton was someone who had to live through a lot of attacks . . . and I think her story was a lot like Monica Lewinsky because there was a real shaming process," said Harding historian James Robenalt, according to ABC News
. "She was just picking up for her daughter, who we now know was Harding’s daughter, and she was just viciously attacked for it."
Dr. Peter Harding, a grandnephew of the president who helped instigate the DNA testing, said the saga was "sort of Shakespearean and operatic."
"This story hangs over the whole presidential history because it was an unsolved mystery," he added.
Dr. Harding and cousin Abigail Harding decided to pursue DNA testing after meeting James Blaesing, now confirmed as Britton and the president's grandson.
AncestryDNA, a division of Ancestry.com, found that Blaesing was a second cousin to Peter and Abigail Harding, which in turn confirmed Elizabeth Ann Blaesing was Harding's biological daughter.
"The technology that we’re using is at a level of specificity that there’s no need to do more DNA testing. This is the definitive answer," said Stephen Baloglu, an executive at Ancestry.
Before the testing, The Library of Congress released just last year Harding’s love letters with another mistress, Carrie Phillips.
Warren Gamaliel Harding was an Ohio newspaper publisher before winning a Senate seat in 1914, and winning the presidency in 1920. He died during his term, in 1923, at the age of 57. Britton died at age 94 in 1991.
Harding was married to Florence Mabel Harding (née Kling), but the couple had no children together. She had one child from a previous marriage.
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