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President Warren Harding's love letters with mistress to go on public display
Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Hulton Archive / Getty Images

A treasure trove of love letters between President Warren Harding and his mistress Carrie Phillips, during a relationship that took place in the years before he was elected president, is set to go on public display from the Library of Congress, The Washington Post reports.

The collection will be open to the public, and posted on the internet, July 29. The 900 pages of often steamy correspondence, which were kept by Phillips, were bequeathed by the Harding family to the library in 1964 — on the condition that they be kept sealed for 50 years.

On Jan. 2, 1913, Harding wrote to Phillips: "I have been thinking about all those letters you have."

"I think you [should] have a fire, chuck 'em! Do. You must. If there is one impassioned one that appeals to you, keep it... [but] please, chuck the extra pictures, letters, and verses. They are too inflammable to keep."

Phillips did not heed those instructions. As for Harding himself, by Sept. 15, 1913, he was writing her yet another impassioned letter recalling one of their meetings:

"I do not know what inspired you, but you... resurrected me, and set me aflame with the fullness of your beauty and the fire of your desire... imprisoned me in your embrace and gave me transport — God! My breath quickens to recall it."

The collection has also previously been seen by Ohio attorney and author James Robenalt. He was given access to an extra, bootlegged microfilm copy at a local historical society, while researching a book on Harding several years ago. "When I first read these, I felt like a voyeur," Robenalt told The Post. "I shouldn’t be reading this. I should look the other way."

- - Eric Kleefeld
 
 
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