The Republican Party nominated Harding as its presidential candidate for the 1920 election while he was still in the Senate. Harding's campaign promised a return to "normalcy," rejecting Theodore Roosevelt's activity and Woodrow Wilson's idealism. He also promised to keep the United States out of World War I.
Harding died before the election, but his vice-president, Calvin Coolidge, became president after only one term. Coolidge did not seek office again, instead choosing to retire to farm life in Massachusetts. His death in 1924 left the presidency open yet again. This time, Congress elected Herbert Hoover from California to be the third president of the United State.
Hoover had no political experience when he took office in 1929, but he quickly gained a reputation for himself as an honest man who would never lie or break his promises. In addition to being president, he was also the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at this time. The economy suffered greatly during Hoover's administration due to the Great Depression that struck around the world right after he left office in 1933. However, it did improve somewhat during the years 1934-1937.
In 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president. A former New York governor and senator, Roosevelt brought a new level of activism to the White House.
In the 1920 presidential election, Republican contender Warren G. Harding campaigned on a "return to normality," which meant a return to conservative ideals and a rejection of President Wilson's internationalism. The phrase was first used by Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, who argued that America needed a president who would "get us out of the current of world politics and back to our own national life."
Harding used the phrase in several speeches during his campaign. On October 31, 1916, he told a crowd in Canton, Ohio: "The country wants to get back to business. It is tired of war and revolution. It wants to go forward not back. It wants a return to normalcy." In another speech two months later in Oskaloosa, Iowa, he said: "We want to see this country returned to normalcy. We want to see the people of this country once more engaged in their ordinary occupations, pursuing their customary pleasures."
Harding won the election with 282 votes to Democrat Woodrow Wilson's 268 votes. He took office in March 1921.
Harding ran on a platform of "return to normality," which he defined as a return to conservative principles and a rejection of President Wilson's internationalism. As President Harding's Secretary of the Treasury, he worked to spur economic development by cutting government expenditure and raising taxes. He also sought to reduce crime by advocating laws that would give law enforcement officials greater power to search and seize property.
His program was successful in reducing government spending and taxes, but not enough to avoid an economic crisis. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 caused public confidence in the economy to collapse, and President Hoover refused to run for another term. With no one else running, Ohio governor John R. Kasich was chosen by his colleagues to be their candidate. He won the election in a landslide, taking 49 of the 50 states.
As President, Kasich continued most of President Harding's policies, such as the reduction in government expenditure and the increase in taxes. However, unlike President Harding who owned a lot of real estate, Governor Kasich was more concerned with improving education at state universities and colleges (SUNYs). He also passed legislation allowing women to serve as jurors in some cases. Finally, he pushed for laws that would protect workers' rights, including a minimum wage law and restrictions on child labor.