Home  »  Respectfully Quoted  »  Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865–1923)

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

NUMBER: 1999
AUTHOR: Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865–1923)
QUOTATION: Standing in this presence, mindful of the solemnity of this occasion, feeling the emotions which no one may know until he senses the great weight of responsibility for himself, I must utter my belief in the divine inspiration of the founding fathers.
ATTRIBUTION: President WARREN G. HARDING, inaugural address, March 4, 1921.—Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington, 1789, to Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969, p. 207 (1969). House Doc. 91–142.

Harding is credited with originating the phrase founding fathers. Senator Harding’s remarks before the Sons and Daughters of the Revolution, Washington, D.C., February 22, 1918, included this sentence: “It is good to meet and drink at the fountains of wisdom inherited from the founding fathers of the Republic.”—Address on Washington’s Birthday, p. 3 (1918). Senate Doc. 65–180. He also used the phrase in his speech on being officially notified of his nomination for the presidency, Marion, Ohio, July 22, 1920.

According to “Of Deathless Remarks…,” American Heritage, June 1970, p. 57, his 1918 remarks were “the first use of the phrase that the combined efforts of the experts at the Library of Congress have been able to find.”