Elizabeth Ann Blaesing
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Elizabeth Ann Britton Harding Blaesing (22 October 1919 – 17 November 2005) was the alleged illegitimate daughter of Warren G. Harding, the 29th President of the United States, and Nan Britton, a native of Marion, Ohio.
Nan Britton, who made her claim public with the publication of her book, The President's Daughter (Elizabeth Ann Guild, 1927), could never produce primary source evidence to prove that Harding acknowledged his paternity of the child. Elizabeth Ann used Harding's surname as a child and young adult; her birth certificate, however, due to a doctor's error, was written in the name of Emma Eloise Britton. Her mother also used Christian as her child's surname at one point.
Initially given to her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth and Scott Willetts of Illinois, to be raised, young Elizabeth Ann was taken back by Britton once Britton's book was published. Born in Asbury Park, New Jersey, Elizabeth Ann graduated from Sullivan High School in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois; later she married Henry Edward Blaesing on September 18, 1938, in Chicago. At the time Nan Britton began a series of newspaper interviews discussing Elizabeth Ann (referring to her as "Ann Harding") and her (Elizabeth Ann's) marriage, but refusing to provide the name of her husband.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Ann, her husband, and her sons lived on Alderdale Street in Downey, California. In the mid-1960s the family moved to Glendale, California. In 1964, the matter of Harding’s alleged paternity of Elizabeth Ann was again brought to the forefront when a series of lawsuits in Ohio involving the ownership of love letters written by Harding to his late mistress Carrie Phillips were taking place. In an Associated Press wire service article distributed in mid-July of that year, Elizabeth Ann Blaesing confirmed publicly that in 1934 her mother had told her that Warren G. Harding was her biological father. "It's not something that you bring up in casual conversation," she stated in the story.
When contacted by Harding scholar Dr. Robert H. Ferrell, author of The Strange Death of President Harding and later by John Dean, author of Warren Harding, The American President Series, Blaesing refused interviews on the topic.
Blaesing died in Oregon on November 17, 2005. The family did not make a public announcement about the death; however, her son Thomas Blaesing did confirm the event during a May 2006 interview according to the May 31, 2006, Cleveland Plain Dealer. According to Blaesing's son, his mother was not interested in seeking DNA evidence confirming paternity. Testing on Blaesing's sons or grandchildren would also resolve the mystery. Some scholars, most notably bioethicist Jacob Appel, have argued that the Blaesings have a "moral and civic responsibility" to provide their DNA for comparative purposes.
If Blaesing was, in fact, President Harding's daughter, then, between the 2000 death of John Coolidge and her own death, she was the oldest living child of a President, and between the 1995 death of Francis Cleveland and her own death, Harding was the earliest President still to have a living child, this distinction now belonging to Dwight D. Eisenhower. As of 2008, that distinction now belongs to John Eisenhower.
- Appel, Jacob M. History's DNA. Chicago Tribune. August 21, 2008
- Associated Press Wire Service. Secret Kept for Twenty Years: California Woman Says She is Daughter of Harding. Tri-City Herald, Pasco, Washington, p. 15, July 17, 1964.
- Dean, John; Schlesinger, Arthur M. Warren Harding (The American President Series), Times Books, 2004. ISBN 0-8050-6956-9
- Ferrell, Robert H. The Strange Death of President Harding. University of Missouri Press, 1996. ISBN 0-8262-1202-6
- Mee, Charles Jr. The Ohio Gang: The World of Warren G. Harding: A Historical Entertainment M. Evans & Company, 1983. ISBN 0-87131-340-5
- Presidential mystery stays unsolved. Sloat, Bill. The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio, May 31, 2006.
- History's DNA. Appel, Jacob M. The Chicago Tribune. August 21, 2008.