William L. Harding

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William Lloyd Harding
William Lloyd Harding in 1915.jpg
22nd Governor of Iowa
In office
January 11, 1917 – January 13, 1921
Lieutenant Ernest R. Moore
Preceded by George W. Clarke
Succeeded by Nathan E. Kendall
Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
In office
January 16, 1913 – January 11, 1917
Governor George W. Clarke
Preceded by George W. Clarke
Succeeded by Ernest R. Moore
Personal details
Born (1877-10-03)October 3, 1877
Sibley, Iowa, U.S.
Died December 17, 1934(1934-12-17) (aged 57)
Des Moines, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of South Dakota

William Lloyd Harding (October 3, 1877 – December 17, 1934) was an American Republican politician. He was the 22nd Governor of Iowa, from 1917 to 1921.

Early life[edit]

William Lloyd Harding, was born in Sibley, Iowa, on October 3, 1877. He later lived in Sioux City.[1] From 1897 to 1901, he attended Morningside College, and then went on to earn his law degree from the University of South Dakota.[2]

Political career[edit]

Harding entered politics in 1906, serving as a Republican member of the Iowa House of Representatives, a position he held for six years.[2] He also served as Iowa's lieutenant governor from 1913 to 1917 during the terms of Republican governor George W. Clarke. Harding won the 1916 Republican gubernatorial nomination, won the election in a landslide (winning 98 of 99 counties[3]) and was sworn into the governor's office on January 11, 1917. He was reelected to a second term in 1918, and thus was governor during four years which roughly coincided with World War I and especially the United States' involvement in it.[4] During that time, there were "defense councils" in every state,[5] and the entry of the United States into the war followed President Wilson's famous statement "the world must be made safe for democracy",[6] and its companion statement, "millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy live amongst us....Should there be any disloyalty it will be dealt with a firm hand of repression.”[6]

Harding was convinced that assimilation would heighten patriotism and felt there is a connection between communication and assimilation. He also claimed that all foreign languages provided an opportunity for the enemy to scatter propaganda. Harding became the only governor in the United States to outlaw the public use of all foreign languages.[7] He addressed those issues in an edict whose title was the Babel Proclamation, which prohibited all public communication in any language other than English.[8]

The Babel Proclamation, which forbade the use of foreign languages in public, over the telephone, in school, and in religious services, was controversial, and possibly unconstitutional. It came about due to the large anti-German sentiment during the First World War. Harding's time in office was marred by scandal and other controversy. His hostility towards immigrants and foreign ethnic groups extended beyond Germans and, for example, included Iowans of Norwegian descent.[9]

An investigation revealed an alleged bribe of 5K for the Governor’s pardon of a felon convicted of rape. Several resignations resulted, and an impeachment proposal was initiated but denied. A censure motion was approved by a vote of 70-34. He did not run again.(1920) [10][11]


Harding was known for his oratory abilities and he continued to be a favorite speaker for Republican party events long after his term as Iowa’s governor had ended.[12]

He is buried in a mausoleum at the Graceland Park Cemetery in Sioux City, Iowa.[1]


  1. ^ a b William L. Harding at Find a Grave
  2. ^ a b "The Iowa Legislature: Historical Information". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 4, 2016. 
  3. ^ Derr, Nancy. "Harding, William Lloyd" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. November 4, 2016.
  4. ^ William, Lloyd Harding. From Iowa, Its History & Its Citizens, Volume 2, 1918.
  5. ^ http://people.cas.sc.edu/dubinsk/LING240/readings/Frese.2005.Babel.Proclamation.pdf,footnote17[dead link]
  6. ^ a b Woodrow Wilson, War Declaration to Congress, April 2, 1917
  7. ^ http://people.cas.sc.edu/dubinsk/LING240/readingsFrese.2005.Babel.Proclamation.pdf[dead link]
  8. ^ "Orders German Language Out of All Schools in Iowa." Des Moines Register, May 26, 1918: 10A
  9. ^ William L. Harding, Iowa General Assembly[dead link]
  10. ^ Derr, Nancy. "Harding, William Lloyd" The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa. University of Iowa Press, 2009. Web. January 24, 2017, [1]
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Sioux City Public Museum Pearl Street Research Center, SC-12, Folder #2
Political offices
Preceded by
George W. Clarke
Lieutenant Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Ernest Robert Moore
Preceded by
George W. Clarke
Governor of Iowa
January 11, 1917 – January 13, 1921
Succeeded by
Nathan E. Kendall