heated that, at the inevitable mention of Harding's questionable bloodline, father and son proceeded, with shotgun in hand, to demand, and get, a retraction.
While Harding won the war of words and made the Marion Daily Star one of the most popular newspapers in the county, the battle took a toll on his health. In 1889, at age 24, he suffered from exhaustion and nervous fatigue. He spent several weeks at the Battle Creek Sanitarium to regain his strength, ultimately making five visits over 14 years. Harding later returned to Marion to continue operating the paper. He spent his days promoting the community on the editorial pages, and his evenings "bloviating" (a word which Harding frequently used, referring to longwinded, pompous political speech) with his friends over games of poker. In 1893, the Star supplanted the Independent as the official paper for Marion's governmental notices, after Harding exposed the rival paper for overcharging the city. In 1896, the Independent ceased doing business and Amos Kling wasted no time in financing and launching another rival paper, the Republican Transcript, in a failed attempt to derail his future son in law. Harding also made political speeches on the Chautauqua circuit and expressed admiration for his ideal American patron, Alexander Hamilton.
In 1900, a political opponent, J.F. McNeal, with the help of Amos Kling, secretly bought up $20,000 in loans owed by Harding, and immediately called them due in full. Harding just barely succeeded in securing the funds to pay off the debt in order to save the Star. In the last year of his Presidency,
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