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President and Noble Warren Harding

President and Noble Warren Harding at the 1923 Imperial Session

U.S. President Warren Harding, and member of Aladdin Shriners attends the 1923 Imperial Session

U.S. President Warren Harding was the first President to become a Shriner. He belonged to Aladdin Shriners in Grove City, Ohio.

President Harding attended the 49th Imperial Session in 1923 in Washington, D.C. He and his wife, First Lady Florence Harding, watched the parade from the viewing stand. After a several hours long parade, he addressed the crowd at the Public Opening.

Harding said, “I think I know the very soul of Masonry, out of which the Shrine has come to lighten our burdens and add cheer to our daily lives. There is both quantity and quality in the Nobility of the Shrine. It is more than a mere Masonic playground. Conceived in cheer, the order hungered for more than play, though we need more play in our daily lives. It craved to be helpful, and it is aglow in noble achievement.”

Harding died less than two months later on August 2, 1923.