Teapot Dome Scandal

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Teapot Dome Scandal

The presidential administration of warren g. harding, from 1921 to 1923, was characterized by scandal and corruption, the most controversial of which was the Teapot Dome oil scandal.

Conservation was a popular cause throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century and was encouraged by various presidents. As a result, several oil reserves for the exclusive use of the U.S. Navy were established in Wyoming and California. The oil was kept in storage places called domes, one of which, located near Casper, Wyoming, was christened Teapot Dome due to a rock formation in the area that resembled a teapot.

Although many politicians favored the establishment of the oil reserves, others believed they were superfluous. One opponent of the oil policy was Senator Albert B. Fall of New Mexico, who sought to make the reserves accessible to private industry.

In 1921, Senator Fall was selected as secretary of the interior in the Harding cabinet. Authority over the oil fields was transferred from the Department of the Navy to the Interior Department, with the consent of Edwin Denby, Secretary of the Navy. Fall was in a position to lease the oil reserves, without public bidding, to private parties. In 1922, Harry F. Sinclair, president of the Mammoth Oil Company, received rights to Teapot Dome, and Edward L. Doheny, a friend of Fall and prominent in the Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company, leased the Elk Hills fields in California. Fall received approximately four hundred thousand dollars in exchange for his favoritism.

Senator Thomas J. Walsh of Montana initiated a Senate investigation of the oil reserve lands at the recommendation of Senator robert m. lafollette of Wisconsin. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the leases inoperative, and the oil fields at Teapot Dome and Elk Hills were returned to the U.S. government. Sinclair served nine months in prison for Contempt of court, but both he and Doheny were found not guilty of Bribery. Fall, who had left the cabinet in 1923, was found guilty in 1929 of accepting bribes; his punishment was one year in prison and a fine of $100,000. President Harding died in office in 1923, never aware of the notoriety of his administration.

Further readings

Stratton, David H. 1998. Tempest over Teapot Dome: The Story of Albert B. Fall. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

References in periodicals archive ?
Faced with a roaring economy, and the general success of Harding, the Democrats desperately needed an issue, and the Teapot Dome Scandal provided that.
chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, called the Telecommunications Act, in which broadcasters got $70 billion worth of free spectrum, "one of the greatest rip-offs since Teapot Dome.
Unger acknowledges the pivotal part that La Follette played in exposing the Teapot Dome scandal, and she wraps up the biography with a look at La Follette's failed Presidential effort in 1924.
For seventy years, lingering recollections of Teapot Dome remained strong enough to stymie attempted raids on the military's largest strategic fuel reserve.
Elsewhere in the world, 1923 was the year Sarah Bernhardt and Pancho Villa died, the year of the Teapot Dome hearings, the year the Nazis held their first, fevered rally.
The independent counsel law--the legislation that has allowed Starr to carry on his partisan crusade using taxpayer dollars--was passed by Congress in 1978, in the aftermath of Watergate, to prevent abuses of power by the presidency In the two centuries of the republic before the statute, which binds the attorney general to seek the appointment of an independent counsel whenever "specific" and "credible" evidence of wrongdoing by certain federal officials arises, federal special prosecutors had been employed exactly three times: during the Harding administration's Teapot Dome scandal in 1923; the Truman administration's tax scandal involving the IRS and the Justice Department in 1951; and the Watergate scandal.
But Warren Harding had the misfortune to die at the wrong moment - immediately prior to the exposure of the Teapot Dome scandal - and thus was unable to defend himself against a mob of debunkers.
1927), based on the Teapot Dome Scandal of the early 1920s, and Boston (1928), based on the controversial trial of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti--followed, but none achieved the popularity of The Jungle.
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The final group, on technology and competitiveness, examines efforts to monopolize, telecommunications policy, Teapot Dome, technology policy, competitiveness, and Big Science in relation to economic development.
In the first formal action of the investigation that uncovered the Teapot Dome scandal, Sen.