The Teapot Dome Scandal
*Includes pictures *Includes quotes from participants and Congress *Includes footnotes, online resources and a bibliography for further reading “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends, my goddamned friends, they're the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights!” – President Warren Harding Americans in the 21st century cite the relatively recent Watergate Scandal, and to a lesser degree the Enron Oil Scandal, as prime examples of modern governmental corruption. It is a widely held perception that these incidents, particularly the one bringing about the first resignation of an American president, caused the public to lose trust in federal institutions and political figures. However, the prototype for the breakdown of governmental fidelity lies in the early 20th century, a time in which the recent territories of the United States struggled to evolve from a lawless, Wild West culture. The federal government viewed its western resources as both unlimited and outside the grasp of the government. The leading oil barons, born and raised in the 19th century, were accustomed to federally-blessed land-grabs and easily obtained mining and lumber interests, often doled out to the social and financial elite under the guise of exploration. Federal interference was minimal in contrast to later decades, and the government itself was eager to conquer the West through large-tract farming, river management, mineral and timber development, not to mention the procurement of oil for a growing society as coal gave way to new types of fuel. The early 20th century was a time of sudden growth for the young American automobile industry, and of a military beginning to extend its reach around the world. In what would become largely a jurisdictional dispute over Western natural resources, the unbridled oil industry of the new century collided with the United States military and the Department of the Interior, set against the dominance of a corruption-riddled presidential administration. For the first time in American history, in a test between entrepreneurism and government management, a high-ranking cabinet official was convicted of corruption and sent to prison in the aftermath, along with his co-conspirators. In the ensuing Congressional investigation that sought to root out the widespread graft, bribery, and usurpation of government property over the following decade, the two-year affair became commonly known as the Teapot Dome Scandal. Although three major oil fields were actually involved, including Elk Hills and Buena Vista in the San Joaquin Valley of California, the symbol of the incident became a rock formation north of Casper, Wyoming, shaped in what most observers would describe as a teapot. Beneath this formation lay an enormous reservoir of crude oil, and all of it the property of the United States Navy. On June 4, 1920, Congress at last declared that the Secretary of the Navy was to hold the power to “conserve, develop, use and operate,” at its discretion, a tract of approximately 70,000 acres in California. The Wyoming fields fell under the same dictate, and although Teapot was the smaller reserve in terms of acreage, it contained a great deal more oil than its Californian counterparts. Although never directly implicated in the row over Teapot Dome and its sister fields, the administration of Republican Warren G. Harding, elected in November of 1921, set the scandal in motion by transferring control of the Navy’s oil fields to the Department of Interior, at the Secretary of the Interior’s incessant urging. Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior at the time and a Harding appointee, was one of several poker-playing cronies in the president’s cabinet. Once his department gained control over the Navy’s oil fields, Fall subsequently took it upon himself to offer secret leases and contracts to independent oil companies.
Mix hundreds of millions of dollars in petroleum reserves; rapacious oil barons and crooked politicians; under-the-table payoffs; murder, suicide, and blackmail; White House cronyism; and the excesses of the Jazz Age. The result: the granddaddy of all American political scandals, Teapot Dome.
In The Teapot Dome Scandal, acclaimed author Laton McCartney tells the amazing, complex, and at times ribald story of how Big Oil handpicked Warren G. Harding, an obscure Ohio senator, to serve as our twenty-third president. Harding and his so-called “oil cabinet” made it possible for the oilmen to secure vast oil reserves that had been set aside for use by the U.S. Navy. In exchange, the oilmen paid off senior government officials, bribed newspaper publishers, and covered the GOP campaign debt.
When news of the scandal finally emerged, the consequences were disastrous for the nation and for the principles in the plot to bilk the taxpayers: Harding’s administration was hamstrung; Americans’ confidence in their government plummeted; Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall was indicted, convicted, and incarcerated; and others implicated in the affair suffered similarly dire fates. Stonewalling by members of Harding’s circle kept a lid on the story–witnesses developed “faulty” memories or fled the country, and important documents went missing–but contemporary records newly made available to McCartney reveal a shocking, revelatory picture of just how far-reaching the affair was, how high the stakes, and how powerful the conspirators.
In giving us a gimlet-eyed but endlessly entertaining portrait of the men and women who made a tempest of Teapot Dome, Laton McCartney again displays his gift for faithfully rendering history with the narrative touch of an accomplished novelist.
American Hero Albert B. Fall takes a big risk in order to achieve his American Dream.
Very Good 2009. Reprint. Paperback. Very Good.
Very Good 2008. Hardcover. Very Good.
He represented President Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and acted as an attorney for Sinclair Oil during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s. According to Weil, Palmer was also “a man of mystery” with several quirks. He insisted
Oil pumps dot the landscape at the Department of Energy's Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center amid the Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 3 near Midwest in this October 2003 file photo. The oil field, which was the center of the 1920s Teapot Dome scandal,
I've always been a bit lacking when it comes to my understanding of the Teapot Dome Scandal. Maybe I should ask the next Confederate flag waver/history professor I see and ask them to explain it. You know, since history is their thing and all. Look, I
RT @WWECreative_ish: See @WWEBrayWyatt take on @WWERomanReigns in the 2015 version of the Teapot Dome Scandal. #WWEBattleground 07/20/15, @MaikeruNoHentai
.@TheAmazingBriz my favorite question to ask the little scholars is to explain the Teapot Dome Scandal. 07/20/15, @Dbright21
RT @WWECreative_ish: See @WWEBrayWyatt take on @WWERomanReigns in the 2015 version of the Teapot Dome Scandal. #WWEBattleground 07/20/15, @CenationUCME
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Mix hundreds of millions of dollars in petroleum reserves; rapacious oil barons and crooked politicians; under-the-table payoffs; murder, suicide, and blackmail; White House cronyism; and the excesses of the Jazz Age. The result: the granddaddy of all American political scandals, Teapot Dome. In The Teapot Dome Scandal, acclaimed author Laton McCartney tells the amazing, complex, and at times ribald story of how Big Oil handpicked Warren G. Harding, an obscure Ohio senator, to serve as our twenty-third president. Harding and his so-called “oil cabinet” made it possible for the oilmen to secure vast oil reserves that had been set aside for use by the U.S. Navy. In exchange, the oilmen paid off senior government officials, bribed newspaper publishers, and covered the GOP campaign debt....
Although his administration was marred by corruption, including the Teapot Dome scandal, Harding’s election victory and presidency were characterized by several firsts: The first election with nationwide women’s suffrage. The first radio announcement ...
He represented President Woodrow Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and acted as an attorney for Sinclair Oil during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s. According to Weil, Palmer was also “a man of mystery” with several quirks. He insisted ...
One was the Teapot Dome scandal where the secretary of interior, Albert Fall allowed bribes so that companies could tap in the Teapot Dome oil reserve without competitive bidding. One of the most unethical studies in recorded history, the US Public health ...
The Teapot Dome scandal was a bribery incident that took place in the United States from 1921 to 1924, during the administration of President Warren G. Harding ...
Teapot Dome Scandal, also called Oil Reserves Scandal or Elk Hills Scandal, Teapot Dome Scandal: cartoon The Granger Collection, New York in American history, scandal ...
Although the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s was named for a Wyoming rock formation resembling a teapot, the wrongdoers were not from the state. During the ...