Teapot Dome

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Teapot Dome,

in U.S. history, oil reserve scandal that began during the administration of President HardingHarding, Warren Gamaliel
, 1865–1923, 29th President of the United States (1921–23), b. Blooming Grove (now Corsica), Ohio. After study (1879–82) at Ohio Central College, he moved with his family to Marion, Ohio, where he devoted himself to journalism.
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. In 1921, by executive order of the President, control of naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyo., and at Elk Hills, Calif., was transferred from the Navy Dept. to the Dept. of the Interior. The oil reserves had been set aside for the navy by President Wilson. In 1922, Albert B. FallFall, Albert Bacon,
1861–1944, American cabinet official, b. Frankfort, Ky. He became a rancher in New Mexico and a political leader in that state. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 1912, he served there until President Harding made him Secretary of the Interior in 1921.
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, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, leased, without competitive bidding, the Teapot Dome fields to Harry F. Sinclair, an oil operator, and the field at Elk Hills, Calif., to Edward L. Doheny. These transactions became (1922–23) the subject of a Senate investigation conducted by Sen. Thomas J. WalshWalsh, Thomas James
, 1859–1933, American political leader, b. Two Rivers, Wis. A lawyer, he was Democratic Senator from Montana from 1913 until his death. Walsh helped write the Eighteenth and Nineteenth amendments and worked for the abolition of child labor.
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. It was found that in 1921, Doheny had lent Fall $100,000, interest-free, and that upon Fall's retirement as Secretary of the Interior (Mar., 1923) Sinclair also "loaned" him a large amount of money. The investigation led to criminal prosecutions. Fall was indicted for conspiracy and for accepting bribes. Convicted of the latter charge, he was sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000. In another trial for bribery Doheny and Sinclair were acquitted, although Sinclair was subsequently sentenced to prison for contempt of the Senate and for employing detectives to shadow members of the jury in his case. The oil fields were restored to the U.S. government through a Supreme Court decision in 1927.


See M. R. Werner and J. Starr, Teapot Dome (1959); B. Noggle, Teapot Dome (1962).

Teapot Dome

government oil reserves fraudulently leased to private concerns (1922). [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 353]
See: Scandal
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