Teapot Dome Scandal

Teapot Dome

Teapot Dome, in U.S. history, oil reserve scandal that began during the administration of President Harding. 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. Fall, 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. Walsh. 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Second Thoughts: Myths and Morals of U.S. Economic History
Donald N. McCloskey.
Oxford University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 21 "What Really Happened at Teapot Dome?"
Privileged Characters
M. R. Werner.
R.M. McBride & Company, 1935
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "Teapot Dome"
Washington Cover-Up
Clark R. Mollenhoff.
Doubleday, 1962
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "Teapot Dome to the Tax Scandals"
Historical Encyclopedia of U.S. Independent Counsel Investigations
Gerald S. Greenberg.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Teapot Dome Scandal" begins on p. 335
Thomas J. Walsh: A Senator from Montana
Josephine O'Keane.
M. Jones, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 11 "The Teapot Brews"
Fighting Liberal: The Autobiography of George W. Norris
Arthur M. Schlesinger; George W. Norris; George W. Norris.
University of Nebraska Press, 1972
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 23 "Teapot Dome"
The Available Man: The Life behind the Masks of Warren Gamaliel Harding
Andrew Sinclair.
Macmillan, 1965
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of the Teapot Dome Scandal begins on p. 265
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