Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Edwin C. Denby
Edwin C. Denby (18 February, 1870 - 8 February, 1929) was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of the Navy in the largely corrupt administration of President Warren G. Harding (1921 - 1923). He played a notable role in the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal that rocked the Harding presidency.
Denby was born in Evansville, Indiana. After receiving some education he went to China with his father in 1885 and worked in the maritime customs service from 1887 to 1894. He then returned to the United States and graduated from the law school at the University of Michigan in 1896. He was subsequently admitted to the bar and began practicing as a lawyer in Detroit.
Denby was elected to Congress as a Republican in 1905. After five years, he was defeated and resumed his law practice in Detroit. He served as president of the Detroit Board of Commerce in 1916, and enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps when the U.S. entered World War I the next year. By the time the war ended, he had attained the rank of major.
When Warren G. Harding became President in March 1921, he appointed Denby Secretary of the Navy. Shortly afterwards, Denby got Harding's approval to transfer control of the naval oil reserves at Teapot Dome, Wyoming, and Elk Hills, California from the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Interior, headed by Albert B. Fall. Fall proceeded to lease these oil fields to friends who were heads of oil companies in exchange for over $400,000 in loans. Despite attempts to keep the deal secret, the Wall Street Journal leaked news of the leasing, and the Senate decided to launch an inquiry into the matter. Throughout this time, Harding continued to back both Denby and Fall.
The investigation began in October 1923 after Harding's death, and the Senate Committee on Lands and Public Surveys, which carried out the inquiry, concluded in 1924 that the Teapot Dome and Elk Hills leases to the oil companies had been fraudulent and corrupt. Both Denby and Fall were forced to resign from office as a result.
Resources: Edwin Denby Bio @ Spartacus
| Preceded by:|
|United States Secretary of the Navy|| Succeeded by:|
Curtis D. Wilbur
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