Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Teapot Dome scandal
The name "Teapot Dome" is derived from a land formation in Wyoming, which at the time was part of the United States Navy oil reserves. In 1922, Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall (of New Mexico), a Harding appointee at the suggestion of Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty, illegally conveyed the rights to the oil to Harry F. Sinclair of Sinclair Oil without competitive bidding.
Following a Senate investigation led by Senator Thomas J. Walsh, indictments were handed down for Fall, Doheny and Sinclair. Doheny and Sinclair were both fined $100,000; Fall was sentenced to prison, making him the first Presidential cabinet member to go to prison for his actions in office. The purloined oil fields were returned to the U.S. Government through a Supreme Court decision in 1927.
During this time, the term Ohio Gang was termed for those deemed to have committed illegal acts under the Harding administration.
Harding personally was not, directly or otherwise, aware of the scandal; at the time of his death in 1923 he was just beginning to learn of problems resulting from his appointee’s actions when he undertook his Voyage of Understanding tour of the United States in the summer of 1923. As a result of Teapot Dome, Harding’s administration has been remembered in history as one of the most corrupt to occupy the White House.
Following the exposure of Teapot Dome, Harding’s popularity plunged. While the late President and First Lady Florence Kling Harding’s bodies were interred in the newly completed Harding Memorial in Marion, Ohio in 1927, a formal dedication ceremony wouldn’t be held until 1930 when enough of the scandal had faded from the memories of the American people.
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