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June 21, 1926

Oil reserves were discovered in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, at the beginning of this century. In 1912, President William Taft decided that Teapot Dome and other government owned land and there oil reserves should be set aside for the United States Navy’s use. On the 4th of June, 1920, Congress passed a bill stating that the Secretary of the Navy would have the power “to conserve, develop, use and operate the same in his discretion, directly or by contract, lease, or otherwise, and to use, store, exchange, or sell the oil and gas products thereof, and those from all royalty oil from lands in the naval reserves , for the benefit of the United States” This means that the oil reserves were in the hand of the secretary of the navy. Yet just a year later, Secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, convinced Edwin Denby, the Secretary of the Navy, that he should take over the responsibilities of the Naval Reserves at the Teapot Dome and other government reserves. So Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior, was now in charge of the oil reserves. Later on, Fall decided that his two friends, Harry Sinclair and Edward Doheny, should be allowed to lease part of the oil reserves. Many rumors and witness have said that Albert Fall was spending large sums of money. On the 14th of April of 1922, it was

released that Fall leased the Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair. When reporters asked President Warren Harding, he defended Fall saying “the policy which has been adopted by the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Interior in dealing with these matters was submitted to me prior to the adoption thereof, and the policy decided upon and the subsequent acts have at all times had my entire approval.” By saying this, President Harding conformed that he was fully aware of what was going on. When President Harding passed away on August 2nd of 1923, Robert La Follette and John Kendrick called for a senate investigation into Albert Fall and the oil reserves. Over the next few months there were many

different hearings, and many witnesses testified before the committee. On January 24, 1924, Edward Doheny, his friend, admitted that he lent Fall one hundred thousand dollars. Seven days after that the Senate stated that the leases to the Teapot oil reserve “were executed under circumstances indicating fraud and corruption.” After that, Edwin Denby and Albert Fall were forced to resign from office. Harry Sinclair appeared on trial and was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. The trial ended two weeks later, because evidence showed that Sinclair had hired and detective agency to shadow the jury. He was charged for criminal contempt of court and was found guilty, and sentenced to six months in prison. Albert Fall was charged with accepting money from Doheny. Though M. T. Everhart’s testimony showed that Fall had lied to the senate committee when he said he had accepted any money from Sinclair. He was found guilty, fined $100,000, and sentenced to one year in prison. The thing is though, President Harding admitted to backing Fall up in the whole deal, so the question is up to you. Was the President behind the whole plan of corruption against the United States? Or had Albert Fall and his friends fool everyone, including the president?

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this is our Magazine covering the 1920s

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