Teapot Dome, Wyoming

East Teapot Dome oil field, located in the county of Natrona, Wyoming, the oil field was named after the teapot-shaped rock above the field. The name became nationally-famous, though, as the location of the famous 1924 Teapot Dome oil scandal.

Teapot Dome was one of three underground oil reserves set aside for use by the Navy during emergency situations of a decline in normal oil supplies. However, President Warren Harding’s Secretary of the Interior, Senator Albert B. Fall, opposed the conservation of this oil field for Naval use and convinced the Secretary of the Navy, Edwin Denby, to release control of the oil fields. Senator Fall proceeded to lease part of the Naval Reserves to two of his friends, Harry F. Sinclair (Mammoth Oil Corporation) and Edward Doheny (Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company) without any competitive bidding. In Senate hearings on the matter, Edward Doheny admitted that he had lent Fall $100,000, interest-free. Some accused Fall of conspiracy and of accepting a bribe and in 1928, Fall was convicted of lying to the Senate committee when he declared that he had not accepted any money. Fall was found guilty and sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a 100,000 dollar fine. In 1927, the Supreme Court decided that the oil fields leased by Fall to Sinclair and Doheny would be returned to the U.S. government.

In addition to the scandal, Teapot Dome became a symbol to both sides of the debate over the right of the federal government to seize control of profitable natural resources, such as oil, coal, and natural gas. Although Albert Fall made the words “Teapot Dome” a synonym for scandal in the United States, the issue of developing such resources continues to be debated in the U.S. today.

Sources

  • Lowitz, Melissa (Lead Author); Brian Black (Contributing Author); Brian Black (Topic Editor). 2008. "Teapot Dome, Wyoming." In: Encyclopedia of Earth. Eds. Cutler J. Cleveland (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment). [First published in the Encyclopedia of Earth September 21, 2006; Last revised August 25, 2008; Retrieved March 5, 2010]. <http://www.eoearth.org/article/Teapot_Dome,_Wyoming>
  • What was Teapot Dome? (History News Network)

 

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