On April 7, 1922, the Teapot Dome Scandal began to unfold in the United States of America. The scandal involved the secret leasing of federal oil reserves to private companies and the subsequent bribery of government officials.
Albert B. Fall, the Secretary of the Interior under President Warren G. Harding, was at the center of the scandal. Fall had been charged with managing the country’s oil reserves, including the Teapot Dome oil field in Wyoming. In 1921, Fall secretly leased the Teapot Dome oil field to the Mammoth Oil Company, owned by Harry F. Sinclair, without competitive bidding. A similar lease was also made to the Pan American Petroleum Company for California’s Elk Hills oil field.
The scandal came to light when a Senate investigation was launched in 1922. The investigating committee found that Fall had not only accepted bribes from Sinclair and other oil company executives but had also been involved in other illegal and unethical behavior. Fall was eventually convicted of accepting bribes and spent a year in prison.
The Teapot Dome Scandal had far-reaching consequences. It led to a loss of public trust in government officials and exposed the corrupt practices of big business. The scandal also helped pave the way for more assertive government oversight of the oil industry and other natural resources.
President Harding died suddenly in 1923, and Calvin Coolidge succeeded him. Coolidge made it his mission to restore public trust in government, and he initiated a series of reforms to curb corruption and promote transparency.