Edward L. Doheny testifying before the Senate committee investigating the Teapot Dome Scandal in 1924
The Teapot Dome Scandal was a bribery scandal in the 1920s centered around the leasing of federal oil reserves by Albert B. Fall, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior. It is often considered the biggest American political scandal prior to Watergate.
Before World War I, the U.S. government had set aside two oil reserves in California and one in Wyoming to provide oil for the Navy in case there was ever a shortage. The one in Wyoming was referred to as Teapot Dome because of its proximity to a formation called Teapot Rock.
In late 1921 and 1922, after accepting bribes, Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall leased the federal oil reserves for development and drilling to two oil men, Edward Doheny and Harry Sinclair, without accepting competitive bids, shortchanging the government in favor of making millions for the oil men.
Following newspaper reports of the oil deal in spring 1922, the Senate began looking into the matter. Hearings began in October 1923, in which the Congressional committee called witnesses to testify, including Fall (who had by that time resigned from the cabinet).
In early 1924, two special prosecutors were appointed to handle the investigation, and later that year they filed several lawsuits that aimed to cancel the leases on the oil fields and convict Fall, Doheny, and Sinclair. Following various court battles, the leases were eventually overturned and Doheny and Sinclair had to pay hefty fines. (Sinclair was also sentenced to time in jail for contempt of Congress.)
Fall was eventually (in 1929) found guilty of accepting a bribe, fined, and sentenced to a year in prison—the first former Cabinet member to serve jail time for misconduct while in office. The extent of President Warren G. Harding’s possible involvement in the scandal remains unknown, as he died unexpectedly in August 1923 while still in office.
Learn more about the Teapot Dome Scandal through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.
Articles and Clippings about the Teapot Dome Scandal
Article reporting on how Wyoming oil producers feel about Sinclair Oil's development of Teapot Dome Thu, Apr 6, 1922 – Page 23 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comNewspaper article giving history of development of oil reserves at Teapot Dome prior to the scandal Fri, Apr 7, 1922 – Page 9 · The Wall Street Journal (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comWall Street Journal reports on Sinclair Oil being given government contract to develop Teapot Dome Fri, Apr 14, 1922 – Page 1 · The Wall Street Journal (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comSenate begins inquiry into the leasing of the naval oil reserve at Teapot Dome to Sinclair Oil Sat, Apr 15, 1922 – Page 1 · Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com"President Harding has full confidence in government agencies" in Teapot Dome deal Tue, Apr 18, 1922 – Page 1 · The Evening World (New York, New York) · Newspapers.comSecretary of the Interior Albert Fall announces his resignation during Teapot Dome Scandal Tue, Jan 2, 1923 – Page 5 · The Winfield Daily Free Press (Winfield, Kansas) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Albert B. Fall, Secretary of the Interior involved in the Teapot Dome Scandal Tue, Jan 2, 1923 – Page 1 · The Evening News (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comInterest in Teapot Dome Scandal gains momentum; Is called "one of the most remarkable scandals" Thu, Jan 17, 1924 – Page 1 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comPanoramic picture of Wyoming oil fields and Teapot Dome, published in a 1924 newspaper Wed, Jan 30, 1924 – Page 1 · The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comImage of Teapot Rock, which gave the Teapot Dome oil field its name Wed, Jan 30, 1924 – Page 1 · The News-Herald (Franklin, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.comPhoto of Edward Doheny testifying before a Senate committee regarding the Teapot Dome Scandal Fri, Feb 8, 1924 – Page 1 · The Capital Journal (Salem, Oregon) · Newspapers.comNewspaper political cartoon about the Teapot Dome Scandal published in 1924 Tue, Mar 4, 1924 – Page 4 · Middletown Daily Herald (Middletown, New York) · Newspapers.comNewspaper article reports that the legal battle over Teapot Dome will soon begin Thu, Mar 13, 1924 – Page 1 · The Brainerd Daily Dispatch (Brainerd, Minnesota) · Newspapers.comPicture of Harry Sinclair and his lawyers as he arrives to testify to the Senate about Teapot Dome Mon, Mar 24, 1924 – Page 1 · Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) · Newspapers.comNewspaper opinion piece wonders why Teapot Dome legal proceedings are moving so slowly Sun, Feb 22, 1925 – Page 58 · The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) · Newspapers.comTimeline of the events of the Teapot Dome Scandal April 1915 to October 1927 Tue, Oct 18, 1927 – Page 2 · Santa Ana Register (Santa Ana, California) · Newspapers.comHarry Sinclair is sentenced to jail time for contempt of the Senate during Teapot Dome Scandal Tue, Apr 9, 1929 – 1 · The Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama) · Newspapers.comFormer Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall is found guilty of accepting a bribe for Teapot Dome Fri, Oct 25, 1929 – Page 2 · Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) · Newspapers.com