The Ohio Gang

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Hilary Barrett
April 13, 2009
Ohio History
Dr. Patrick
Thieving Their Way into History
In 1919 World War I had come to an end. Ten years later the stock market crashed throwing the United States into a Great Depression. The time period in between was a time that was classified by a boom in the economy and prohibition legalized by the eighteenth amendment. This amendment had lead to an increase of organized crime nationwide. In that time span of these two prominent moments in American history was one of the most scandalous presidencies in American history. It came from no other than Ohioan Warren G. Harding. Harding can be considered one of the worst presidents of all time. He won the Presidential election of 1920 which made him officially the President in January of 1921. Once he became president, he immediately made up his cabinet. Three members of his cabinet included his attorney general Harry Daugherty, his secretary of the navy Edwin Denby, and his secretary of the interior Albert Fall. These three men along with Charles Forbes, Thomas Miller and Jess Smith were coined ‘The Ohio Gang’. ‘The Ohio Gang’ was a group of men either in Harding’s cabinet or they directly knew Harding. Although some of the members are not from Ohio, they were coined this name due to their relation to Harding. In fact a majority of the members were not from Ohio. Harding let these men do as they pleased. These men single handily put together some of the biggest scams of the 1920’s. The scandals they pulled off were neither elaborate or spectacular but they made a ton of money off of them. Daugherty was Harding’s first appointed cabinet member. The beginnings of ‘The Ohio Gang’ surfaced while Daugherty was in office. He was accused of selling his vote for five thousand dollars. From that point on any kind of scandal relating to Daugherty and had an affiliation with President Harding went simultaneously with ‘The Ohio Gang’. In a nutshell, as soon as Daugherty was appointed by Harding, the gang began their scandals. Not only that, Daugherty was the single backing of all of the scandals that occurred during Harding’s presidency. For all tense and purposes Daugherty was the backbone of ‘The Ohio Gang’. The Department of Justice at the time had two desks with the names Jess Smith and Howard Mannington on them. Jess Smith was a long time friend of Daugherty. Daugherty and his brother actually set Smith up in business. Mannington was a long time political companion of Smith. They had both worked in Columbus together. Both Smith and Mannington were brought to Washington to help the attorney general. Mannington was released from his office though. Harding believed that Mannington was becoming too reckless for his administration and sent him to Cuba. He had slight affiliations with the gang but never really lived them out the affilations as much as the other members did. He went there on behalf of the largest banking company in the United States and was then no longer officially associated with ‘The Ohio Gang’. The 1920’s was a time of prohibition and having someone who was considered an alcoholic as a President only lead to scandal. The only part of ‘The Ohio Gang’ that related to Mannington was the embezzlement of alcohol to New York. John Gorini, Bill Orr, and Mannington would illegally sell permits. The money for these permits was given to Gorini, then to Orr, then to Mannington. Then if you would actually want to buy liquor you could at an extra cost. Every member of the chain of sales got a little kickback. Gorini alone made over two hundred thousand dollars in a matter of four months. Orr and Mannington also got cuts that big and sometimes bigger. Also, Manningtons right hand man, Jess Smith, also got a cut. The rest of the money made on the selling of alcohol and permits was not known by Gorini where it ended up. This was the only relation that Mannington had to the gang. Since he was gone before anything major...
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