The presidency of Harding was filled with continuous scandal. Many compare the Harding to Grant has both being postwar presidents marked by scandals and corruption. Having appointed several excellent officials, Harding also appointed a number of incompetent and dishonest men to fill important positions, including the Secretary of Interior, Albert B. Fall and Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty.
The Secretary of Interior, Albert B. Fall, in 1921, secured the transfer of several naval oil reserves to his jurisdiction. In 1922, Fall secretly leased reserves at Teapot Dome in Wyoming to Harry F. Sinclair of Monmouth Oil and at Elk Hills in California to Edward Doheny of Pan-American Petroleum. A Senate investigation later revealed that Sinclair had given Fall $305,000 in cash and bonds and a herd of cattle, while Doheny had given him a $100,000 unsecured loans. Sinclair and Doheny were acquitted in 1927 of charges of defrauding the government, but in 1929 Fall was convicted, fined, and imprisoned for bribery.
Another scandal involved Charles R. Forbes, appointed by Harding to head the new Veteran's Bureau. He seemed energetic and efficient in operating the new hospitals and services for veterans. It was later estimated that he had stolen or squandered about $250 million in Bureau funds.
Scandal also tainted Attorney General Daugherty who, through his intimate friend Jessie Smith, took bribes from bootleggers, income tax evaders, and others in return for protection from prosecution. When the scandal became to come to light, Smith committed suicide in Daugherty's Washington apartment in May 1923. There was also evidence that Daugherty received money for using his influence in returning the American Metal Company, seized by the government during the war, to its German owners.
Area Two-Economics-Prosperity and Innovation
Though overall the economy was strong between 1922...