Re: DeLay to give up majority leader post
- He's been running in the mid 30s in his district
approval ratings BEFORE the Abramhoff revelations. Any
politician who takes a corporate jet to his own
ethnics arraignment just doesn't get it.
OK, historians.. Is Nancy Pelosi right when she labels
this Congress the most corrupt in our nation's
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> It's been quite a delay, LOL!
> A bit lame, but still funny to say.
> Yahoo! Groups Links
- I thought it was Harry Reid that said, not Pelosi? Or
maybe they both said it. As to whether it's true, I
really don't know. Congress right now certainly seems
very corrupt, but there may have been times when it
was even more. There's undoubtedly been plenty of
Congressional corruption throughout history that never
saw the light of day, and the public never realized
how things really were in Washington. For other very
corrupt times I'd suspect that the decades between the
Civil War and the Progressive Era may have equalled or
surpassed our time. I don't know enough about the
Credit Mobilier scandal, but I think it may somewhat
parallel the Abramoff scandal.
--- THOMAS JOHNSON <AVRCRDNG@...> wrote:
> He's been running in the mid 30s in his district
> approval ratings BEFORE the Abramhoff revelations.
> politician who takes a corporate jet to his own
> ethnics arraignment just doesn't get it.
> OK, historians.. Is Nancy Pelosi right when she
> this Congress the most corrupt in our nation's
> --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> > It's been quite a delay, LOL!
> > A bit lame, but still funny to say.
> > Ram
> > Yahoo! Groups Links
> > prezveepsenator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.
- I think one should look at the era of westward growth and the days of
the railroads expanding across America for a time when Congress had
some problems. Was it worse? I guess that all is a judgement call
and how one evaluates it. But I can tell you this from just being
old enough to know, but in the last 25 years nothing has topped this
last week for pure scandal and nervous folks all over D.C.
--- In email@example.com, THOMAS JOHNSON
> He's been running in the mid 30s in his district
> approval ratings BEFORE the Abramhoff revelations. Any
> politician who takes a corporate jet to his own
> ethnics arraignment just doesn't get it.
> OK, historians.. Is Nancy Pelosi right when she labels
> this Congress the most corrupt in our nation's
> --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
> > It's been quite a delay, LOL!
> > A bit lame, but still funny to say.
> > Ram
> > Yahoo! Groups Links
> > prezveepsenator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.
I have to agree with the other two distinguish historian members and
conclude that the Gilded Age was a very corrupt era. But after the
corruption came the better days of the Progressive era.
Let's hope that history repeats itself very soon!
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Gregory" <greggolopry@c...>
> I think one should look at the era of westward growth and the days of
> the railroads expanding across America for a time when Congress had
> some problems. Was it worse? I guess that all is a judgement call
> and how one evaluates it. But I can tell you this from just being
> old enough to know, but in the last 25 years nothing has topped this
> last week for pure scandal and nervous folks all over D.C.
> --- In email@example.com, THOMAS JOHNSON
> <AVRCRDNG@F...> wrote:
> > He's been running in the mid 30s in his district
> > approval ratings BEFORE the Abramhoff revelations. Any
> > politician who takes a corporate jet to his own
> > ethnics arraignment just doesn't get it.
> > OK, historians.. Is Nancy Pelosi right when she labels
> > this Congress the most corrupt in our nation's
> > history?
> > Tom
> > --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
> > > It's been quite a delay, LOL!
> > >
> > > A bit lame, but still funny to say.
> > >
> > > Ram
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Yahoo! Groups Links
> > >
> > >
> > > prezveepsenator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
I heard or read the quote attributed to Pelosi,but
hopefully she and Reid are presenting a united front
and delivering the same message, so they probably both
The Harding administration was was incredibly
corrupt, but lasted only 4 years until Harding got a
clue... I think it may have killed him.
I actually saw testimony before a congressional
sub-committee in 2004 that the Bush administration was
took Iraqi forklifts found during the occupation,
painted them and charged the US govt for new
forklifts and funnelled the money back to the
re-election fund. Don't know if it's true but somebody
testified under oath that it was.
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> I have to agree with the other two distinguish
> historian members and
> conclude that the Gilded Age was a very corrupt era.
> But after the
> corruption came the better days of the Progressive
> Let's hope that history repeats itself very soon!
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Gregory"
> > I think one should look at the era of westward
> growth and the days of
> > the railroads expanding across America for a time
> when Congress had
> > some problems. Was it worse? I guess that all is
> a judgement call
> > and how one evaluates it. But I can tell you this
> from just being
> > old enough to know, but in the last 25 years
> nothing has topped this
> > last week for pure scandal and nervous folks all
> over D.C.
> > Gregory
> > --- In email@example.com, THOMAS
> > <AVRCRDNG@F...> wrote:
> > >
> > > He's been running in the mid 30s in his district
> > > approval ratings BEFORE the Abramhoff
> revelations. Any
> > > politician who takes a corporate jet to his own
> > > ethnics arraignment just doesn't get it.
> > > OK, historians.. Is Nancy Pelosi right when she
> > > this Congress the most corrupt in our nation's
> > > history?
> > > Tom
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
> > >
> > > > It's been quite a delay, LOL!
> > > >
> > > > A bit lame, but still funny to say.
> > > >
> > > > Ram
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Yahoo! Groups Links
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > prezveepsenator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> Yahoo! Groups Links
> The Harding administration was was incrediblyA quick correction here. :-)
> corrupt, but lasted only 4 years until Harding got a
> clue... I think it may have killed him.
Technically the Harding administration lasted only about 2 years
between his inauguration and his death in 1922. But Coolidge kept most
of his cabinet members until the end the remaining term.
> Technically the Harding administration lasted only about 2 yearsAnd, of course, I actually meant 1923 not 1922.
> between his inauguration and his death in 1922. But Coolidge kept most
> of his cabinet members until the end the remaining term.
- Good point, Ram.. I had it in my head that he died in
early 1924, but it was actually Aug. 2, 1923. Does
anyone have an opinion on whether the discovery of the
scandal hastened his demise?
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> > The Harding administration was was incredibly
> > corrupt, but lasted only 4 years until Harding got
> > clue... I think it may have killed him.
> A quick correction here. :-)
> Technically the Harding administration lasted only
> about 2 years
> between his inauguration and his death in 1922. But
> Coolidge kept most
> of his cabinet members until the end the remaining
> Yahoo! Groups Links
Famous Cases: Who Killed Warren Harding?
Report Number: 2381*
*As the actual file is missing, this case has been pieced together
from interviews, memoirs and assorted public records.
Date: August 2, 1923
Location: San Francisco, California
Of all the American presidents who died in office, none had more
questions surrounding his demise than the 29th President, Warren
Harding. After Harding expired in San Francisco on August 2, 1923, the
cause of death was ascribed to food poisoning, a determination later
changed to stroke. However, many people suspected murder, as Harding
had his share of enemies. But the true story behind Harding's death
may have gone to the grave with one dogged FVZA Agent.
Background: Warren Harding came out of nowhere to seize the 1920
Republican Presidential nomination and go on to win the election.
Almost from the outset, his administration was plagued with scandal.
Harding installed several of his old Ohio friends in important
positions within his Cabinet, and his White House was known more for
its poker games and evening burlesques than for any actual
legislation. The mid-term congressional elections of 1922, in which
Republican candidates got hammered, were a wake-up call for Harding,
who said of his friends, "they're the ones that keep me walking the
floors at night." In a June 1923 speech, Harding vowed to rid his
administration of corruption. But before doing so, the President had
to make a long-promised trip west with his wife Florence and his good
friend Jess Smith, assistant to the U.S. Attorney General.
Shortly before he left, the President received information that
someone in the Justice Department was receiving kickbacks from Chicago
gangster Al Capone's organization in order to protect Capone's
monopoly on bootlegging (the United States had been "dry" since
Prohibition began in 1919). Harding discussed the matter with Jess
Smith, and both men endeavored to launch a full investigation when
they returned to Washington.
Harding's historic trip west was beset with problems. A ship taking
the President up the Alaska coast ran aground, then the President
became sick with food poisoning after dining on some local crabs. On
July 30, 1923, as the ship set sail from Alaska to San Francisco for
the last leg of the trip, President Harding was eager to get back to
Washington and commence a new, corruption-free chapter in his presidency.
Incident: On the night of August 1, Franklin Prevost, Director of the
FVZA office in San Francisco, received an urgent call from Jess Smith
asking him to meet the Presidential boat as it steamed into the
harbor. Prevost, an ambitious, idealistic young man who had risen to
become the youngest regional director in the Agency's history, boarded
the boat on a typically foggy San Francisco evening and was informed
by Smith that President Harding had been bitten by a vampire some time
the previous evening. Smith told Prevost that one of the ship's hands,
a Norwegian named Olaf Johans, had done it, and that he had leaped
overboard after the attack. Prevost entered the Presidential Suite and
found Harding in a vampiric coma, the telltale puncture wounds on his
neck, his wife Florence at his bedside. A brief discussion arrived at
the only reasonable course of action, and the President was put out of
his misery with a dose of cyanide.
Both Smith and Florence Harding wanted to keep the true means of the
President's demise a secret. Prevost was hesitant, but eventually
agreed to keep quiet and so, on August 2, 1923, it was announced that
President Harding had died of food poisoning while on his way to San
Francisco. No further investigation was ever conducted, as Florence
Harding would not allow an autopsy on her husband. The body was
returned to Washington for burial, and for the first and only time in
American history, an FVZA report was suppressed.
The official version of death by poisoning did little to quell rumors
flying around Washington and the rest of the country. Why hadn't Mrs.
Harding permitted an autopsy, and why was there such a hasty burial?
If Warren Harding had been murdered, then there were no shortage of
suspects. Harding's promise to wipe out corruption would likely mean
jail time for some of his pals. Even Harding's wife, Florence, came
under suspicion, as the President's many affairs had caused her great
personal anguish and embarrassment.
Investigation: The rumors and suspicions eventually died down as
Vermonter Calvin Coolidge assumed the reins of government. But across
the country in San Francisco, several unanswered questions continued
to nag at FVZA Director Prevost. How had a man bitten by a vampire
been able to board a ship carrying the President? And how had that
vampire gotten to Harding, who was under full Secret Service protection?
Prevost quietly began his own investigation, interviewing everyone who
had been on or around the ship in the days leading up to Harding's
death. He learned that the Norwegian shiphand had disappeared two days
before the ship's departure from Alaska. A big break came when a
witness identified John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, two thugs from the
Al Capone crime organization, as leaving the ship the night before
Harding was bitten. Prevost began to consider the possibility that
Capone had put a hit on the President to preserve his bootlegging
operation. But the means of the hit-murder by vampire-didn't match
gangster modus operandi. And it still didn't explain how the vampire
had gotten to the President.
Then came a stunning announcement from Washington: former Assistant
Attorney General Jess Smith had been indicted for accepting bribes
from Al Capone. For Prevost, Smith's link to Capone seemed to solve
the puzzle of Harding's death. During the trip west, Smith had enjoyed
unfettered access to the President, and stood to lose much in
Harding's promised purge of corruption. In addition, as assistant head
of the Justice Department, Smith had access to the FVZA lab, from
which several vials of vampire blood had gone missing shortly before
President Harding's trip west. Prevost told FVZA Director Hilton
Dickerson of his findings; Dickerson summoned him to Washington, and
told to bring along his report.
Prevost left San Francisco for Washington on September 12, 1924, but
he never reached his destination. As he stepped off the train in St.
Louis, two men with tommy guns burst into the station and opened fire.
Prevost was shot 12 times, and died a short time later at a nearby
hospital. His report was never recovered.
Eyewitness accounts of Prevost's murderers matched descriptions of
Capone hit men Scalise and Anselmi. But before police could question
the two men, they turned up dead, riddled with shotgun blasts in a
Post-Mortems: Although Prevost's file was gone, he left behind enough
information in his San Francisco office to build a case against Jess
Smith in the death of Harding. FVZA Director Hilton Dickerson had
every intention of pursuing the case, until Smith himself wound up
dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound (the gun was
found in his right hand, but the bullet wound was in his left temple).
Smith's death meant that, only two years after Harding's death,
virtually everyone involved in the event was gone (Florence Harding
died November 21, 1924). Only Al Capone remained, and he wasn't
talking. The Harding assassination case was dropped, and Capone
continued to prosper until he was jailed for tax evasion in 1931.
Afflicted with syphilis, he died in Florida in 1947.
Comments from Dr. Pecos: Is it possible that Warren Harding's close
friend and Assistant Attorney General Jess Smith arranged and helped
carry out the murder of the President? The evidence is certainly
compelling. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth, and Harding's
cause of death is still officially listed as a stroke. For Franklin
Prevost, a man accustomed to battling the undead, the fight against
organized crime was played out under a different set of rules. Though
he paid for it with his life, Franklin Prevost's courage stands as a
proud chapter in FVZA history.
- I am somehow doubtful of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency's
accuracy, and I unfortunately couldn't find any other mentions of
Frank Prevost on Google. But I did find some on Jess Smith. He was
Assistant Attorney General and he apparently was tied to Capone. He
committed suicide in 1923, probably with help from Capone.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
> Famous Cases: Who Killed Warren Harding?
> Report Number: 2381*
> *As the actual file is missing, this case has been pieced together
> from interviews, memoirs and assorted public records.
> Date: August 2, 1923
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Of all the American presidents who died in office, none had more
> questions surrounding his demise than the 29th President, Warren
> Harding. After Harding expired in San Francisco on August 2, 1923, the
> cause of death was ascribed to food poisoning, a determination later
> changed to stroke. However, many people suspected murder, as Harding
> had his share of enemies. But the true story behind Harding's death
> may have gone to the grave with one dogged FVZA Agent.
> Background: Warren Harding came out of nowhere to seize the 1920
> Republican Presidential nomination and go on to win the election.
> Almost from the outset, his administration was plagued with scandal.
> Harding installed several of his old Ohio friends in important
> positions within his Cabinet, and his White House was known more for
> its poker games and evening burlesques than for any actual
> legislation. The mid-term congressional elections of 1922, in which
> Republican candidates got hammered, were a wake-up call for Harding,
> who said of his friends, "they're the ones that keep me walking the
> floors at night." In a June 1923 speech, Harding vowed to rid his
> administration of corruption. But before doing so, the President had
> to make a long-promised trip west with his wife Florence and his good
> friend Jess Smith, assistant to the U.S. Attorney General.
> Shortly before he left, the President received information that
> someone in the Justice Department was receiving kickbacks from Chicago
> gangster Al Capone's organization in order to protect Capone's
> monopoly on bootlegging (the United States had been "dry" since
> Prohibition began in 1919). Harding discussed the matter with Jess
> Smith, and both men endeavored to launch a full investigation when
> they returned to Washington.
> Harding's historic trip west was beset with problems. A ship taking
> the President up the Alaska coast ran aground, then the President
> became sick with food poisoning after dining on some local crabs. On
> July 30, 1923, as the ship set sail from Alaska to San Francisco for
> the last leg of the trip, President Harding was eager to get back to
> Washington and commence a new, corruption-free chapter in his
> Incident: On the night of August 1, Franklin Prevost, Director of the
> FVZA office in San Francisco, received an urgent call from Jess Smith
> asking him to meet the Presidential boat as it steamed into the
> harbor. Prevost, an ambitious, idealistic young man who had risen to
> become the youngest regional director in the Agency's history, boarded
> the boat on a typically foggy San Francisco evening and was informed
> by Smith that President Harding had been bitten by a vampire some time
> the previous evening. Smith told Prevost that one of the ship's hands,
> a Norwegian named Olaf Johans, had done it, and that he had leaped
> overboard after the attack. Prevost entered the Presidential Suite and
> found Harding in a vampiric coma, the telltale puncture wounds on his
> neck, his wife Florence at his bedside. A brief discussion arrived at
> the only reasonable course of action, and the President was put out of
> his misery with a dose of cyanide.
> Both Smith and Florence Harding wanted to keep the true means of the
> President's demise a secret. Prevost was hesitant, but eventually
> agreed to keep quiet and so, on August 2, 1923, it was announced that
> President Harding had died of food poisoning while on his way to San
> Francisco. No further investigation was ever conducted, as Florence
> Harding would not allow an autopsy on her husband. The body was
> returned to Washington for burial, and for the first and only time in
> American history, an FVZA report was suppressed.
> The official version of death by poisoning did little to quell rumors
> flying around Washington and the rest of the country. Why hadn't Mrs.
> Harding permitted an autopsy, and why was there such a hasty burial?
> If Warren Harding had been murdered, then there were no shortage of
> suspects. Harding's promise to wipe out corruption would likely mean
> jail time for some of his pals. Even Harding's wife, Florence, came
> under suspicion, as the President's many affairs had caused her great
> personal anguish and embarrassment.
> Investigation: The rumors and suspicions eventually died down as
> Vermonter Calvin Coolidge assumed the reins of government. But across
> the country in San Francisco, several unanswered questions continued
> to nag at FVZA Director Prevost. How had a man bitten by a vampire
> been able to board a ship carrying the President? And how had that
> vampire gotten to Harding, who was under full Secret Service protection?
> Prevost quietly began his own investigation, interviewing everyone who
> had been on or around the ship in the days leading up to Harding's
> death. He learned that the Norwegian shiphand had disappeared two days
> before the ship's departure from Alaska. A big break came when a
> witness identified John Scalise and Albert Anselmi, two thugs from the
> Al Capone crime organization, as leaving the ship the night before
> Harding was bitten. Prevost began to consider the possibility that
> Capone had put a hit on the President to preserve his bootlegging
> operation. But the means of the hit-murder by vampire-didn't match
> gangster modus operandi. And it still didn't explain how the vampire
> had gotten to the President.
> Then came a stunning announcement from Washington: former Assistant
> Attorney General Jess Smith had been indicted for accepting bribes
> from Al Capone. For Prevost, Smith's link to Capone seemed to solve
> the puzzle of Harding's death. During the trip west, Smith had enjoyed
> unfettered access to the President, and stood to lose much in
> Harding's promised purge of corruption. In addition, as assistant head
> of the Justice Department, Smith had access to the FVZA lab, from
> which several vials of vampire blood had gone missing shortly before
> President Harding's trip west. Prevost told FVZA Director Hilton
> Dickerson of his findings; Dickerson summoned him to Washington, and
> told to bring along his report.
> Prevost left San Francisco for Washington on September 12, 1924, but
> he never reached his destination. As he stepped off the train in St.
> Louis, two men with tommy guns burst into the station and opened fire.
> Prevost was shot 12 times, and died a short time later at a nearby
> hospital. His report was never recovered.
> Eyewitness accounts of Prevost's murderers matched descriptions of
> Capone hit men Scalise and Anselmi. But before police could question
> the two men, they turned up dead, riddled with shotgun blasts in a
> Chicago barbershop.
> Post-Mortems: Although Prevost's file was gone, he left behind enough
> information in his San Francisco office to build a case against Jess
> Smith in the death of Harding. FVZA Director Hilton Dickerson had
> every intention of pursuing the case, until Smith himself wound up
> dead from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound (the gun was
> found in his right hand, but the bullet wound was in his left temple).
> Smith's death meant that, only two years after Harding's death,
> virtually everyone involved in the event was gone (Florence Harding
> died November 21, 1924). Only Al Capone remained, and he wasn't
> talking. The Harding assassination case was dropped, and Capone
> continued to prosper until he was jailed for tax evasion in 1931.
> Afflicted with syphilis, he died in Florida in 1947.
> Comments from Dr. Pecos: Is it possible that Warren Harding's close
> friend and Assistant Attorney General Jess Smith arranged and helped
> carry out the murder of the President? The evidence is certainly
> compelling. Unfortunately, we will never know the truth, and Harding's
> cause of death is still officially listed as a stroke. For Franklin
> Prevost, a man accustomed to battling the undead, the fight against
> organized crime was played out under a different set of rules. Though
> he paid for it with his life, Franklin Prevost's courage stands as a
> proud chapter in FVZA history.
> I am somehow doubtful of the Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency'sI thought they were just a conspiracy group who write parodies about
> accuracy, and I unfortunately couldn't find any other mentions of
> Frank Prevost on Google.
the vampires and zombies. I should have mentioned that in the first
place. Here is a more serious and scholarly account from the book
written by Frederick Lewis Allen published in 1931:
HARDING AND THE SCANDALS
Having been personal attorney for Warren G. Harding before he was
Senator from Ohio and while he was Senator, and thereafter until his
--And for Mrs. Harding for a period of several years, and before her
husband was elected President and after his death,
--And having been attorney for the Midland National Bank of Washington
Court House, O., and for my brother, M. S. Daugherty,
--And having been Attorney-General of the United States during the
time that President Harding served as President,
--And also for a time after President Harding's death under President
--And with all of those named, as attorney, personal friend, and
Attorney-General, my relations were of the most confidential character
as well as professional,
--I refuse to testify and answer questions put to me, because:
The answer I might give or make and the testimony I might give might
tend to incriminate me.
--Harry M. Daugherty's written reply when called upon by Judge
Thacher for information for the Federal Grand Jury in New York, March
31, 1926. (Punctuation revised.)
ON THE morning of March 4, 1921,a brilliant morning with a frosty air
and a wind which whipped the flags of WashingtonWoodrow Wilson,
broken and bent and ill, limped from the White House door to a waiting
automobile, rode down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol with the
stalwart President-elect at his side, and returned to the bitter
seclusion of his private house in S Street. Warren Gamaliel Harding
was sworn in as President of the United States. The reign of normalcy
March 4, 1921: what do those cold figures mean to you? Let us for turn
back for a moment to that day and look about us.
The war had been over for more than two years, although, as the Treaty
of Versailles had been thrown out by the Senate and Woodrow Wilson had
refused to compromise with the gentlemen at the other end of the
Avenue, a technical state of war still existed between Germany and the
United States. Business, having boomed until the middle of 1920, was
collapsing into the depths of depression and dragging down with it the
price-level which had caused so much uproar about the High Cost of
Living. The Big Red Scare was gradually ebbing, although the
super-patriots still raged and Sacco and Vanzetti had not yet come to
trial before Judge Thayer. The Ku-Klux Klan was acquiring its first
few hundred thousand members. The Eighteenth Amendment was entering
upon its second year, and rum-runners and bootleggers were beginning
to acquire confidence. The sins of the flappers were disturbing the
nation; it was at about this time that Philadelphia produced the
"moral gown" and the Literary Digest featured a symposium entitled,
"Is the Younger Generation in Peril?" The first radio broadcasting
station in the country was hardly four months old and the radio craze
was not yet. Skirts had climbed halfway to the knee and seemed likely
to go down again, a crime commission had just been investigating
Chicago's crime wave, Judge Landis had become the czar of baseball,
Dempsey and Carpentier had signed to meet the following summer at
Boyle's Thirty Acres, and Main Street and The Outline of History were
becoming best sellers.
The nation was spiritually tired. Wearied by the excitements of the
war and the nervous tension of the Big Red Scare, they hoped for quiet
and healing. Sick of Wilson and his talk of America's duty to
humanity, callous to political idealism, they hoped for a chance to
pursue their private affairs without governmental interference and to
forget about public affairs. There might be no such word in the
dictionary as normalcy, but normalcy was what they wanted.
Every new administration at Washington begins in a atmosphere of
expectant good will, but in this case the airs which lapped the
capital were particularly bland. The smile of the new President was as
warming as a spring thaw after a winter of discontent. For four long
years the gates of the White House had been locked and guarded with
sentries. Harding's first official act was to throw them open, to
permit a horde of sight-seers to roam the grounds and flatten their
noses against the executive window-panes and photograph one another
under the great north portico; to permit flivvers and trucks to detour
from Pennsylvania Avenue up the driveway and chortle right past the
presidential front door. The act seemed to symbolize the return of the
government to the people. Wilson had been denounced as an autocrat,
had proudly kept his own counsel; Harding modestly said he would rely
on the "best minds" to advise him, and took his oath of office upon
the verse from Micah which asks, "What doth the Lord require of thee
but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
Wilson had seemed to be everlastingly prying into the affairs of
business and had distrusted most business men; Harding meant to give
them as free a hand as possible "to resume their normal onward way."
And finally, whereas Wilson had been an austere academic theorist,
Harding was "just folks": he radiated an unaffected good nature, met
reporters and White House visitors with a warm handclasp and a genial
word, and touched the sentimental heart of America by establishing in
the White House a dog named Laddie Boy. "The Washington atmosphere of
today is like that of Old Home Week or a college class reunion," wrote
Edward G. Lowry shortly after Harding took office. "The change is
amazing. The populace is on a broad grin." An era of good will seemed
to be beginning.
Warren Harding had two great assets, and these were already apparent.
First, he looked as a President of the United States should. He was
superbly handsome. His face and carriage had a Washingtonian nobility
and dignity, his eyes were benign; he photographed well and the
pictures of him in the rotogravure sections won him affection and
respect. And he was the friendliest man who ever had entered the White
House. He seemed to like everybody, he wanted to do favors for
everybody, he wanted to make everybody happy. His affability was not
merely the forced affability of the cold-blooded politician; it was
transparently and touchingly genuine. "Neighbor," he had said to
Herbert Hoover at their first meeting, during the war, "I want to be
helpful." He meant it; and now that he was President, he wanted to be
helpful to neighbors from Marion and neighbors from campaign
headquarters and to the whole neighborly American public.
His liabilities were not at first so apparent, yet they were
disastrously real. Beyond the limited scope of his political
experience he was "almost unbelievably ill-informed," as William Allen
White put it. His mind was vague and fuzzy. Its quality was revealed
in the clogged style of his public addresses, in his choice of turgid
and maladroit language ("non-involvement" in European affairs,
"adhesion" to a treaty), and in his frequent attacks of suffix trouble
("normalcy" for normality, "betrothment" for betrothal). It was
revealed even more clearly in his helplessness when confronted by
questions of policy to which mere good nature could not find the
answer. White tells of Harding's coming into the office of one of his
secretaries after a day of listening to his advisers wrangling over a
tax problem, and crying out: "John, I can't make a damn thing out of
this tax problem. I listen to one side and they seem right, and
thenGod!I talk to the other side and they seem just as right, and
here I am where I started. I know somewhere there is a book that will
give me the truth, but, hell, I couldn't read the book. I know
somewhere there is an economist who knows the truth, but I don't know
where to find him and haven't the sense to know him and trust him when
I find him. God! what a job!" His inability to discover for himself
the essential facts of a problem and to think it through made him
utterly dependent upon subordinates and friends whose mental processes
were sharper than his own.
If he had been discriminating in the choice of his friends and
advisers, all might have been well. But discrimination had been left
out of his equipment. He appointed Charles Evans Hughes and Herbert
Hoover and Andrew Mellon to Cabinet positions out of a vague sense
that they would provide his administration with the necessary amount
of statesmanship, but he was as ready to follow the lead of Daugherty
or Fall or Forbes. He had little notion of technical fitness for
technical jobs. Offices were plums to him, and he handed them out like
a benevolent Santa Clausbeginning with the boys from Marion. He made
his brother-in-law Superintendent of Prisons; he not only kept the
insignificant Doctor Sawyer, of Sawyer's Sanitarium at Marion, as his
personal physician, but bestowed upon him what a White House
announcement called a "brigadier-generalcy" (suffix trouble again) and
deputed him to study the possible coordination of the health agencies
of the government; and for Comptroller of the Currency he selected D.
R. Crissinger, a Marion lawyer whose executive banking experience was
limited to a few months as president of the National City Bank and
Trust Companyof Marion.
Nor did Harding appear to be able to distinguish between honesty and
rascality. He had been trained in the sordid school of practical Ohio
politics. He had served for years as the majestic Doric false front
behind which Ohio lobbyists and fixers and purchasers of privilege had
discussed their "business propositions" and put over their "little
deals"and they, too, followed him to Washington, along with the boys
from Marion. Some of them he put into positions of power, others he
saw assuming positions of power; knowing them intimately, he must have
knownif he was capable of a minute's clear and unprejudiced
thoughthow they would inevitably use those positions; but he was too
fond of his old cronies, too anxious to have them share his good
fortune, and too muddle-minded to face the issue until it was too
late. He liked to slip away from the White House to the house in H
Street where the Ohio gang and their intimates reveled and liquor
flowed freely without undue regard for prohibition, and a man could
take his pleasure at the poker table and forget the cares of state;
and the easiest course to take was not to inquire too closely into
what the boys were doing, to hope that if they were grafting a little
on the side they'd be reasonable about it and not do anything to let
old Warren down.
And why did he choose such company? The truth was that under his
imposing exterior he was just a common small-town man, an "average
sensual man," the sort of man who likes nothing better in the world
than to be with the old bunch when they gather at Joe's place for an
all-Saturday-night session, with waistcoats unbuttoned and cigars
between their teeth and an ample supply of bottles and cracked ice at
hand. His private life was one of cheap sex episodes; as one reads the
confessions of his mistress, who claims that as President he was
supporting an illegitimate baby born hardly a year before his
election, one is struck by the shabbiness of the whole affair: the
clandestine meetings in disreputable hotels, in the Senate Office
Building (where Nan Britton believed their child to have been
conceived), and even in a coat-closet in the executive offices of the
White House itself. (Doubts have been cast upon the truth of the story
told in The President's Daughter, but is it easy to imagine any one
making up out of whole cloth a supposedly autobiographical story
compounded of such ignoble adventures?) Even making due allowance for
the refraction of Harding's personality through that of Nan Britton,
one sees with deadly clarity the essential ordinariness of the man,
the commonness of his "Gee, dearie" and "Say, you darling," his being
swindled out of a hundred dollars by card sharpers on a train ride,
his naive assurance to Nan, when detectives broke in upon them in a
Broadway hotel, that they could not be arrested because it was illegal
to detain a Senator while "en route to Washington to serve the
people." Warren Harding's ambitious wife had tailored and groomed him
into outward respectability and made a man of substance of him; yet
even now, after he had reached the White House, the rowdies of the
Ohio gang were fundamentally his sort. He had risen above them, he
could mingle urbanely with their superiors, but it was in the smoke
filled rooms of the house in H Street that he was really most at home.
Harding had no sooner arrived at the White House than a swarm of
practical politicians of the McKinley-Foraker vintage reappeared in
Washington. Blowsy gentlemen with cigars stuck in their cheeks and
rolls of very useful hundred-dollar bills in their pockets began to
infest the Washington hotels. The word ran about that you could do
business with the government nowif you only fixed things up with the
right man. The oil men licked their chops; had they not lobbied
powerfully at the Chicago convention for the nomination of just such a
man as Harding, who did not take this conservation nonsense too
seriously, and would not Harding's Secretary of the Interior, Albert
B. Fall, let them develop the national resources on friendly and not
too stringent terms? The Ohio gang chuckled over the feast awaiting
them: the chances for graft at Columbus had been a piker's chance
compared with those which the mastery of the federal government would
offer him. Warren Harding wanted to be helpful. Well, he would have a
chance to be.
The public at large, however, knew little and cared less about what
was happening behind the scenes. Their eyeswhen they bothered to look
at allwere upon the well lighted stage where the Harding
Administration was playing a drama of discreet and seemly statesmanship.
Peace with Germany, so long deferred was made by a resolution signed
by the President on July 2, 1921. The Government of the United States
was put upon a unified budget basis for the first time in history by
the passage of the Budget Act of 1921, and Charles G. Dawes, becoming
Director of the Budget, entranced the newspaper-reading public with
his picturesque language, his underslung pipe, and his broom-waving
histrionics when he harangued the bureau chiefs on behalf of business
efficiency. Immigration was restricted, being put upon a quota basis,
to the satisfaction of labor and the relief of those who felt that the
amount of melting being done in the melting-pot was disappointingly
small. Congress raised the tariff, as all good Republican Congresses
should. Secretary Mellon pleased the financial powers of the country
by arguing for the lowering of the high surtaxes upon large incomes;
and although an obstreperous Farm Bloc joined with the Democrats to
keep the maximum surtax at 50 per cent, Wall Street at least felt that
the Administration's heart was in the right place. Every foe of union
labor was sure of this when Attorney-General Daugherty confronted the
striking railway shopmen with an injunction worthy of Mitchell Palmer
himself. In January, 1923, an agreement for the funding of the British
war debt to the United States was made in Washington; it was shortly
ratified by the Senate. The outstanding achievement of the Harding
Administration, however, was undoubtedly the Washington Conference for
the Limitation of Armaments--or, as the newspapers insisted upon
calling it, the "Arms Parley."
Since the war the major powers of the world had begun once more their
race for supremacy in armament. England, the United States, and Japan
were all building ships for dear life. The rivalry between them was
rendered acute by the growing tension in the Pacific. During the war
Japan had seized her golden opportunity for the expansion of her
commercial empire: her rivals being very much occupied elsewhere, she
had begun to regard China as her special sphere of interest and to
treat it as a sort of protectorate where her commerce would have prior
rights to that of other nations. Her hand was strengthened by an
alliance with England. When Charles Evans Hughes became Secretary of
State and began to stand up for American rights in the Orient,
applying once more the traditional American policy of the Open Door,
it was soon apparent that the situation was ticklish. Japan wanted her
own way; the Americans opposed it; and there lay the Philippines,
apparently right under Japan's thumb if trouble should break out! All
three powers, Britain, Japan, and the United States, would be the
gainers by an amicable agreement about the points under dispute in the
Pacific, by the substitution of a three-cornered agreement for the
Japanese-British alliance, and by an arrangement for the limitation of
fleets. Senator Borah proposed an international conference. Harding
and Hughes took up his suggestion, the conference was called, and on
November 12, 1921the day following the solemn burial of America's
Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery-the delegates assembled in
President Harding opened the first session with a cordial if profuse
speech of welcome, and true to his policy of leaving difficult
problems to be solved by the "best minds," left Secretary Hughes and
his associates to do the actual negotiating. In this case his
hands-off policy worked well. Hughes not only had a brilliant mind, he
had a definite program and a masterly grasp of the complicated issues
at stake. President Harding had hardly walked out of Memorial
Continental Hall when the Secretary of State, installed as chairman of
the conference, began what seemed at first only the perfunctory
address of greetingand then, to the amazement of the delegates
assembled about the long conference tables, came out with a definite
and detailed program: a ten-year naval holiday, during which no
capital ships should be built; the abandonment of all
capital-shipbuilding plans, either actual or projected; the scrapping,
by the three nations, of almost two million tons of ships built or
building; and the limitation of replacement according to a 5-5-3
ratio: the American and British navies to be kept at parity and the
Japanese at three-fifths of the size of each.
"With the acceptance of this plan," concluded Secretary Hughes amid a
breathless silence, "the burden of meeting the demands of competition
in naval armament will be lifted. Enormous sums will be released to
aid the progress of civilization. At the same time the proper demands
of national defense will be adequately met and the nations will have
ample opportunity during the naval holiday of ten years to consider
their future course. Preparation for offensive naval war will stop now."
The effect of this direct and specific proposal was prodigious. At the
proposal of a naval holiday William Jennings Bryan, sitting among the
newspaper men, expressed his enthusiasm with a yell of delight. At the
conclusion of Hughes's speech the delegates broke into prolonged
applause. It was echoed by the country and by the press of the world.
People's imaginations were so stirred by the boldness and
effectiveness of the Hughes plan that the success of the conference
became almost inevitable.
After three months of negotiation the delegates of Japan, Great
Britain, and the United States had agreed upon a treaty which followed
the general lines of the Hughes program; had joined with the French in
an agreement to respect one another's insular possessions in the
Pacific, and to settle all disagreements by conciliatory negotiations;
had prepared the way for the withdrawal of Japan from Shantung and
Siberia; and had agreed to respect the principle of the open door in
China. The treaties were duly ratified by the Senate. The immediate
causes of friction in the Pacific were removed; and although cynics
might point out that competition in cruisers and submarines was little
abated and that battleships were almost obsolete anyhow, the Naval
Treaty at least lessened the burden of competition, as Secretary
Hughes had predicted, and in addition set a precedent of profound
importance. The armaments which a nation built were now definitely
recognized as being a matter of international concern, subject to
Outwardly, then,things seemed to be going well for Warren Harding. He
was personally popular; his friendly attitude toward business
satisfied the conservative temper of the country; his Secretary of the
Treasury was being referred to, wherever two or three bankers or
industrialists gathered together, as the "greatest since Alexander
Hamilton"; his Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover, was aiding trade
as efficiently as he had aided the Belgians; and even discouraged
idealists had to admit that the Washington Conference had been no mean
achievement. Though there were rumors of graft and waste and
mismanagement in some departments of the Government, and the director
of the Veterans' Bureau had had to leave his office in disgrace, and
there was noisy criticism in Congress of certain leases Of oil lands
to Messrs. Doheny and Sinclair, these things attracted only a mild
public interest. When Harding left in the early summer of 1923 for a
visit to Alaska, few people realized that anything was radically wrong
with his administration. When, on his way home, he fell ill with what
appeared to be ptomaine poisoning, and on his arrival at Sari
Francisco his illness went into pneumonia, the country watched the
daily headlines with affectionate concern. And when, just as the
danger appeared to have been averted, he died suddenlyon August 2,
1923of what his physicians took to be a stroke of apoplexy, the
whole nation was plunged into deepand genuine grief.
The President's body was placed upon a special train, which proceeded
across the country at the best possible speed to Washington. All along
the route, thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children were
gathered to see it slip by. Cowboys on the Western hills dismounted
and stood uncovered as the train passed. In the cities the throngs of
mourners were so dense that the engineer had to reduce his speed and
the train fell hours behind schedule. "It is believed," wrote a
reporter for the New York Times, "to be the most remarkable
demonstration in American history of affection, respect, and reverence
for the dead." When Warren Harding's body, after lying in state at
Washington, was taken to Marion for burial, his successor proclaimed a
day of public mourning, business houses were closed, memorial services
were held from one end of the country to the other, flags hung at half
mast, and buildings were draped in black.
The innumerable speeches made that day expressed no merely perfunctory
sentiments; everywhere people felt that a great-hearted man, bowed
down with his labors in their behalf, had died a martyr to the service
of his country. The dead President was called "a majestic figure who
stood out like a rock of consistency"; it was said that "his vision
was always on the spiritual"; and Bishop Manning of New York, speaking
at a memorial service in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, seemed
to be giving the fallen hero no more than his due when he cried, "If I
could write one sentence upon his monument it would be this, 'He
taught us the power of brotherliness.' It is the greatest lesson that
any man can teach us. It is the spirit of the Christian religion. In
the spirit of brotherliness and kindness we can solve all the problems
that confront us. . . . May God ever give to our country leaders as
faithful, as wise, as noble in spirit, as the one whom we now mourn."
But as it happens, there are some problemsat least for a President of
the United Statesthat the spirit of brotherliness and kindness will
not alone solve. The problem, for example, of what to do when those to
whom you have been all too brotherly have enmeshed your administration
in graft, and you know that the scandal cannot long be concealed, and
you feel your whole life-work toppling into disgrace. That was the
problem which had killed Warren Harding.
A rumor that the President committed suicide by taking poison later
gained wide currency through the publication of Samuel Hopkins Adams's
Revelry, a novel largely based on the facts of the Harding
Administration. Gaston B. Means, a Department of justice detective and
a member of the gang which revolved about Daugherty, implied only too
clearly in The Strange Death of President Harding that the President
was poisoned by his wife, with the connivance of Doctor Sawyer. The
motive, according to Means, was a double one: Mrs. Harding had found
out about Nan Britton and the illegitimate daughter and was consumed
with a bitter and almost insane jealousy; and she had learned enough
about the machinations of Harding's friends and the power that they
had over him to feel that only death could save him from obloquy. Both
the suicide theory and the Means story are very plausible. The
ptomaine poisoning came, it was said, from eating crab meat on the
presidential boat on the return from Alaska, but the list of supplies
in the steward's pantry contained no crab meat and no one else in the
presidential party was taken ill; furthermore, the fatal "stroke of
apoplexy" occurred when the President was recovering from pneumonia,
Mrs. Harding was apparently alone with him at the time, and the
verdict of the physicians, not being based upon an autopsy, was hardly
more than an expression of opinion. Yet it is not necessary to accept
any such melodramatic version of the tragedy to acknowledge that
Harding died a victim of the predicament in which he was caught. He
knew too much of what had been going on in his administration to be
able to face the future. On the Alaskan trip, he was clearly in a
state of tragic fear; according to William Allen White, "he kept
asking Secretary Hoover and the more trusted reporters who surrounded
him what a President should do whose friends had betrayed him."
Whatever killed him-poison or heart failure-did so the more easily
because he had lost the will to live.
Of all this, of course, the country as a whole guessed nothing at the
time. Their friend and President was dead, they mourned his death, and
they applauded the plans of the Harding Memorial Association to raise
a great monument in his honor. It was only afterward that the truth
came out, piece by piece.
The martyred President had not been long in his grave when the
peculiar circumstances under which the Naval Oil Reserves at Teapot
Dome and Elk Hills had been leased began to be unearthed by the Senate
Committee on Public Lands, and there was little by little disclosed
what was perhaps the gravest and most far-reaching scandal of the
Harding Administration. The facts of the case, as they were ultimately
established, were, briefly, as follows:
Since 1909 three tracts of oil-bearing government land had been
legally set aside for the future hypothetical needs of the United
States navyas a sort of insurance policy against a possible shortage
of oil in time of emergency. They were Naval Reserve No. 1 at Elk
Hills, California; No. 2, at Buena Vista, California; and No. 3, at
Teapot Dome, Wyoming. As time went on, it became apparent that the oil
under these lands might be in danger of being drawn off by neighboring
wells, the flow of oil under the earth being such that if you drill a
well you are likely to bring up not only the oil from under your own
land, but also that from under your neighbor's land. As to the extent
of this danger to these particular properties there was wide
disagreement; but when gushers were actually opened up right on the
threshold of the Elk Hills Reserve, Congress took action. In 1920 it
gave the Secretary of the Navy almost unlimited power to meet as he
saw fit the problem of conserving the Reserves. Clearly there were at
least two possible courses of action open to him. He might arrange to
have offset wells drilled along the edge of the Reserves to neutralize
the drainage, or he might lease the Reserves to private operators on
condition that they store an equitable amount of the oilor of fuel
oilfor the future requirements of the national defense. Secretary
Daniels preferred to have offset wells drilled.
But when Albert B. Fall became Secretary of the Interior under
President Harding, he decided otherwise. During 1921on the eve of the
Conference for the Limitation of Armamentscertain high officers in
the navy were sufficiently nervous about possible trouble with Japan
to declare that the navy must at once have fuel oil storage depots
built and filled and ready for use at Pearl Harbor and other strategic
points. This idea suited Mr. Fall perfectly. He had come into office
as the ally of certain big oil interests, and being a politician
without illusions, he saw a chance to do them a favor. He would lease
the reserves in their entirety to private operators, and meet the
needs of the navy by using the royalty oil which these operators paid
the Government for the purpose of buying fuel oil tanks and filling
them with fuel oil. To be sure, the Secretary of the Navy alone had
power to lease the Reserves, and Fall was not the Secretary of the
Navy; but that was not an insuperable difficulty.
Less than three months after President Harding took office, he signed
an Executive Order transferring the Reserves from the custody of the
Secretary of the Navy to that of the Secretary of the Interior. On
April 7, 1922, Fall secretly and without competitive bidding leased
Reserve No. 3, the Teapot Dome Reserve, to Harry F. Sinclair's Mammoth
Oil Company. On December 11, 1922, he secretly and without competitive
bidding leased Reserve No. 1, the Elk Hills Reserve, to Edward F.
Doherty's Pan-American Company. It has been argued that these leases
were fair to the Government and that no undue profits would have
accrued to the lessees if the contracts had been allowed to stand. It
has been argued that the necessity for keeping secret what were
thought of as military arrangements was sufficient excuse for the
absence of competitive bidding and the complete absence of publicity.
But it was later discovered that Fall had received from Sinclair some
$260,000 in Liberty bonds, and that Fall had been "lent" by
Dohenywithout interest and without security$100,000 in cash.
After a long series of Senate investigations, governmental lawsuits,
and criminal trials which dragged out through the rest of the decade,
the Doheny lease was voided by the Supreme Court as "Illegal and
fraudulent," the Sinclair lease was also voided, and Secretary Fall
was found guilty of accepting a bribe from Doheny and sentenced to a
year in prison. Secretary of the Navy Denby-who had amiably approved
the transfer of the Reserves from his charge to that of Fallwas
driven from office by public criticism. Paradoxically, both Doheny and
Sinclair were acquitted. But Sinclair had to serve a double term in
prison in 1929: first, for contempt of the Senate in refusing to
answer questions put to him by the Committee on Public Lands, and
second, for contempt of court in having the jury at his first trial
shadowed by Burns detectives. (One of the jurors declared that a man
had approached him with the suggestion that if he voted right he would
have an automobile "as long as this block.")
Such are the bare facts of the oil lease transactions. But they are
only a part of the story. For after the Senate Committee's first
important disclosures, early in 1924, and President Coolidge's
appointment of the useful Mr. Owen Roberts and the ornamental
Ex-Senator Atlee Pomerene as a bi-partisan team of Government
prosecutors to take whatever legal action might be called for on
behalf of the Government, Messrs. Roberts and Pomerene discovered that
certain bonds transferred by Sinclair to Fall had come from the
exchequer of a hitherto unheard-of concern called the Continental
Trading Company, Ltd., of Canada. And the history of the Continental
Trading Company, Ltd., as it was gradually dragged to light, was not
only highly sensational but highly illuminating as a case-study in
current American business ethics. This is what had happened:
On the 17th of November, 1921a few months before the Fall-Sinclair
contract was madea little group of men gathered in a room at the
Hotel Vanderbilt in New York for a business session. They included
Col. E. A. Humphreys, the owner of the rich Mexia oil field; Harry M.
Blackmer of the Midwest Oil Company; James E. O'Neil of the Prairie
Oil Company; Colonel Robert W. Stewart, chairman of the board of the
Standard Oil Company of Indiana; and Harry F. Sinclair, head of the
Sinclair Consolidated Oil Company. At that meeting Colonel Humphreys
agreed to sell 33,333,333 barrels of oil from his oil field at $1.50 a
barrel. But he discovered that he was not, as he had supposed, to sell
this oil directly to the companies represented by the other men
present. He was asked to sell it to a concern of which he had never
heard, a concern which had only just been incorporatedthe Continental
Trading Company, Ltd. The contract of sale was guaranteed on behalf of
the mysterious Continental Company by Sinclair and O'Neil. And the
Continental straightway resold the oil to Sinclair's and O'Neil's
companies, not at $1.50 a barrel, but at $1.75 a barrelthereby
diverting to the coffers of the Continental a nice profit of
twenty-five cents a barrel which might otherwise have gone to the
other companies whose executives were gathered together. A profit, it
might be added, which in the course of time should amount to over
eight million dollars.
As a matter of fact, it never amounted to as much as that. For after a
year or more the Senate became unduly inquisitive and it was thought
best to wind up the affairs of the Continental Trading Company, Ltd.,
and destroy its records. But before this was done, the profit of that
little deal pulled off at the Hotel Vanderbilt had piled up to more
than three millions.
With these millions, as they rolled in, President Osler, the
distinguished Canadian attorney who headed the Continental, purchased
Liberty bonds. And the bulk of these bonds (after taking out a
2-per-cent share for himself) he turned over, in packages, to four of
the gentlemen who had sat in on the conference at the Vanderbilt, as
To Harry M. Blackmer, approximately $763,000.
To James E. O'Neil, approximately $800,000.
To Colonel Robert W. Stewart, approximately $759,000.
Harry F. Sinclair, approximately $757,000.
And did these gentlemen at once report to their directors and
stockholders the receipt of the bonds and put them into the corporate
treasuries? They did not.
Blackmer, according to the subsequent (very subsequent) testimony of
his counsel, put his share in a safety deposit box at the Equitable
Trust Company in New York, where in 1928 it still remained.
O'Neil turned over his share to his company, but not until May, 1925.
Stewart handed his share to an employee of the Standard oil Company of
Indiana to be held in trust for the company in the vaults of the
company, but never told any other associates of this except one member
of the company's legal staff, and never disclosed to his directors
what he had done until 1928, when he finally turned over the bonds to
them. The trust agreement was written in pencil.
Sinclair, according to his own testimony, did not take the directors
or officers of his company into his confidence until 1928, and kept
his share of the bonds in a vault in his home. He did not keep all of
them there very long, however, or the brave history of the Continental
Trading Company, Ltd., might never have come to light. A goodly
portion of them (as we have already seen) he turned over to Fall.
Another goodly portion, amounting to $185,000, he "loaned" (in
addition to an outright gift Of $75,000), to the Republican National
Committee, later getting back $100,000 of it The "loan" was made to
Will H. Hays, who had been chairman of the Republican National
Committee during the Harding-Cox campaign of 1920, had later been
appointed Postmaster-General by President Harding, and had finally
resigned to become supervisor of morals for the motion-picture
industry. Mr. Hays was czar of the movies by the time Sinclair handed
him the bonds, but being a conscientious man, he was trying to get the
1920 Republican campaign debt paid off. To this end he attempted to
use the Sinclair "loan" in a very interesting way. He and his
lieutenants approached a number of wealthy men, potential donors to
the cause, and told them that if they would contribute to meet the
deficit they might have Sinclair bonds to the amount of their
contributions. How long they might keep the bonds was not made
clear--at least in Hays's testimony before the Senate Committee on
Public Lands. This method of concealing an enormous Sinclair
contribution was euphemistically called, by the moral supervisor of
the movies, "using the bonds in efforts to raise money for the deficit."
So much for our little lesson in governmental practice and in the
fiduciary duties of business executives in behalf of their
stockholders. Now let us turn to the lighter side of the oil scandals.
Lighter, that is, for those who were in no way implicated. There is a
certain grim humor in the twistings and turnings of unwilling
witnesses under the implacable cross-examination of Senator Walsh of
Montana, without whose resourceful work the truth might never have
been run to earth. Some of the scenes in the slowly-unfolding drama of
the investigations, some of the sojourns of interested parties on
foreign shores, some of the odd tricks of memory revealed, are not
without an element of entertainment. Let us go back over the record of
that long investigation and study a few of them, item by item.
Item One. Who Loaned Fall the Money?
In the autumn of 1923not long after Harding's lamented deathSenator
Walsh's committee learned of a recent sudden rise to affluence on the
part of Secretary Fall. For some time previously Fall had been in
financial straits; he had not even paid his local taxes for several
years. But now all was changed. Mr. Fall had even purchased additional
land near his New Mexican ranch, and in this purchase had used a
considerable number of hundred-dollar bills. The Walsh committee at
once became bloodhounds on the scent: hundred-dollar bills are as
exciting to investigators as refusals to testify or refusals to waive
immunity. From whom had Fall been receiving money? Fall wrote the
committee a long letter, denying absolutely that he had ever received
a dollar from Mr. Doheny or Mr. Sinclair, and in tones of outraged
innocence explained that he had received a loan of $100,000 from
Edward B. McLean of Washington, a millionaire newspaper-owner whose
ample hospitality Harding and his associates had often enjoyed.
Mr. McLean was in Palm Beach and unable to come to Washington to
testify about this loan. The committee might perhaps have been
expected to let the matter go at that. But they did not. Mr. McLean
was wantedand it began to appear that he was extremely unwilling to
be examined. He and his friends engaged in a voluminous correspondence
by coded telegrams with his aides in Washington, discussing the
progress of affairs in messages such as
Haxpw sent over buy bonka and householder bonka sultry tkvouep
prozoics sepic bepelt goal hocusing this pouted proponent
Finally Senator Walsh all too obligingly journeyed to Palm Beach to
take McLean's testimony there. Yes, McLean had made a loan to Fall.
But he had made it in the form of three checks. Secretary Fall had
shortly returned the checks; they had not even passed through the
banks, and there was no record whatever of the transaction.
Clearly this brief and unusual financial transaction threw little
light on the prosperity of the Ex-Secretary of the Interior or his use
of cash in large denominations. Another explanation was necessary.
Whereuponon January 24, 1924the lessee of Naval Reserve No. 1,
Edward L. Doheny, took the stand. He, too, had loaned $100,000 to
Fall. The money had been carried from New York to Washington in a
satchel. But the loan had nothing to do with any lease of oil-bearing
land. It was a bona fide loan made to accommodate an old friend. The
elderly oil magnate drew a touching picture of his long years of
comradeship with Fall. Was $100,000 a rather large sum to be loaned
this way in cash? Why, no, it was "just a bagatelle" to him. It was
not at all unusual for him "to make a remittance that way." Was there
a note given for the loan? Yes; Doheny would search for it. Later he
produced itor rather, a fragment of it. The signature was missing.
Fearing that he might die and that Fall might be unduly pressed for
payment by cold-blooded executors, Doheny had torn the note in half
and given the part with the signature of Mrs. Dohenyand she had
mislaid it. The explanation was perfectthough some years later the
Supreme Court seemed to regard it with skepticism.
Item Two. Six or Eight Cows
Just before the generous Doheny took the stand, the newspapers had
been treated to a first-class front-page story. Archie Roosevelt, so
of the great T.R. and brother of the lesser T.R. (who was Harding's
Assistant Secretary of Navy), had come before the Walsh Committee as a
volunteer witness. Archie Roosevelt was an officer in one of the
Sinclair companies, and he had something to get off his mind. His
brother had urged him to tell all. He (Archie) had been told by one
G.D. Walberg, confidential secretary to Sinclair, that Sinclair had
paid $68,000 to the manager of Fall's ranch, a circumstance which, in
view of the relentless way in which Senator Walsh was running down
evidence, apparently had caused Wahlberg some uneasiness. Furthermore,
Sinclair had sailed for Europenot only had sailed, but had done so
very quietly, without letting his name appear on the passenger list.
The committee called Wahlberg. This gentleman was even more uneasy at
the committee table than he had been in talking to Archie Roosevelt,
but he had a charming explanation for what he was said to have said.
Roosevelt must have misunderstood him. He had said nothing about
$68,000. What he must have said was that Sinclair had sent "six or
eight cows" to Fall's ranch. (Which was true, after a manner of
speaking: Sinclair had indeed made a present of live stock to Fall;
not precisely "six or eight cows," but a horse, six hogs, a bull, and
six heifers.) You see how the misunderstanding arose? You see how much
"sixty-eight thous" sounds like "six or eight cows"?
The Committee on Public Lands did not seem to see. They lifted a
collective eyebrow. So a little later Wahlberg tried again. This time
his explanation was even more delightful. He had been consulting his
memory, and had decided that what he must actually have said when he
sounded as if he were talking about $68,000 going to the manager of
the Fall ranch, or the Fall farm, was that $68,000 was going to the
manager of the "horse farm"by which he had meant the trainer at
Sinclair's celebrated Rancocas Stables. This $68,000 represented the
salary of Hildreth, the trainer, together with his share of the
winnings of Zev and other Sinclair horses.
"Horse farm"there seemed to be something less than idiomatic about
the phrase. The collective eyebrow was not lowered.
Item Three. The Silences of Colonel Stewartand Others
The Senate committee was hot on the trailor rather on two trails. But
then and thereafter the various gentlemen who could give it the
greatest assistance in following these trails to the end revealed a
strange reluctance to talk and a strange condition of memory when they
did talk. Secretary Fall was declared by his physicians to be a "very
sick man" who ought not to be pressed to testify. When he finally did
testify, he refused to answer questions which might "tend to
incriminate" him. Sinclair, as Archie Roosevelt had told the
committee, had gone to Europe; after he returned, he too refused to
answer questions; it was this refusal which led to his conviction for
contempt. After his acquittal on the graver charge of conspiracy to
defraud the government he at last spoke out; he admitted that he had
turned over the bonds to Fall, but insisted that they were given in
payment for a one-third interest in Fall's ranching and cattle business.
Blackmer had gone to Europe and could not be induced to return. O'Neil
had gone to Europe and could not be induced to return. Osler of the
Continental Trading Company was somewhere at the ends of the earth.
And as for Colonel Stewart, only the insistence of John D.
Rockefeller, Jr., induced him to come from Cuba to face the committee.
When he did face it, early in 1928, he testified as follows: "I did
not personally receive any of these bonds. I did not make one dollar
out of the transaction." Less than two months later, after Sinclair's
acquittal had somewhat reduced the tension, he admitted that over
three-quarters of a million dollars' worth of these bonds had been
delivered to him, and that he had not told the directors of his
company about them for several years.
Item Four. The Testimony of Mr. Hays
In 1924 Will H. Hays, preceptor of motion-picture morality, was called
before the Senate committee. He was asked how much money Sinclair had
contributed to the Republican Party. Seventy-five thousand dollars, he
In 1928, after the history of the Continental bonds had become
somewhat clearer, Mr. Hays was asked to face the committee again. He
told them the full story of Sinclair's "loan" of $185,000 in addition
to his gift. Why had he not told this before? He had not been "asked
about any bonds."
Item Five. The Reticence of Mr. Mellon
A few days after Mr. Hays gave his second and improved version of the
Sinclair contributions, the cashier of Charles Pratt & Company was
called before the committee to testify about $50,000 worth of
Sinclair-Continental Liberty bonds which had been left by Hays with
the late John T. Pratt, to be held agains a contribution of the same
amountafter the ingenious Hays planby Mr. Pratt to the Republican
Committee. The cashier produced a card on which Mr. Pratt had noted
the disposal of the bonds and the payment of his contribution. And in
the corner of this card was a minute notation in pencil, as follows:
Senator Walsh examined the card.
Senator Walsh: I can make out "Weeks," and I can make out "DuPont,"
and I can make out "Butler," but what is this other name? It looks
The Cashier (using a magnifying glass): It's Weeks, DuPont, Butler,
and the other name must be Candy. . . . Yes, it might be Andy.
Senator Nye: And who is Andy?
The Cashier: I have no idea who Andy can be. I can think of no one
known as Andy.
There was a roar from the crowd in the room. Everybody knew who Andy
must be. Senator WAlsh dispatched a note to Andrew W. Mellon,
Secretary of the Treasury, to ask him if he could explain the
notation. This Mr. Mellon obligingly did without delay.
Late in 1923, Mr. Mellon explainedat just about the time when the
Teapot Dome investigation was getting under wayHays had sent him some
bonds. "When Mr. Hays called shortly thereafter, he told me that he
had received the bonds from Mr. Sinclair and suggested that I hold the
bonds and contribute an equal amount to the fund. This I declined to do."
The Secretary had acted with strict integrity. He had sent the bonds
back, and instead of following Hays's suggestion he had made an
outright contribution of $50,000. He added that he had "had no
knowledge of what has developed since, that is, of the Teapot Dome
It is perhaps worth noting, however, that this testimony was given in
1928. For more than three years not only the Senate committee, but
Messrs. Roberts and Pomerene, the public attorneys appointed by
President Coolidge to prosecute the government suits, had been trying
to discover just what had become of the Continental bonds, and during
all that time the Secretary of the Treasury was aware that in 1923 he
had been offered Liberty bonds which came from Sinclair. He said
nothing until that little card turned up with Andy (or possibly Candy)
penciled on it. A small matter, perhaps; but surely it revealed the
Secretary as a paragon of reticence when his testimony might cast
discredit on the money-raising methods of his party.
Thus comes to an endas of this writing, at leastthe remarkable story
of Teapot Dome and Elk Hills and the Continental Trading Company, Ltd.
The Executive Order transferring the leases, which may be said to have
begun it all, was promulgated in June, 1921, when Harding was new in
office, and the Stillman divorce trial was impending, and Dempsey was
preparing to meet Carpentier, and young Charles Lindbergh had not yet
taken his first ride in an airplane. By the time Sinclair and Stewart
had told their stories and Hays had revised himself and Secretary
Mellon had overcome his reticence, Lindbergh had flown to Europe and
Herbert Hoover was corralling delegates for the Republican nomination;
by the time Harry Sinclair emerged from his unwelcome term of service
as apothecary in the Washington jail, the bull market had come down in
ruin and the Post-war Decade was dying. Secretary Fall's term as
guardian of the national resources for the Harding Administration had
been brief, but the aftermath had been as long and harrowing as it was
Oh yesthere is one more thing to add. The oil: what became of the oil
that started it all, the oil that the patriots of the Navy Department
had been so anxious to have immediately available in case of trouble
in the Pacific? There had been a good deal of excitement about bonds
and hundred-thousand-dollar loans, but everybody seemed to have
forgotten about that oil. Production in the properties leased to
Sinclair and Doheny was stopped; but you may recall that the danger of
drainage into neighboring wells went right on producing, and it is
said that part of the oil from themincluding, in all probability,
some drawn from within the Reserveswas sold to the Japanese Government!
The oil cases were the aristocrats among the scandals of the Harding
Administration, but there were other scandals juicier and more
reeking. Let us hold our noses for a moment and examine a few of them
There was, for example, the almost incredible extravagance and
corruption of the Veterans' Bureau under Charles R. Forbes, a
buccaneer of fortune (and one-time deserter from the army) whom
Harding had fallen in with on a visit to Hawaii. Harding was so taken
with Forbes that in 1921 he put him in charge of the Government's work
for those disabled war heroes in whose behalf every public man
considered it his duty to shed an appreciative tear. Forbes held
office for less than two years, and during that time it was estimated
that over two hundred million dollars went astray in graft and
flagrant waste on the part of his Bureau. Forbes went on a notorious
junket through the country, supposedly selecting hospital sites which
in reality had already been chosen. His Bureau let contracts for
veterans' hospitals almost without regard for price; for instance, a
contract for a hospital at Northampton was let to a firm which asked
some thirty thousand dollars more than the lowest bidder. It was
charged that Forbes had an arrangement with the builders of some
hospitals whereby he was to pocket a third of the profits.
Preposterous purchases of hospital supplies were made: the Veterans'
Bureau bought $70,000 worth of floor wax and floor cleaner, for
instanceenough, it was said, to last a hundred yearsand for the
cleaner it paid 98 cents a gallon, although expert testimony later
brought out the fact that it was worth less than 4 cents a gallon
exclusive of the water which it contained. Quantities of surplus goods
were sold with the same easy disregard for price: 84,000 brand-new
sheets which had cost $1.37 each were sold at 26 or 27 cents apiece,
although at that very moment the Bureau was purchasing 25,000 new ones
at $1.03 apiece. "At one time," reported Bruce Bliven, "sheets just
bought were actually going in at one end of the warehouse [at
Perryville, Maryland] as the ones just sold were going out the other,
and some of them by mistake went straight in and out again." More than
75,000 towels which had cost 19 cents each were sold for 3 3/8 cents
each. These few facts are enough to show with what generous abandon
Forbes spent the money appropriated to care for the defenders of the
Republic. Forbes went to Leavenworth in 1926 for fraud.
There was rampant graft in the office of the Allen Property Custodian
as well. Gaston B. Means has charged that attorneys who came to
Washington to file claims for the return of properties taken over from
Germans during the war were advised to consult a Boston lawyer named
Thurston, that Thurston would charge them a big fee for his services,
the claim would be allowed, and the fee would be split with those in
authority. Be that as it may, the evidence brought out in the American
Metal Company case was sufficient to indicate the sort of transaction
which was permitted to take place.
The American Metal Company was an internationally owned concern 49 per
cent of whose stock had been taken over by the Allen Property
Custodian during the war on the ground that it belonged to Germans.
This stock had been sold for $6,000,000. In 1921 a certain Richard
Merton appeared at the Custodian's office with the claim that this 49
per cent had not been German, but Swiss, and that the Swiss owners,
whom he represented, should be reimbursed. The claim was allowed after
Merton had paid $441,000 in Liberty bonds to John T. King, Republican
National Committeeman from Connecticut, for "services" which consisted
of introducing him to Colonel T. W. Miller, the Custodian, and to Jess
Smith, Attorney-General Daugherty's man Friday. It was brought out at
Miller's trial that at least $200,000 of this $441,000 was paid over
to Jess Smith "for expediting the claim through his acquaintance in
Washington"; that Mal S. Daugherty, brother of the Attorney-General,
sold at least $40,000 worth of Merton Liberty bonds and shortly
thereafter deposited $49,165 to his brother's account; and that
Colonel Miller also got a share of the money. Miller was convicted in
1927 of conspiracy to defraud the Government of his unbiased services
and was sentenced to eighteen Months in prison. Daugherty was also
brought to trial, but got off. After two juries had been unable to
agree as to his guilt or innocence, the indictment against him was
dismissed-but not before it had been brought out that in 1925 this
former chief legal officer of the Government had gone to his brother's
bank at Washington Court House, Ohio, and had taken out and burned the
ledger sheets covering his own account there, and his brother's
account, and another account known as "Jesse Smith Extra."
It was during the grand jury investigation which preceded the American
Metal Company case that Harding's Attorney-General wrote the
remarkable statement which appears at the head of this chapter. During
his trial Daugherty failed to take the stand in his own defense, and
his attorney, Max Steuer, later explained this failure in another
equally remarkable statement:
"It was not anything connected with this case which impelled him to
refrain from so doing. . . . He feared . . . that Mr. Buckner would
cross-examine him about matters political that would not involve Mr.
Daugherty, concerning which he knew and as to which he would never
make disclosure. . . . If the jury knew the real reason for destroying
the ledger sheets they would commend rather than condemn Mr.
Daugherty, but he insisted on silence."
Could there be a more deliberate implication that Harding's
Attorney-General could not tell the truth for fear of blackening the
reputation of his dead chief? Call Daugherty's silence, if you wish,
the silence of loyalty, or call those statements an effort to hide
behind the dead President; in either case the Harding Administration
appears in a strange light.
Charges still more damaging were boldly made by Gaston B. Means in
1930. He stated that as a henchman of the Ohio gang he used to engage
two adjoining rooms at a New York hotel for the collection of
prohibition graft from bootleggers who were willing to pay for federal
protection; that he would place a big goldfish-bowl in one of the
rooms, on a table which he could see by peeping through the door from
the next room; that each bootlegger would come at his appointed hour
and minute and leave in the bowl huge amounts of cash in
thousand-dollar or five-hundred-dollar bills; that as soon as the
bootlegger left, Means would enter, count the money, and check off the
contribution; and that in this way be collected a total of fully seven
million dollars which he turned over to Jess Smith, the
collector-in-chief for the Ohio Gang, who shared an apartment in
Washington with Attorney-General Daugherty.
Means further asserted that the swag from this and other forms of
graft was kept hiddenmany thousand dollars at a timein a metal box
buried in the back yard of the house which he occupied at 903
Sixteenth Street in Washington; he described this house and yard as
being protected with a high wire fence and fitted out with a code
signal system and other secret devices such as would delight a gang of
small boys playing pirate.
Jess Smith committed suicideat least that was the official verdictin
1923 in the apartment which he shared with Harry Daugherty. Means
claimed that just before this tragedy took place, the gang had
discovered that Smith, like the careful shopkeeper he had been before
he was brought to Washington by Daugherty to occupy a desk in the
Department of justicehad kept a record of all the cash which had
passed through his hands, and that Smith, terrified at the thought of
his guilt and his secret knowledge, had been playing with the idea of
turning state's witness against the gang. According to Means, the gang
thereupon decided that Smith must be disposed of. Although Smith was
afraid of firearms, he was persuaded to purchase a revolver on One of
his trips to Ohio. And the "suicide" which followedso Means plainly
indicated, as many others had already suspectedwas no suicide at all.
Finally, Means drew attention to the astonishing mortality among those
who had been in on the secrets of the gang. Not only had Smith dropped
out of the picture, but also John T. King (who had received the Merton
bonds), C. F. Hately (a Department of justice agent), C. F. Cramer
(attorney for the Veterans' Bureau), Thurston (the Boston lawyer who
represented many clients before the Alien Property Custodian), T. B.
Felder (attorney for the Harding group), President Harding, Mrs.
Harding, and General Sawyer. They had all diedmost of them
suddenlywithin a few years of the end of the Harding Administration.
No matter how much or how little credence one may give to these latter
charges and their implications, the proved evidence is enough to
warrant the statement that the Harding Administration was responsible
in its short two years and five months for more concentrated robbery
and rascality than any other in the whole history of the Federal
And how did the American people take these disclosures? Did they rise
in wrath to punish the offenders?
When the oil scandals were first spread across the front pages of the
newspapers, early in 1924, there was a wave of excitement sufficient
to force the resignations of Denby and Daugherty and to bring about
the appointment by the new President, Calvin Coolidge, of special
Government counsel to deal with the oil cases. But the harshest
condemnation on the part of the press and the public was reserved, not
for those who had defrauded the government, but for those who insisted
on bringing the facts to light. Senator Walsh, who led the
investigation of the oil scandals, and Senator Wheeler, who
investigated the Department of justice, were called by the New York
Tribune "the Montana scandalmongers." The New York Evening Post called
them mud-gunners." The New York Times, despite its Democratic
leanings, called them "assassins of character." In these and other
newspapers throughout the country one read of the "Democratic
lynching-bee" and "poison-tongued partisanship, pure malice, and
twittering hysteria," and the inquiries were called "in plain words,
contemptible and disgusting."
Newspaper-readers echoed these amiable sentiments. Substantial
business men solemnly informed one another that mistakes might have
been made but that it was unpatriotic to condemn them and thus to
"cast discredit on the Government," and that those who insisted on
probing them to the bottom were "nothing better than Bolsheviki." One
of the leading super-patriots of the land, Fred R. Marvin of the Key
Men of America, said the whole oil scandal was the result of "a
gigantic international conspiracy . . . of the internationalists, or
shall we call them socialists and communists?" A commuter riding daily
to New York from his suburb at this period observed that on the
seven-o'clock train there was some indignation at the scandals, but
that on the eight-o'clock train there was only indignation at their
exposure and that on the nine-o'clock train they were not even
mentioned. When, a few months later, John W. Davis, campaigning for
the Presidency on the Democratic ticket, made political capital of the
Harding scandals, the opinion of the majority seemed to be that what
he said was in bad taste, and Davis was snowed under at the polls. The
fact was that any relentless investigation of the scandals threatened
to disturb, if only slightly, the status quo, and disturbance of the
status quo was the last thing that the dominant business class or the
country at large wanted.
They had voted for normalcy and they still believed in it. The most
that they required of the United States Government was that it should
keep its hands off business (except to give it a lift now and then
through the imposition of favorable tariffs and otherwise) and be
otherwise unobtrusive. They did not look for bold and far-seeing
statesman. ship at Washington; their idea of statesmanship on the part
of the President was that he should let things alone, give industry
and trade a chance to garner fat profits, and not "rock the boat."
They realized that their selection of Harding had been something of a
false start toward the realization of this modest ideal. Harding had
been a little too hail-fellow-well-met, and his amiability had led him
into associations which brought about unfortunate publicity, and
unfortunate publicity had a tendency to rock the boat. But the basic
principle remained sound: all the country needed now was a President
who combined with unobtrusiveness and friendliness toward business an
unimpeachable integrity and an indisposition to have his leg pulled;
and this sort of President they now had. The inscrutable workings of
Providence had placed in the office left vacant by Harding the precise
embodiment of this revised presidential ideal. Calvin Coolidge was
unobtrusive to the last degree; he would never try to steer the ship
of state into unknown waters; and at the same time he was sufficiently
honest and circumspect to prevent any unseemly revelry from taking
place on the decks. Everything was, therefore, as it should be. Why
weaken public confidence in Harding's party, and thus in Harding's
successor, by going into the unfortunate episodes of the past? The
best thing to do was to let bygones be bygones.
As the years went by and the scandals which came to light grew in
number and in scope, it began to appear that the "mistakes" of 1921-23
had been larger than the friends of normalcy had supposed when they
vented their spleen upon Senator Walsh. But the testimony, coming out
intermittently as it did, was confusing and hard to piece together;
plain citizens could not keep clear in their minds such complicated
facts as those relating to the Continental bonds or the Daugherty
bank-accounts; and the steady passage of time made the later
investigations seem like a washing of very ancient dirty linen.
Business was good, the Coolidge variety of normalcy was working to the
satisfaction of the country, Coolidge was honest; why dwell
unnecessarily on the past? Resentment at the scandals and resentment
at the scandalmongers both gave way to a profound and untroubled
apathy. When the full story of the Continental Trading Company deal
became known, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., as a large stockholder in the
Standard Oil of Indiana, waged war against Colonel Stewart and managed
to put him out of the chairmanship of the company; but the business
world as a whole seemed to find nothing wrong in Colonel Stewart's
performance. The voice of John the B<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
- My recollection of Jess Smith is that he was a crony,
who was a frequent companion of Florence Harding, who
he and Warren called 'Duchess' due to her overblown
aristocratic airs. He also acted as a liaison for
Warren's affairs, including sneaking women into the
White House. I seem to remember that he was found dead
in an apparent suicide, a bullet to his right temple
and though he was left-handed, the AG refused to
investigate, the insinuation being that he was killed
by someone inside the administration. He had been
selling off massive amounts of federal liquor to cover
his debts from playing the market very badly.
Thanks for sending the info, Ram.
--- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:
> > I am somehow doubtful of the Federal Vampire and=== message truncated ===
> Zombie Agency's
> > accuracy, and I unfortunately couldn't find any
> other mentions of
> > Frank Prevost on Google.
> I thought they were just a conspiracy group who
> write parodies about
> the vampires and zombies. I should have mentioned
> that in the first
> place. Here is a more serious and scholarly account
> from the book
> written by Frederick Lewis Allen published in 1931:
> HARDING AND THE SCANDALS
> Having been personal attorney for Warren G. Harding
> before he was
> Senator from Ohio and while he was Senator, and
> thereafter until his
> --And for Mrs. Harding for a period of several
> years, and before her
> husband was elected President and after his death,
> --And having been attorney for the Midland National
> Bank of Washington
> Court House, O., and for my brother, M. S.
> --And having been Attorney-General of the United
> States during the
> time that President Harding served as President,
> --And also for a time after President Harding's
> death under President
> --And with all of those named, as attorney, personal
> friend, and
> Attorney-General, my relations were of the most
> confidential character
> as well as professional,
> --I refuse to testify and answer questions put to
> me, because:
> The answer I might give or make and the testimony I
> might give might
> tend to incriminate me.
> --Harry M. Daugherty's written reply when called
> upon by Judge
> Thacher for information for the Federal Grand Jury
> in New York, March
> 31, 1926. (Punctuation revised.)
> ON THE morning of March 4, 1921,a brilliant morning
> with a frosty air
> and a wind which whipped the flags of
> WashingtonWoodrow Wilson,
> broken and bent and ill, limped from the White House
> door to a waiting
> automobile, rode down Pennsylvania Avenue to the
> Capitol with the
> stalwart President-elect at his side, and returned
> to the bitter
> seclusion of his private house in S Street. Warren
> Gamaliel Harding
> was sworn in as President of the United States. The
> reign of normalcy
> had begun.
> March 4, 1921: what do those cold figures mean to
> you? Let us for turn
> back for a moment to that day and look about us.
> The war had been over for more than two years,
> although, as the Treaty
> of Versailles had been thrown out by the Senate and
> Woodrow Wilson had
> refused to compromise with the gentlemen at the
> other end of the
> Avenue, a technical state of war still existed
> between Germany and the
> United States. Business, having boomed until the
> middle of 1920, was
> collapsing into the depths of depression and
> dragging down with it the
> price-level which had caused so much uproar about
> the High Cost of
> Living. The Big Red Scare was gradually ebbing,
> although the
> super-patriots still raged and Sacco and Vanzetti
> had not yet come to
> trial before Judge Thayer. The Ku-Klux Klan was
> acquiring its first
> few hundred thousand members. The Eighteenth
> Amendment was entering
> upon its second year, and rum-runners and
> bootleggers were beginning
> to acquire confidence. The sins of the flappers were
> disturbing the
> nation; it was at about this time that Philadelphia
> produced the
> "moral gown" and the Literary Digest featured a
> symposium entitled,
> "Is the Younger Generation in Peril?" The first
> radio broadcasting
> station in the country was hardly four months old
> and the radio craze
> was not yet. Skirts had climbed halfway to the knee
> and seemed likely
> to go down again, a crime commission had just been
> Chicago's crime wave, Judge Landis had become the
> czar of baseball,
> Dempsey and Carpentier had signed to meet the
> following summer at
> Boyle's Thirty Acres, and Main Street and The
> Outline of History were
> becoming best sellers.
> The nation was spiritually tired. Wearied by the
> excitements of the
> war and the nervous tension of the Big Red Scare,
> they hoped for quiet
> and healing. Sick of Wilson and his talk of
> America's duty to
> humanity, callous to political idealism, they hoped
> for a chance to
> pursue their private affairs without governmental
> interference and to
> forget about public affairs. There might be no such
> word in the
> dictionary as normalcy, but normalcy was what they
> Every new administration at Washington begins in a
> atmosphere of
> expectant good will, but in this case the airs which
> lapped the
> capital were particularly bland. The smile of the
> new President was as
> warming as a spring thaw after a winter of
> discontent. For four long
> years the gates of the White House had been locked
> and guarded with
> sentries. Harding's first official act was to throw
> them open, to
> permit a horde of sight-seers to roam the grounds
> and flatten their
> noses against the executive window-panes and
> photograph one another
> under the great north portico; to permit flivvers
> and trucks to detour
> from Pennsylvania Avenue up the driveway and chortle
> right past the
> presidential front door. The act seemed to symbolize
> the return of the
> government to the people. Wilson had been denounced
> as an autocrat,
> had proudly kept his own counsel; Harding modestly
> said he would rely
> on the "best minds" to advise him, and took his oath
> of office upon
> the verse from Micah which asks, "What doth the Lord
> require of thee
> but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
> humbly with thy God?"
> Wilson had seemed to be everlastingly prying into
> the affairs of
> business and had distrusted most business men;
> Harding meant to give
> them as free a hand as possible "to resume their
> normal onward way."
> And finally, whereas Wilson had been an austere
> academic theorist,
> Harding was "just folks": he radiated an unaffected
> good nature, met
> reporters and White House visitors with a warm
> handclasp and a genial
> word, and touched the sentimental heart of America
> by establishing in
> the White House a dog named Laddie Boy. "The
> Washington atmosphere of
> today is like that of Old Home Week or a college
> class reunion," wrote
> Edward G. Lowry shortly after Harding took office.
> "The change is
> amazing. The populace is on a broad grin." An era of
> good will seemed
> to be beginning.
> Warren Harding had two great assets, and these were
> already apparent.
> First, he looked as a President of the United States
> should. He was
> superbly handsome. His face and carriage had a
> Washingtonian nobility
> and dignity, his eyes were benign; he photographed
> well and the
> pictures of him in the rotogravure sections won him
> affection and
> respect. And he was the friendliest man who ever had
> entered the White