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  • Ram Lau
    ... A quick correction here. :-) Technically the Harding administration lasted only about 2 years between his inauguration and his death in 1922. But Coolidge
    Message 1 of 14 , Jan 8, 2006
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      > The Harding administration was was incredibly
      > corrupt, but lasted only 4 years until Harding got a
      > 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 term.

      Ram
    • Ram Lau
      ... And, of course, I actually meant 1923 not 1922. Ram
      Message 2 of 14 , Jan 8, 2006
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        > 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.

        And, of course, I actually meant 1923 not 1922.

        Ram
      • THOMAS JOHNSON
        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
        Message 3 of 14 , Jan 8, 2006
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          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?

          Tom



          --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

          > > The Harding administration was was incredibly
          > > corrupt, but lasted only 4 years until Harding got
          > a
          > > 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
          > term.
          >
          > Ram
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
          > Yahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          > prezveepsenator-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Ram Lau
          http://www.fvza.org/harding.html Famous Cases: Who Killed Warren Harding? Report Number: 2381* *As the actual file is missing, this case has been pieced
          Message 4 of 14 , Jan 9, 2006
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            http://www.fvza.org/harding.html
            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
            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.
          • greg
            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
            Message 5 of 14 , Jan 9, 2006
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              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.

              http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks05/0500831h.html
              http://64.233.187.104/search?q=cache:HnO7jUcRQNkJ:www.georgetown.txed.net/faculty/ghs/FisherJ/AP%2520US/The%25201920.doc+%22Jess+Smith%22+Capone&hl=en
              http://www.referatele.com/referate/engleza/online7/Prohibition-referatele-com.php

              --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Ram Lau" <ramlau@y...> wrote:
              >
              > http://www.fvza.org/harding.html
              > 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
              > 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.
              >
            • Ram Lau
              ... 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
              Message 6 of 14 , Jan 9, 2006
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                > 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.

                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:

                http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/ALLEN/ch6.html
                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
                death.
                --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
                Coolidge,
                --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 Washington—Woodrow 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 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
                then—God!—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 Claus—beginning 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 Company—of 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
                known—if he was capable of a minute's clear and unprejudiced
                thought—how 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 now——if 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.
                [2]


                The public at large, however, knew little and cared less about what
                was happening behind the scenes. Their eyes—when they bothered to look
                at all—were 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, 1921—the day following the solemn burial of America's
                Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery-the delegates assembled in
                Washington.

                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 greeting—and 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
                international agreement.

                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 suddenly—on August 2,
                1923——of what his physicians took to be a stroke of apoplexy, the
                whole nation was plunged into deep—and 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 problems—at least for a President of
                the United States—that 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.
                [3]


                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 navy—as 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 oil—or of fuel
                oil—for 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 1921—on the eve of the
                Conference for the Limitation of Armaments—certain 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
                Doheny—without 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 Fall—was
                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, 1921—a few months before the Fall-Sinclair
                contract was made—a 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 incorporated—the 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 barrel——thereby
                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
                follows:

                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."
                [4]


                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 1923—not long after Harding's lamented death—Senator
                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 wanted—and 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.
                Whereupon—on January 24, 1924—the 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 it——or 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. Doheny—and she had
                mislaid it. The explanation was perfect—though 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 Europe—not 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 Stewart—and Others

                The Senate committee was hot on the trail—or 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
                said.

                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
                amount—after the ingenious Hays plan—by 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:
                $50,000
                Andy Weeks
                DuPont
                Butler

                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
                like Andy.

                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 explained—at just about the time when the
                Teapot Dome investigation was getting under way—Hays 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
                lease matter."

                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 end—as of this writing, at least—the 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
                instructive.

                Oh yes—there 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 them—including, in all probability,
                some drawn from within the Reserves—was sold to the Japanese Government!
                [5]


                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
                briefly.

                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
                instance—enough, it was said, to last a hundred years—and 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 hidden—many thousand dollars at a time—in 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 suicide—at least that was the official verdict—in
                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 justice—had 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 followed—so Means plainly
                indicated, as many others had already suspected—was 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 died—most of them
                suddenly—within 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
                Government.
                [6]


                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)
              • THOMAS JOHNSON
                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
                Message 7 of 14 , Jan 10, 2006
                • 0 Attachment
                  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.

                  Tom



                  --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

                  > > 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.
                  >
                  > 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:
                  >
                  > http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/ALLEN/ch6.html
                  > 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
                  > death.
                  > --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
                  > Coolidge,
                  > --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
                  > Washington—Woodrow 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
                  > 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
                  >
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