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Who killed Warren Harding?

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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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