100 years ago TODAY–Natrona County’s Teapot Dome Scandal
If you live in Casper for long enough you’ll probably hear about the Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s involving “ornery oil tycoons, poker-playing politicians, illegal liquor sales, a murder-suicide, a womanizing president and a bagful of bribery cash delivered on the sly” (History.com).
The Scandal revealed an unprecedented level of greed and corruption within the federal government while also spurring the Senate into investigating government corruption. Before the Watergate Scandal, the Teapot Dome Scandal was the biggest story of high-level corruption in U.S. politics.
It’s a long story–384 pages to be exact–and you can read all about it in Laton McCartney’s 2008 book “The Teapot Dome Scandal: How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country,” but in a nutshell, the scandal involves several bribes from the Secretary of the Interior by oil tycoons in cahoots to receive leases for drilling on federal lands without having to engage in open bidding.
“Early in the morning of August 2nd, 1922, soldiers from the United States Marine Corps arrived at the train station in Casper, Wyoming. They had been traveling for three days from the East Coast to reach…Teapot Dome. Their orders, which President Warren Hrding had approved only the week before, were to evict trespassers from a small oil claim in the northern end of the reserve. Following a quick breakfast, the soldiers proceeded noth by car under command of Capt. George K. Shuler. He had hand-picked the men, with whom he had fought in World War I,” according to an article in EARTH magazine (check out the pictures).
One thing led to another and seven years after the invasion, the Secretary of Interior became the first cabinet officer of the United States to be sentenced to prison.