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HOLLIS 9391230

Sinclair, Harry Ford. Trial Transcripts, 1926-1928. Finding Aid

Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard Law School

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Harvard Depository
Call No.: HOLLIS 9391230
Repository: Harvard Law School Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: Sinclair, Harry Ford
Title: Harry Ford Sinclair trial transcripts
Date(s): 1926-1928
Quantity: 1 collection (7 Paige boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Sinclair Trial Transcripts record several of Harry Sinclair's trials relating to the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921-1928. Sinclair was tried before the District of Columbia's Supreme Court for contempt of the U.S. Senate, contempt of court, and for conspiracy to defraud the government.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Gift of George L. Hart (shorthand reporter) to the Harvard Law School Library, 1927, care of Eldon Revare James.

Processing Information:

Processed by Jennifer Carter, Margaret Peachy, and Sally Vermaaten, May 2004.

Conditions Governing Access:

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use:

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.

Historical/Biographical Information

Harry Ford Sinclair (b. July 6, 1876, Wheeling, W.Va.; d. Nov. 10, 1956, Pasadena, Cal.) established the Sinclair Oil and Refining Corporation and the Sinclair Gulf Corporation (later the Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation) in 1916.
In 1921 Albert Fall, Secretary of the Interior under President Warren Harding, secretly leased the Teapot Dome oil fields in Wyoming to the Mammoth Oil Company, another Sinclair operation. Those oil reserves had been set-aside for the Navy but control had been transferred earlier to the Department of the Interior by President Harding's executive order.
The Wall Street Journal broke the story of Fall's illegal deal on April 14, 1922. President Harding publicly defended the deal, but a Senate investigation, led by Senator Thomas J. Walsh (D-MT), began on October 15, 1923 in the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys.
On January 24, 1924, Edward Doheny-to whose Pan-American Petroleum and Transportation Company Fall had also leased oil fields at Elk Hills, California-admitted that he had lent Fall $100,000. A week later the Senate passed a resolution finding fraud and corruption. Fall had already retired from his post as Secretary of the Interior. He would later be charged with conspiracy and accepting bribes, convicted of the latter, sentenced to a year in prison and fined $100,000.
Sinclair was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, and his trial began October 17, 1927. After forty minutes of deliberation the jury acquitted Sinclair, but the judge declared a mistrial when the government presented evidence that Sinclair had hired a detective agency to shadow the jury.
Sinclair was tried and found guilty for criminal contempt of court and sentenced to six months in prison, which he served in Washington, D.C. in 1929. The Teapot Dome and Elk Hills oil reserves were restored to the U.S. government by the Supreme Court without deciding the issue of fraud. See Mammoth Oil Co. v. United States, 275 U.S. 13 (1927) and Pan American Petroleum & Transport. Co. v. United States, 273 U.S. 456 (1927).

Series List

Scope and Contents

This collection of trial transcripts chronicles the court cases in which Harry Ford Sinclair stood as a defendant during the Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920s. While a single scandal, the larger case charging Sinclair and Secretary of the Interior, Albert B. Fall, and others brought about many individual trials and hearings.
All transcripts in this collection come from Sinclair's cases heard before the Supreme Court of the District of the Columbia. Beginning in December, 1926 and ending in April, 1928, the transcriptions completely cover four trials all related to the Teapot Dome Oil Reserve leasing scandal:
The transcripts, made by shorthand reporters Hart, Dice & Carlton, are mostly bound in a chronological order.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Contempt of court--United States
Contempt of legislative bodies--United States
Petroleum--United States
Political corruption--United States--History--20th century
Public lands--United States
Teapot Dome Scandal, 1921-1924
Fall, Albert B. (Albert Bacon) 1861-1944
Hoover, George P.
Littleton, Martin W. (Martin Wilson) 1897-
Pomerene, Atlee, 1863-1937
Sinclair Oil Corporation