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ALBERT BACON FALL (1861–1944)

Underwood & Underwood Studios1923

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum

U.S. Department of the Interior Museum

Albert Bacon Fall left his native Kentucky and settled in New Mexico, where he was a judge, publisher and mine owner. With New Mexico's statehood, Fall was elected to the U.S. Senate, and he became close friends with fellow senator, Warren Harding. When Harding won the presidency, he appointed Fall to his Cabinet as secretary of the Interior. The infamous Teapot Dome scandal brought Fall's political career to an abrupt halt, however. While Fall had a legitimate basis for leasing two oil reserves on behalf of the Department, he inappropriately accepted personal, no-interest loans in exchange. Public outrage at perceived cronyism and conflict of interest forced Fall's resignation. He was convicted on bribery charges and spent nearly a year in a New Mexico state prison—the first Cabinet member ever incarcerated for misconduct while in office.

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