During the decade of the 1920's, the Sinclair
organization became involved in the Teapot Dome controversy. A contract to develop naval oil reserve lands in Wyoming was awarded in 1922 to Mammoth Oil Company
, a structure organized by Mr. Sinclair to operate in Teapot Dome. Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation
, as the holding company was known then, traded 250,000 of its common shares for a 25 percent interest in Mammoth, with an option on sufficient additional stock to assure ultimate control. In 1924, Sinclair Pipeline Company (50 percent owned by Sinclair Consolidated Oil Corporation) extended its system 700 miles to Wyoming, at a cost of about $21 million. Under Mammoth's obligation to the government, oil terminal facilities were constructed at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Navy Yard costing $1,340,000.
Alleging fraud in the award of the Teapot Dome contract, the government sued in 1924 to cancel the arrangement with Mammoth. The trial court held the lease legal and dismissed the complaint; but in 1927 the U.S. Supreme Court, on appeal, voided the contract on technical grounds, though finding "no direct evidence of fraud." A jury which deliberated only forty minutes acquitted Mr. Sinclair of a criminal charge of conspiracy to defraud. The use by Mr. Sinclair of private detectives to keep the jury under observation during the trial drew a sentence for contempt of court. During the long controversy, Mr. Sinclair gave 175,000 words of testimony before twelve legislative committees, disdaining the fifth amendment; but for refusing to answer one question which his counsel considered not to be pertinent to the legislative inquiry, Mr. Sinclair was held to be in contempt of the Senate. On the contempt citations, he spent six and one half months in the Washington, D.C. House of Detention in 1929.
Both Mr. Sinclair and Mammoth Oil Company lost heavily in the Teapot Dome venture, the naval reserves being unprofitable. In 1928, Mr. Sinclair voluntarily returned to Sinclair Consolidated the 250,000 shares it had invested in Mammoth, plus $400,000 paid in dividends. During the entire seven years of the Teapot Dome-Mammoth Oil Company dispute, Mr. Sinclair continued as chairman and chief executive officer of Sinclair Consolidated, with the unanimous support of his directors, who tendered him a public vote of confidence as he left New York to serve his sentence. Certificate:
Common Stock, issued in the 1930’sPrinter: American Bank Note Company Dimensions:
7 1/2” (h) x 11 1/2” (w) State: NY-New York Subject Matter: Oil Companies
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Vertical fold lines, punch hole cancels in signature areas and body, some toning from age.