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Scandal

The Senate's inquiry into a Kennedy Administration defense contract is considered one of the longest and most extensive congressional investigations ever undertaken.

The Kennedy administration took office under a small political cloud. Allegations of fraud and vote-stealing filled the air in the days following John F. Read more >>

There was widespread misconduct in Harry Truman’s administration, but historians discount the president's responsibility. 

Harry S. Truman became president of a country much changed from the pre-war America of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Relative prosperity born of war had replaced depression, and government had turned its attention from combatting hardship to underwriting an immense military enterprise. Read more >>

Though no scandals touched Eisenhower personally, the media showed occasional interest in the number of gifts he received.

Because of the heavy barrage of criticism the Republicans had directed at the scandals in the Truman administration during the 1952 campaign, both the executive and legislative branches were particularly sensitive to the issue of corruption in government for the duration of Dwight D. Read more >>

After the Department of Justice brought suit to nullify the Bell telephone patents, it was discovered the action could have made Attorney General Garland a multi-millionaire.

Elected mayor of Buffalo in 1881, governor of New York in 1882, and president of the United States in 1884, Grover Cleveland owed his rapid rise in politics to his reputation for honesty, retrenchment, and administrative reform. In 1884 he ran as the clean candidate against James G. Read more >>

To many voters—some Republicans as well as most Democrats—Hayes's title to the presidency was a fraudulent one.

Rutherford B. Hayes entered the White House under the cloud of the disputed election of 1876 and the ensuing electoral crisis, and the cloud did not dissipate during his four years in office. Read more >>

Ulysses S. Grant had to respond to more charges of misconduct that took the form of financial corruption than any other president.

In addition to cabinet m Read more >>

Did the James Buchanan know his Secretary of War, a future Confederate general, sent 110,000 muskets to armories in the South in 1860?

Many historians point to the presidency of James Buchanan as the nadir of antebellum public ethics. All of the trends of corruption at the lower ranks of the government seemed to culminate in three years, and the rate of exposure increased dramatically. Read more >>

Monroe was seen guilty of impropriety, not wrongdoing. But his reputation suffered.

President Monroe twice diverted public funds for private use (probably to cover expenses for his travel to try to reunite the country after the War of 1812.) Read more >>

Prior to Watergate, Harding's bribery ring was regarded as the greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics.

Ultimately, three of Harding's appointees, including a cabinet officer, went to jail. Two other officials committed suicide. Read more >>

Lincoln's first secretary of war amassed a fortune at the start of the Civil War, forcing a congressional investigation. 

There were instances of misconduct in Abraham Lincoln's administration, especially in the War Department and the army. Read more >>
Overrated For a hundred years the armor-plate scandal of the 1890s has been offered up as a definitive example of corporate greed. In fact it’s a better example of government incompetence. Read more >>

And how history shows it’s actually good for us

THERE’S AN OLD JOKE ABOUT A COMPANY’S NEEDING TO hire a new accounting firm. The chief executive invites the heads of eight firms to come in for interviews and he hires one right away. A friend asks him how he did it. “Simple,” the chief executive replies. Read more >>

It has been with us since Plymouth Colony. But that’s not why it’s an American institution.

On September evening in 1918, while unpacking an overseas bag for her husband, who had returned from a fact-finding tour of war-torn Europe with double pneumonia, Eleanor Roosevelt came upon a cache of love letters from her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Read more >>

You've always heard Harding was the worst President. Sex in the White House. Bribes on Capitol Hill. Was he really that bad?

The Beecher-Tilton Scandal

Among the entrants in the presidential election of 1872 was Victoria Woodhull, the most flamboyant, outspoken, and uncompromising feminist of her day. Read more >>

AN ANNIVERSARY LOOK BACK AT THE BIGGEST PRESIDENTIAL SCANDAL EVER, THROUGH THE CHANGES IT WROUGHT IN THE LANGUAGE

“I will repeat again today that no one presently employed at the White House had any involvement, awareness or association with the Watergate case.” Just twenty-five years ago this month, with national elections less than three weeks away, President Richard M. Read more >>

When the government manipulated and misused the robber barons

Economists from Adam Smith on have written about the evils and dislocations that monopolies bring to an economy. What has been much less written about over the years, however, are the evils of monopsony. Read more >>

A nineteenth-century blueprint for the savings-and-loan scandal

It was a banking system. The act that made it possible slipped through Congress with hardly any debate and little attention to economic reality. Many of its highestranking officials knew little or nothing about the peculiar nature of the banking business. Read more >>

An extraordinary new historical novel begins with the great political scandal of the 1970s, then visits the great political scandal of the 1820s

In a classic model of government corruption, the promoters placed shares of the company's stock “where it will do most good"—in the pockets of key Congressmen

 

Corruption must be fought in ways that preserve fairness and freedom. Otherwise the reformers can be as bad as the rascals.

One balmy summer morning this year the headlines sang a song of scandal. GINGRICH’S PAY TO AIDES IN 2 RACES RAISES QUESTION OF RULE BREAKING, said one. That’s the Republican whip of the House of Representatives they were talking about. Read more >>

Stempel’s winning technique was simplicity itself: He got all the questions in advance.

In October 1956 the twenty-nine-year-old scion of an illustrious American literary family took up a suggestion that countless Americans were then making to their more erudite friends and relations. Read more >>

An old, familiar show is back in Washington. There’s a new cast, of course, but the script is pretty much the same as ever. Here’s the program.

WHEN THE IRAN-CONTRA STORY BROKE LAST NOVEMBER, A NUMBER OF public figures as well as news commentators put the revelations in a historical context. Read more >>
Until July 2, 1986, I felt comfortably detached from the current insider-trading scandal on Wall Street. Read more >>

A Scottish émigré became the most powerful man in the French government, and sold hundreds of thousands of shares in land holdings in the Mississippi Valley

The curious table shown opposite, with its montage of hand-painted scenes, commemorates a grand financial debacle in eighteenth-century France that was commonly known as the Mississippi Bubble. Read more >>

Between its grim beginning on a Virginia plantation and its surprising end at a great New York estate, the career of Nancy Randolph involved many of the famous figures of the post-Revolutionary era. The lovers, the scorned ex-suitor, the cheated wife, all four were cousins in a great southern dynasty. This tale of hate and “honor” is recounted by a descendant of Edmund Randolph, the first Attorney General of the United States

The spinster thought she’d been proposed to; the young minister thought not. Their courtship and quarrel rocked devout New Haven

Foul was fair, and fair foul, when eight players of the championship White Sox conspired with gamblers to throw the 1919 World Series

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