Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Edwin Denby (1923–1924): Secretary of the Navy

Born in Evansville, Indiana, on February 18, 1870, Edwin Edward Denby graduated with a degree in law from the University of Michigan in 1896. He was later admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Michigan. Denby also served in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War.

Denby was elected to the Michigan House of Representatives (1903-1904), and later to the U.S. House of Representatives from the First District of Michigan, which he served from 1905 to 1911. He was appointed secretary of the Navy in 1921 and later was persuaded by Interior Secretary Albert Fall to transfer oil leases controlled by the Navy to the Department of the Interior. Fall later sold the leases to his friends, hastening public awareness of the Teapot Dome scandal.

Denby resigned his cabinet position in 1924, disgraced by the scandal, and returned to Michigan to practice law. He died there on February 8, 1929.