Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Albert B. Fall (1921–1923): Secretary of the Interior

Albert Bacon Fall was born November 26, 1861, in Frankfort, Kentucky. He moved to the New Mexico territory, where he studied law at night and was admitted to the bar in 1891. Fall fought in the Spanish-American War as a captain.

From 1891 to 1912, Fall served as a representative of the New Mexico Territory, judge of the Third Judicial District (1893), and associate justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court (1893). He later became territorial attorney general (1897, 1907). When New Mexico achieved statehood in 1912, Fall was one of its first two Senators sent to Congress. He remained in the Senate until March 4, 1921, when President Warren G. Harding appointed him secretary of the interior.

Fall became involved in the Teapot Dome scandal after leasing vast quantities of oil reserves to friends at noncompetitive prices. He resigned his appointment in 1923 and was later convicted of crimes for the scandal and served a sentence in jail for these crimes -- the first cabinet officer in the history of the United States to meet this fate. Fall returned to Three Rivers, New Mexico, and died on November 30, 1944.