Scandals can be dangerous to the professional as well as the personal health of those who are involved in it. Though there have been many scandals that have shaken the foundation of the powerful American constituency time and again, some of them have brutally blemished the political image of a few U.S. Presidents and snatched away their chances of being recognized as the finest leaders.
All their good deeds went down the drain in a jiffy when these scandals surfaced.
Here are 11 of the most shocking U.S. Presidential scandals that you must know.
The first major scandal in the wake of the Civil War was the Credit Mobilier scandal that affected the reputation of many. It was discovered that the Credit Mobilier company was stealing from the Union Pacific Railroad and in order to cover it up, they started selling stocks in their company to Congress members – including the Vice President Schuyler Colfax - and government officials at a huge discount. This could not stay in the dark for a long time and ended up marring the reputation of many, including Ulysses S. Grant's VP.
Grover Cleveland was running for the President in the year 1884 when he had to deal with a scandal that bruised his image. As per reports, Cleveland was having an affair with a widow named Maria C. Halpin, which resulted in her pregnancy. Halpin bore a son and claimed that Cleveland was the father; she named him Oscar Folsom Cleveland.
Cleveland not only paid for child support but also made arrangements for him to be moved to an orphanage when Halpin fell sick and rendered unfit to raise the child. During the 1884 campaign, this issue was rife and chants of "Ma, Ma, Where's My Pa? Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha!" could be heard everywhere. However, Cleveland never shied away from this and went on to win the elections.
Though J.F. Kennedy proved to be a wonderful President, his extra-marital affairs could not be hidden from the public for a long time. After Bill Clinton's extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky came out of hiding, Kennedy's illicit relationships too surfaced. It is said that JFK has bedded quite a few women, including the popular starlet, Marilyn Monroe. Marilyn had become an embarrassment for the President and had threatened to go public about his infidelities. She soon died under mysterious circumstances and rumours have it that she was knocked out by the Kennedy brothers to save their political image.
A lot of men in Ronald Reagan's administration were implicated after they were found to have been selling arms to Iran, hoping to have the hostages set free. The money they got in exchange for the arms was being utilized to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. However, this went on to become a major scandal as it is illegal for America to be funding rebels, per the Boland Act.
The extremely infamous scandal in the list of U.S. Presidential scandals is the Monica Lewinsky affair of 1998. Bill Clinton had an illicit relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and tried to deny it in the beginning while giving a deposition in another case. This resulted in a vote to impeach him by the House of Representatives. Though he was not voted to be removed from office by the Senate, this sensational scandal did bruise his presidency.
Andrew Jackson supported his Secretary of War, John Henry Eaton, and his wedding to Margaret Timberlake post her husband's death. Timberlake's first husband had committed suicide and it is rumored that he killed himself after finding out about his wife's affair. The entire cabinet of Jackson resigned over his decision to support Eaton and this Petticoat affair affected a lot of political careers.
A major scandal that struck during Warren G. Harding's presidency was the Teapot Dome scandal. Albert Fall, who served as the Secretary of the Interior in Harding's presidency, was accused of selling the right to the oil reserves in Teapot Dome and Wyoming, besides a few other locations, for personal gain and cattle.
Fall's act could not stay under wraps for long and he – along with six other men from Harding's administration - were sentenced to jail after being convicted. It is not confirmed if Harding had a role to play in any of this but his reputation was certainly tarnished owing to the presence of such men in his administration, who were up to no good.
Another major scandal that rocked during Grant's presidency was the Whiskey Ring. It came to light that government employees were enjoying pocketing whiskey taxes, besides bribery, kickbacks and many other such activities. Though Grant took strict measures to punish the guilty, he aggravated the scandal by going on to protect his own personal secretary, Orville E. Babcock, who was a part of this affair.
Thomas Jefferson was said to be involved in a love relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. He had also brought her over to Paris for a continued relationship. What seemed to be a harmless affair became one of the most talked about scandals as Jefferson was against slavery but ironically, he never set her own slave free. It is presumed that Hemings gave birth to six of his children but lived with him as a slave.
Implicated of covering up the burglary that happened in the political offices of the Watergate building in 1972, Richard Nixon was forced to resign as the President or else he would have to face impeachment. Had he followed the usual route, he would have been named as one of the finest Presidents in the U.S. history but unfortunately, he made it to this list of the most shocking U.S. Presidential scandals.
Ulysses S. Grant has quite a few scandals associated with his administration but Black Friday was the most shocking of all. Jay Gould and James Fisk were having a merry time cornering the gold market by raising the price of gold. When it came to the knowledge of Grant, he ordered his Treasury to add more gold to the economy which drastically lowered the gold prices.
This happened on Friday, September 24, 1869, and resulted in huge losses to those who had bought gold at high prices.