John Keeler Robison Manuscript, 1939: Finding Aid
Published in October 2019
- Publisher: United States Naval Academy. Special Collections & Archives.
- Publisher Address:
589 McNair Road
Annapolis, Maryland 21402-5029, USA
- Call number: MS 537
- Location: Special Collections & Archives Department - Manuscripts
- Title: John Keeler Robison Manuscript
- Dates: 1939
- Size: 0.06 linear feet
- Container Summary: 1 folder containing 1 volume
- Creator: unknown
- Language(s) of material: English
- Abstract: John Keeler Robison was an officer in the United States Navy and a member of the United States Naval Academy Class of 1891. The John Keeler Robison Manuscript was written in or around 1939. The manuscript serves as a defense of Robison in his role in the leasing of Navy oil reserves, referred to as the Teapot Dome Scandal, while Robison was serving as Engineer-in-Chief of the United States Navy.
Biographical Chronology of John Keeler Robison
- Born on November 30 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- On May 20, enters the United States Naval Academy as a member of the Class of 1891.
- On June 3, graduates from the United States Naval Academy.
- On June 10, attached to U.S.S. Chicago.
- On July 1, promoted to Assistant Engineer with the rank of Ensign.
- In October, is assigned to study Marine Engineering in Paris, France.
- In January, attached to the Bureau of Steam Engineering.
- In February, attached to U.S.S. Olympia (Protected cruiser: C-6), followed by duty aboard U.S.S. Monterey (Monitor: BM-6).
- On May 9, promoted to Passed Assistant Engineer with the rank of Lieutenant (junior grade).
- In August, attached to the Bureau of Steam Engineering.
- On July 8, promoted to Lieutenant.
- In October, attached to U.S.S. Philadelphia (Protected cruiser: C-4), followed by duty aboard U.S.S. Ranger (Gunboat).
- In November, attached to U.S.S. Prairie (Auxiliary cruiser: AD-5), followed by duty aboard U.S.S. Newport (Gunboat: PG-12).
- In November, attached to the United States Naval Academy as an instructor in mathematics.
- On September 8, promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
- In November, attached to U.S.S. Indiana (Battleship: BB-1), followed by duty aboard U.S.S. Kentucky (Battleship: BB-6).
- In May, attached to the Bureau of Steam Engineering.
- On March 4, promoted to Commander.
- In July, assumes command of U.S.S. Dixie (Destroyer tender).
- In March, appointed Inspector of Ordnance in charge of the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island.
- On October 10, promoted to Captain.
- In April, assumes command of U.S.S. Huntington (Armored cruiser: ACR-5), followed by duty as Chief of Staff at the Naval Base in Cardiff, Wales.
- In December, assumes command of U.S.S. Florida (Battleship: BB-30).
- On September 30, commissioned Engineer-in-Chief and Chief of the Bureau of Engineering with the temporary rank of Rear Admiral.
- In December, appointed Captain of the New York Navy Yard.
- On June 3, retires from the United States Navy with the rank of Captain, and subsequently serves as a consulting engineer in New York City.
- Serves as President of the Naval Academy Alumni Association.
- On July 15, dies in New York City.
Description of Contents
The John Keeler Robison Manuscript, alternately titled "Rear Admiral John Keeler Robison, United States Navy, Engineer-in-Chief, Untied States Navy, Chief, Bureau of Engineering, 1921-1925," and "John Keeler Robison, Rear Admiral U.S.N., History of a Wrong: A Tribute," comprising 0.06 linear feet of documentation in a single volume, was written in or around 1939. The manuscript serves as a defense of Robison in his role in the leasing of Navy oil reserves, referred to as the Teapot Dome Scandal, while Robison was serving as Engineer-in-Chief of the United States Navy.
The author of the manuscript, a childhood friend of Robison's from Detroit, is referred to only as Jim. Following an introduction in which he claims Robison's innocence in the Teapot Dome Scandal, the author discusses Robison's appointment as Engineer-in-Chief in 1921, the process of and difficulty of achieving promotion to flag rank in the United States Navy. The manuscript then turns to its main focus of the Teapot Dome Scandal and Robison's role in it, including: the history of the Navy's oil reserve fields and Robison's role in administering them; the need to establish oil sufficient oil supplies at Pearl Harbor to counter Japan; the Navy's lack of experience in and Congressional appropriations for operating their own oil wells; Robison's role in finding oil companies to operate the Navy's oil fields; investigations by Senator Thomas J. Walsh, including the author's claims of partisan motivation; the role of Washington Post owner Edward "Ned" McLean; involvement of Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty and special investigator Gaston B. Means; investigation and prosecutions by Special Prosecutor Owen J. Roberts; the indictment of oil executives Edward L. Doheny and Harry F. Sinclair, as well as Secretary of State Albert Fall; pressure from Secretary of the Navy Curtis Wilbur for Robison to censor his testimony in a civil suit in California; Robison's continued defense of the oil field leases; President Coolidge's removal of Robison's name from the flag rank promotion list; Owen J. Roberts' alleged role in denying Robison his permanent promotion to Rear Admiral; the acquittal of Edward L. Doheny and Harry F. Sinclair on bribery charges; and Robison's attempts to clear his name via a court martial and ultimate retirement with the permanent rank of Captain.
The John Keeler Robison Manuscript comprises a single volume.
Access and Use
Access is unrestricted.
Copyright and Permission
The John Keeler Robison Manuscript is the physical property of Nimitz Library. Copyright belongs to the authors or creators of the works, or their legal representatives. For further information, consult the Head, Special Collections & Archives.
It is the responsibility of the researcher to secure written permission to publish, reprint, or reproduce material from Special Collections & Archives. The researcher assumes responsibility for infringement of copyright or literary or publication rights. Please contact the Head, Special Collections & Archives for permission to publish and for further information.
Acquisition and Appraisal
Provenance and Acquisition
Gift of Eleanor B. Purcell in May 1997. Accession No. 97-31.
Related Archival Material
Additional material in this repository pertaining to Robison can be found in his Midshipman Conduct Record and Alumni Jacket.
Other materials pertaining to Robison's career can be found in the John Keeler Robison papers, 1884-1889 at the Detroit Public Library.
Materials Cataloged Separately
No materials have been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
Processing and Other Information
John Keeler Robison Manuscript, MS 537
Special Collections & Archives Department
United States Naval Academy
The following sources were consulted during preparation of the biographical note:
United States. Bureau of Naval Personnel. Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1891-1927.
"Capt. J. K. Robison Dead Here at 68." New York Times (July 16, 1938).
This collection was processed by David D'Onofrio in October 2019. Finding aid written by David D'Onofrio in October 2019.
Name and Subject Terms
- Robison, John Keeler, 1870-1938
- Teapot Dome Scandal, 1921-1924
- United States. Navy -- Officers -- Biography