The Whiskey Ring conspiracy was public knowledge but it was considered impenetrable because of the strong political connections of the men involved. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Bristow resolved to break the conspiracy and in May, 1875 he succeeded in his goal and charges were brought against the conspirators.
Whiskey Ring Scandal History for kids: President Grant and the Scandals of his Administration
Whiskey Ring Scandal Facts for kids
Whiskey makers in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago and other cities conspired with revenue officials to evade millions of dollars in liquor taxes.
The conspiracy was centered in St. Louis where it was headed by John McDonald, the Treasury Departmentís supervisor of internal revenue for the St. Louis area
John McDonald was a friend of President Grant and an old army buddy
The conspirators bribed Internal Revenue officials and politicians in Washington in order to keep liquor taxes for themselves
Bribes were distributed in Washington to protect the conspirators
Some of these illegal funds were also used to finance Republican political campaigns, including that of President Ulysses S. Grant, although the President was not involved with the conspiracy
Bribery and corruption was rampant in US politics during this time due to the widespread adoption of the Spoils System
The Spoils System reached astounding proportions in the administration of President Grant
The bribery and corruption of the conspiracy was public knowledge but the conspirators were considered unassailable because of the strong political connections of the men involved.
Benjamin H. Bristow, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, was determined to break the conspiracy and mounted a secret operation to bring the conspirators to justice
President Grant backed Benjamin H. Bristow's investigation, and said, "Let no guilty man escape."
The investigation into the fraud was kept secret so that evidence could be collected without alerting the people suspected of being involved
In May 1875 Benjamin H. Bristow ordered the investigators to act. Suspects were arrested and distilleries were seized
The secret investigation resulted in 238 indictments and 110 convictions
Orville E. Babcock, President Grant's private secretary, was indicted in the conspiracy but was acquitted after the president testified to his innocence.
Allegations and rumors spread that the illegally held liquor tax money was to be used in the Republican Partyís campaign for the re-election of President Grant
President Grant was not implicated in the scandal but his reputation was damaged.
Over 3 million dollars of liquor taxes were recovered
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