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Whiskey Ring Scandal

Ulysses Grant

Whiskey Ring Scandal: Ulysses Grant was the 18th American President who served in office from March 4, 1869 to March 4, 1877. One of the important events during his presidency was the Whiskey Ring Scandal.

Definition and Summary of the Whiskey Ring Scandal
Summary and definition:
The Whiskey Ring Scandal in 1875 erupted soon after the beginning of Grant's second presidential term in office. It concerned a conspiracy of distillers to bribe government officials and to defraud the government of the excise taxes on liquor.

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
The Whiskey Ring Scandal was one of a series of scandals that rocked the Grant administration.
There was never the slightest doubt as to the personal honesty of Ulysses S. Grant but there were grave doubts as to some of his decisions whilst in office and his judgment in making various appointments, refer to Grantism. The Whiskey Ring Scandal occurred in the post Civil War period at the end of the Reconstruction Era, a time which was marked by widespread political corruption and an extension of the infamous Spoils System. The Whiskey Ring scandal defrauded the government of large sums of money with the help of the government officials. President Grant wished to have a thorough investigation, and said, "Let no guilty man escape."

Whiskey Ring Scandal Facts for kids
Interesting Whiskey Ring Scandal facts for kids are detailed below. The history of Whiskey Ring Scandal is told in a factual sequence consisting of a series of short facts providing a simple method of relating the history and events of the Whiskey Ring Scandal.

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

US American History
1866-1881: Reconstruction Era

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