A cheat scheme involving whiskey distillers, agents the the interior Revenue Service, Treasury clerks and others marred Grant"s presidency.

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Not only does the U.S. President have actually the government to appoint a special prosecutor—he likewise has the government to fire one. Chairman Ulysses S. Grant exercised both of this powers in 1875, during the Whiskey Ring Scandal. Before the scandal to be over, Grant additionally did other no sit president had actually done before, or has actually done since: that voluntarily testified together a defense angry in a criminal trial.

But let’s back up a bit.

By the early 1870s, Grant’s first term in the White home had already been tarnished through scandal. Initiatives by a group of speculators (led by grant associates James Fisk and Jay Gould) to illegally manipulate the gold industry led to a financial scare in September 1869, well-known as black color Friday. Disillusioned with the war-hero president, a group of for free Republicans damaged away in Missouri, threaten Grant’s possibilities for reelection.

As Timothy Rives composed in Prologue, the magazine of the national Archives and also Records management (NARA), provide sent one of his trusted allies, basic John McDonald come Missouri to shore up Republican assistance for the president. As supervisor that the U.S. Treasury Department’s interior revenue for the St. Louis area, McDonald soon became the center of the so-called Whiskey Ring, which began as an initiative to raise money because that Grant and other Republican candidates.

Operating mostly in St. Louis, Chicago and Milwaukee, the ring eventually associated whiskey distillers, agents that the internal Revenue Service, Treasury clerks and others, all of whom conspired to siphon off liquor tax revenues into campaign coffers and individual pockets. Through 1873, follow to Rives, the ring to be no much longer a political slush fund but “a purely criminal enterprise, defrauding the commonwealth treasury that an estimated million and also a fifty percent dollars a year.”


Things began to clearly in June 1874, when give appointed Benjamin H. Bristow to change William Richardson (who had actually resigned as result of a various scandal) together treasury secretary. As soon as Bristow learned that the Whiskey Ring’s existence, that made breaking the system up his personal mission. With the aid of undercover investigators and also informants in miscellaneous cities across the country, Bristow covertly assembled a case against the Whiskey Ring, prior to arresting more than 300 suspected ring members in may 1875.

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The following month, give appointed man B. Henderson together a unique prosecutor in the investigation, hope to head turn off criticism about any problem of interest. Henderson, a former U.S. Senator indigenous Missouri, worked along with U.S. Attorneys to begin handing under indictments in the St. Luigi ring, including general McDonald.