Whiskey Ring

Whiskey Ring, in United States history, a group of officials and distillers who defrauded the national government of liquor taxes. Operations of the ring in the 1870's formed one of the scandals that rnarred the administrations of President Grant.

Whiskey makers in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and other cities conspired with revenue officials to evade millions of dollars in taxes. The unpaid tax money was divided among them. Some funds were used to finance Republican political campaigns, including that of President Grant. Bribes were distributed in Washington to protect the ring. Secretary of the Treasury Benjamin H. Briscoe began prosecutions in 1875. More than 200 persons were indicted, among them Grant's private secretary, Orville E. Babcock. Although most escaped conviction, the scandal led to the selection of a reform candidate, Rutherford B. Hayes, for the 1876 election.