- The two biggest scandals during Grant’s presidency which brutally marred his reputation were Black Friday and Whiskey Ring.
- In the Black Friday incident, investors forged the Gold Ring to manipulate the gold market and augment its price on the New York Gold Exchange.
- In Whiskey Ring, tax records were misreported for extra gains.
- Owing to these scandals, president Grant had disgruntled quite a few leading Republicans by 1872.
“A man who has never gone to school may steal a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad”– Theodore Roosevelt
Due to many scandals, President Ulysses S. Grant became a deeply detestable figure in the USA. The two biggest scandals during Grant’s presidency which brutally marred his reputation were Black Friday and Whiskey Ring.
The Black Friday
The Black Friday transpired in 1869 as a result of a conspiracy designed by some investors, namely Jay Gould and his partner James Fisk and Abel Corbin. Abel Corbin was a minor speculator married to Virginia Grant, the younger sister of president Grant. These investors forged the Gold Ring to manipulate the gold market and augment its price on the New York Gold Exchange. As the country had not yet fully recuperated from the paroxysm of the Civil War, President Grant came up with the policy of selling the USA Treasury gold at weekly intervals to foot the national debt, stabilize the dollar, and boost the economy. But the machination executed by the Gold Ring caused a financial crisis and colossal damage to Grant’s rapport.
The Whiskey Ring
Besides Black Friday, the Whiskey Ring too played its role in damaging Grant’s reputation. Being a regional superintendent for the Bureau of Revenue, John McDonald was sent to St. Louis to collect liquor taxes from distillers and distributors in 1871. The required tax was 70 cents per gallon. However, McDonald realized he could make extra money by reporting fewer alcohol sales. For example, if 100 gallons of liquor were sold, but he only reported 75 gallons, he could keep the tax on the other 25 gallons—and thus began the Whiskey Ring scandal. Due to the easy money that could be made through such scandalous acts, many government officials and people associated with the liquor industry became part of the Whiskey Ring. With St. Louis as the centre, Whiskey Ring expanded to New Orleans. According to estimates, around two-thirds of the liquor made in St. Louis remained untaxed during the four years of the Ring.
No Direct Involvement of Mr. Grant
Here, it is essential to note that Grant had no direct involvement with this evil scheme. Nevertheless, his association with people of ignominious character and reliance on favouritism, cronyism, and political patronage gave rise to accusations of “Grantism”.
Owing to these scandals, president Grant had disgruntled quite a few leading Republicans by 1872. The naysayers included the founders of the party, who expressed disappointment and disheartenment over the party’s bow to corruption. They were further disaffected by the constant acts of violence of whites against blacks in the South, which validated that the war was not over.
In summary, President Grant’s administration was replete with irregularities that turned out to be ridiculously disparaging for Grant’s rapport among the public in general and his party members in particular.
“Corrupt politicians make the other ten percent look bad” – Henry Kissinger