When President Grant was asked why he appointed McDonald supervisor of internal revenue he responded, "I was aware that he was not an educated man, but he was a man that had seen a great deal of the world and of people, and I would not call him ignorant exactly, he was illiterate." McDonald organized and ran the Whiskey Ring
but he always credited Grant with the initiation of the Ring declaring that the president "actually stood god-father at its christening." The demise of the Ring rivals anything that the real or fictional Elliot Ness and his "Untouchables" ever accomplished during the prohibition era in America.
Ellis's approach is deeply historical, and his efforts to make sense of the contemporary presidency are informed by considerations of Barbary pirates, the 1864 Hodges letter, and the Whiskey Ring
, among other historical factors.
From Credit Mobilier to Black Friday, the Whiskey Ring
to the Belknap impeachment, President Grant experienced firsthand the deleterious impact special interest groups can have on government.
Bunting covers Grant's presidency, including the Salary Grab, Belknap Scandal, Whiskey Ring
, and other embarrassments that rocked the country.