From the famous whiskey ring of 1874  to the pool of 1881 and the
trust of 1887, and from the abandonment of the "trust" dress  and
the  reorganization  into  one  corporation  in  1890 down to the
present [1894], the private regulation  of the liquor traffic has
gone on.  It is a regulation of a good deal more than the  liquor
traffic.   More  than  one  chapter  of  our history exhibits the
government  itself   holding   to   these   rectifiers  relations
suggestive of anything but rectification.

By February, 1888, all the important distilleries in the Northern
States were in the Trust, excepting two, the larger of which  was
in  Chicago.   In April the Chicago distillery firm published the
fact that they had caught a spy  of the Trust in their works.  He
had given them a confession in  writing.   In  September  it  was
discovered  that  the  valve of a vat in this distillery had been
tampered with in such a way as to have caused an explosion had it
not been found out in time.  In December the country was startled
by the news that this distillery  had  been the scene of an awful
explosion of dynamite.  All the  buildings  in  the  neighborhood
were  shaken  and many panes of glass were broken.  A jagged hole
about three feet  square  was  torn  in  the  roof.  A package of
dynamite which had failed to explode, though the  fuse  had  been
lighted, was found on the premises by the Chicago police.

The  Chicago  representative of the whiskey combination ridiculed
the idea that the Trust had had anything to do with this.

On February  11,  1891,  the  explosion  of  December,  1888, was
recalled by  the  unexpected  arrest  of  the  secretary  of  the
combination  in  Chicago  by  the United States authorities.  The
Grand  Jury  of  Cook  County  [Illinois]  found  an  indictment,
February 17th, against the prisoner.   April 20th he was indicted
by the Federal Grand Jury.  The crime of which he was charged was
attempting  to  bribe  a  government  gauger  to  blow   up   the
troublesome distillery.  The gauger whom the secretary endeavored
to  enlist had been loyal to *his* trust, the government, and had
made known to his superiors the offer and purpose of the bribe.

The gauger through whom the  secretary of the Trust had attempted
to execute his plans was called as a witness before the Committee
of Congress which investigated the Trust in 1893. His testimony:

  Late  in  December,  1890,  I  received  a  letter from the
  secretary of the whiskey  combination at Peoria [Illinois],
  telling me that he would like to meet me.  I met  him.   He
  said,  "You  may  be able to do considerable good here; not
  only for us,  but  of  considerable  advantage to yourself.
  You can get $10,000 by assisting us in this thing; in fact,
  to make matters  right,  you  could  get  in  three  months

He met the secretary again on January 25th, 1891.

  "Now," said the secretary, "I can give you something which,
  if put under a cistern, will in three or four hours go off,
  and no person know what it was or who did it."

The gauger surrendered the infernal machine [special bomb] to one
of his superiors in the  government.   A chemist who inspected it
said that it was his opinion it would have gone  off  in  *three*

If  the  explosion  had  been  carried out 150 men at work in the
distillery  would  have  been   destroyed.   The  evidence  given
Congress afterwards tended to show that part of the plan was that
the bribed gauger who was to set and explode the infernal machine
was not to be allowed to survive to claim his reward and  perhaps
repent  and tell.  The fuse was fixed so that the explosion would
be instantaneous instead of giving  the  time promised him to get
out of the way.

On June 8th, 1891, the  judge  of  the  United  States  Court  in
Chicago  quashed the Federal indictment, on the ground that it is
not a crime under any of  the  United States laws for an internal
revenue officer to set fire to a distillery of his  own  volition
and impulse, and that it is not a crime against the United States
for  another person to bribe him to do such an act.  He held that
the offender could  only  be  punished  through the State courts.
The United States had property in the distillery to the extent of
$800,000 due for taxes, which was a legal lien on  the  property;
but  the United States District Attorney and the judge could find
no Federal  law  under  which,  for  the  gauger  to destroy this
property of the United States, or for the Whiskey Trust to  bribe
him to do so, it was a crime.  When the indictments framed by the
State's  Attorney  of Chicago came before the State courts, three
of the four were found  defective  and were quashed.  The State's
Attorney had said, at  the  time  the  Federal  proceedings  were
quashed,  that  of  his four indictments he relied most upon that
for conspiracy; "but in  court  yesterday," reported the New York
World newspaper, "the State Attorney let the charge of conspiracy
fall to the ground because, as he said, there  was  not  evidence
enough to secure a conviction."

"We  haven't  the  evidence  of the gauger; I don't know where he
is," the State's Attorney said.

But the gauger declared  in  a  public  letter in February, 1893,
"Myself and others with positive evidence were  always  ready  to
testify, and I have the facts today."

The judge of the State court held the motion to quash until July,
1891,  and  then  announced  that he would make no decision until
August.  He withheld his ruling  until October.  Then he held the
secretary for trial on two counts, charging conspiracy  to  bribe
the  gauger  and destroy the independent distillery; but remarked
"informally,"  the  newspapers  said,  that  conviction  would be

When the case was called March 22,  1892,  a  delay  was  granted
"until next Monday," to enable the prisoner's counsel to read the
"bill  of particulars" to find out what he was charged with.  The
secretary did not trouble himself  to attend court.  His case was
not heard of again until June 24th, when he  was  released  on  a
*nolle  prosequi*  entered  by  the  State's Attorney because the
evidence was "insufficient," and the secretary became a free man.
That was the end.

[Synopsis of  *Wealth  against  Commonwealth*  by  Henry Demarest
Lloyd. (1894)]

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