Benjamin H. Bristow (1832 - 1896) served as the first Solicitor General (1870 - 1872) and was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Grant in 1874. He promptly initiated a much needed internal reorganization of the
Department, dismissing the Second-Comptroller for inefficiency, shaking up the detective force, and consolidating collection districts in the Customs and Internal Revenue services.
Bristow argued vigorously but unsuccessfully for the resumption of specie payments: "The history of irredeemable paper currency repeats itself whenever and wherever it is used. It increases prices, deludes the laborer with the idea that he is getting higher wages, and brings fictitious prosperity ... until it is discovered that trade and commerce have become fatally diseased." Bristow's greatest accomplishment was the breaking up in 1874 of the Whiskey Ring, a powerful group of moonshiners who evaded the Internal Revenue tax on whiskey. Bristow's investigation implicated many local and Treasury officials, including some close to Grant. The Ring, fighting back, convinced Grant that Bristow was using his office to scheme for the Republican nomination. Fearing competition, Grant pressured Bristow to resign in 1876.