Wartime Whisky Prices

There’s a story, of unknown veracity, that in 1863 President Lincoln asked what whiskey General Ulysses S. Grant drank. Nobody knew the brand, so Lincoln purportedly replied, “Because, if I can only find out, I will send a barrel of this wonderful whiskey to every general in the army.” The timing was particularly poor — that same year, whiskey prices were soaring.

The chart below, courtesy of the David Rumsey Collection, appeared in Henry Gannett’s 1883 Statistical Atlas of the United States, using the American Almanac and Treasury of Facts as its source. You can see prices jumping from roughly 19 cents a gallon to $1.92 a gallon in just 3 years (and soaring even higher after that)…

A jump so big, it soars off the chart. No wonder those New York City Irish were ornery to the point of rioting in 1863! Also interesting to learn that the Confederacy tried – and failed, as in so many other attempted social legislation – to enact prohibition.

via The horrific spike in whiskey prices during the Civil War, in one chart – Vox.

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