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Benjamin Helm Bristow

Bristow, Benjamin Helm (brĭsˈtō) [key], 1832–96, American cabinet officer, b. Elkton, Ky. He was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1853. Bristow, a Union officer in the Civil War, was a state senator (1863–65), U.S. attorney for the Kentucky district (1866–70), and the first U.S. Solicitor General (1870–72). In June, 1874, President Grant appointed him Secretary of the Treasury. He thoroughly reorganized the department after the scandalous administration of William A. Richardson, and he strengthened his growing reputation by a courageous and successful prosecution of the powerful Whiskey Ring. However, he incurred Grant's hostility and was virtually forced to resign in June, 1876. There was a strong movement in the Republican party to run Bristow for President in 1876, but the nomination ultimately went to Rutherford B. Hayes. Moving to New York City in 1878, he spent the remainder of his life as a distinguished and successful lawyer.

See biography by R. A. Webb (1969).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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