Consumption of corn — the whiskey distillers.
It is understood that the War Department will shortly issue an order directing the seizure of the corn now held for purposes of distillation, a step rendered necessary, not only by the pernicious effects of the unlimited manufacture of whiskey, but by the exorbitant prices which Government is thereby compelled to pay for an article in dispensable to the sustenance of the army.
This movement, following close upon the order for the impressment of saltpetre, will probably cause monopolists and extortioners to open their eyes, and may result in a purification of the moral atmosphere, so devoutly prayed for by every honest member of the community.
If we are correctly informed in regard to the intentions of the Department, there may be no necessity for the passage of the bill introduced in the State Senate yesterday by Mr. Thomas
, of Henry
, which makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by fine, for any person to manufacture or cause to be manufactured, any whiskey or other spirituous or malt liquors out of any corn, wheat, rye, or other grain, except that grown by himself or those in his employment.
But to illustrate the need of some prompt action to check the growth of the evil, we may state that in one county in Western Virginia
nine distilleries have been put in operation since the commencement of the war. This is by no means an isolated instance; for among the numerous letters lately received by members of the Legislature invoking some action upon the subject, are several giving statements of a similar nature.
An intelligent citizen of the Valley
thus sketches some of the prominent evils to be appprehended from the vast consumption of grain for distillation:
"In ordinary times I am opposed to all interference with trade; but in times like these, ordinary rules do not apply.
If the Legislature does not do something speedily to arrest the distillation of grain, we shall have nothing to feed our soldiers or horses with by next harvest.
The distillation of grain benefits one in a thousand of the commodity very greedy; it benefits those who have surplus grain to dispose of, to a certain extent — so much so that I do not know a single patriot in all this country who is saving his grain to feed the army, but is ignominiously staging the last bushel to the distillers.
The enhanced price of grain operates very hard upon the poorer class of the community.
It increases the expenses of the Quartermasters' and Commissary
's departments of the Government
, and it turns the grain intended for the support of our army into a curse instead of a ing."