A Reason Magazine article on the disputed definition of milk brought to mind the facts behind the Panic of 1907. (link)
The Pure Food Law passed in 1906, three years after the Silent Panic brought on by a Chinese boycott of American products. The boycott–three years after the Boxer Rebellion failed to exclude foreign morphine and needles from prohibitionist China–got the attention of U.S. industrialists and bankers and the mixed-economy politicians they owned and controlled. British baby syrup had Poison, Morphine written on the labels, and that made them comparatively honest and straightforward by Chinese standards. The Pure Food law only became enforceable in 1907, the Year of the Panic. This was the year of a Great Awakening in China, as Draconian measures were afoot in a War on Poppies.
Theodore Roosevelt’s inherited fortune and guilt came from American participation in selling opium in China. Once promoted by assassination to the Presidency, the former Police Commissioner who had served the Comstockers and Anti-Vice societies as muscle to enforce Sunday closing of New York Saloons set out to put the Teeth into Temperance. Industrial alcohol would be excise-tax-free, provided poison were added to sicken, blind and/or kill any who drink it.
Bureau of Chemistry guru Wiley chose a pharmacopoeia definition of whiskey and wrote a Decision to make it binding. Countering government chemist Wiley, Attorney‑General Bonaparte differed as to the Revealed definition of “whiskey” and offered his own alternatives:
The following seem to me appropriate specimen brands or labels for (1) “straight” whisky/whiskey, (2) a mixture of two or more “straight” whiskies, (3) a mixture of “straight” whisky/whiskey and ethyl alcohol, and (4) ethyl alcohol flavored and colored so as to taste, smell, and look like whisky/whiskey.
(1) Semper Idem Whisky/whiskey: A pure, straight whisky/whiskey mellowed by age.
(2) E Pluribus Unum Whisky/whiskey: A blend of pure, straight whiskies with all the merits of each.
(3) Modern Improved Whisky/whiskey: A compound of pure grain distillates, mellow and free from harmful impurities.
(4) Something Better than Whisky/whiskey: An imitation under the pure food law, free from fusel oil and other impurities. (Other suggestions primly censored as politically unwoke.)
The gauntlet was flung, the challenge accepted, and so began one of many parallel legal battles whose first casualty would be the American banking system and economy.
Brazilian Sci-fi from 1926 featuring the usual beautiful daughter of a scientist touting prohibition and racial collectivism in America’s Black President 2228 by Monteiro Lobato, translated by J Henry Phillips (link)
Find out the juicy details behind the mother of all economic collapses. Prohibition and The Crash–Cause and Effect in 1929 is available in two languages on Amazon Kindle, each at the cost of a pint of craft beer.