Brief History of American Gambling Part 2
England banned any and all lotteries that were designed to support the colonies the colonists would have to find other ways to support themselves on the verge of independence the government once again found itself in need of cash General George Washington had a war to fight and the colonial coffers were nearly bare with the support of the populace the first national lottery was established to fund the Revolutionary War 100,000 tickets were sold with prizes ranging from $20 to $50,000 to be paid in Treasury notes so for a five-year period although the government goal of 1 million dollars was not reached enough money was raised to provide a temporary reserve that same year while composing the Declaration of Independence.
Thomas Jefferson proclaimed gaming corrupts our disposition and teaches us a habit of hostility against all mankind accordingly he kept meticulous records of his backgammon and card winnings the years following the Revolutionary War saw unprecedented growth in America’s population the hard-fought independence bred a new attitude and gambling was soon enjoyed among all classes of society more important to this growing acceptance of gambling was the emergence of a backwoods hustler with political ambition during the early 1800s no one enhanced the reputation of gambling and the West.
More than Andrew Jackson described by a friend as the most rollicking roaring game cocking horse-racing card playing mischievous fellow that ever lived Jackson brought common man risk-taking to the American forefront it was a backwoods jurist he was of course a retired general and he was a leading political figure he killed one man in a duel which apparently came about as a result of an argument about a debt settlement from gambling as a child Jackson bet against grown men at the local cockfights during his college years he gambled away his inheritance.
On a dice game but it was horse racing that Jackson was most passionate about he owned horses he had really quite a famous horse Truxton who won what is known as a fairly famous the early match race against the horse called grin prior to the match race Jackson’s subjected Truxton to a severe training program that many felt was too rigorous by race time most of the betting action fell on Greyhound farmers bet tobacco plantation owners their cotton Jackson remained confident you must risk to win he often said and in his race he did just that Jackson not only had a string of horses at stake but also all the clothes he could take from the house including some of his wife’s Truxton won in straight heats and Jackson quickly purchased the loser greyhound after the race Jackson described himself as eased in my finances and replenished in my wardrobe after being elected president Jackson frequently attended the National race track just outside of Washington.
He was regularly joined by enough congressmen that votes were suspended until the last race was run. Gambling had made the big time that was still technically illegal but before long commercial gambling took hold the New Orleans where the first casinos dubbed carpet joints were introduced gambling became so rampant during the early 1800s that legislators openly discussed legalization until pressure from law enforcement officials happily on the take persuaded otherwise seething in the background with a moralists small but growing in power they were compelled to do something before the gambling epidemic completely overtook America their response was brutal and would become one of the seminal moments in the history of gambling.