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Prohibition People and Terms
Anderson, William H. William Anderson was one of the most successful lobbyists of the Anti-Saloon League (ASL). The "dry warrior" used such tactics as false rumors, forged documents, character attacks, and intimidation. The combative political operative's tactics were enough to "make your blood run cold and your hair stand up" reported one victim of Anderson's machinations, Thaddeus Sweet, Speaker of the New York State The New York Times expressed concern over Anderson's bigotry. He attacked Jews, Irish, Italians and others whose cultures generally included the consumption of alcohol. However, Catholics were a special target of Anderson's bigotry. Anderson's tactics successfully helped the League and other drys change the United States Constitution.
Anti-Saloon League. The ASL was a non-partisan organization established in 1893 that focused on the single issue of prohibition. From 1948 until 1950 it was known as the Temperance League, from 1950 to 1964 it was called the National Temperance League; since that time it has been known as the American Council on Alcohol Problems.
Association Against the Prohibition amendment (AAPA). The AAPA was established in 1918 and became a leading organization working for the repeal of prohibition.
Barr, Daisey Douglas. Ms. Barr was Imperial Empress (leader) of the Indiana Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) in the early 1920s and an active member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). However, in 1924, the Klan charged that Barr "had amassed a fortune off the dues of Klansmen." Two years later she was replaced in her leadership position in the WKKK by Lillian Sedwick who was a state official in the WCTU.
Blind Pig. Illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition.
Bootleg. To sell illegal alcohol beverage; alcohol that is illegally sold.
Bootlegger. A person who illegally sold bootleg.
Cannon, James. Bishop James Cannon, Jr., chairman of the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals, was one of the most powerful leaders of the temperance movement. Journalist H. L. Mencken said of Cannon that "Congress was his troop of Boy Scouts and Presidents trembled whenever his name was mentioned." However, following evidence of sexual misconduct, financial irregularities, and conspiring to violate the Federal Corrupt Practices Act, this anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic prohibitionist lost most of his power.
Crusaders. The Crusaders was an influential repeal organization founded in 1929 from repugnance caused by the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago which resulted from rivalry among bootleggers. Rather than working at the national political level, the Crusaders chose to devote their efforts at the local level across the country.
Dodge, Earl. Longtime leader of the Prohibition Party, Earl F. Dodge was its candidate for vice-president of the U.S. in 1976 and 1980. He then became its candidate for presidency from1984 through 2004. Questions about his honesty and integrity, including charges that he mismanaged party funds and refused to provide any accounting for his use of party funds, led to dissention. After he held an invitation-only meeting in his home and then claimed that it was the lawful nominating committee, he was unseated at a public meeting called by a majority of the members of the Prohibition. He died in 2007.
Doggery. An illegal drinking establishment.
Drug Store Whiskey. Whiskey legally purchased from a drug store with a physician's prescription.
Dry. A person who opposes the legal sale of alcoholic beverages.
Eighteenth Amendment. The amendment to the United States Constitution that prohibited the manufacture, sale, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the only amendment to have ever been rejected by the American public and repealed.
Hunt, Mary. Mary Hunt became one of the most powerful women in the nation promoting prohibition. "By the time of her death in 1906, Mary Hunt had shaken and changed the world of education" with her campaign for coercive temperance education or "institutionalized prohibitionist propaganda." In 1901-1902, 22 million school children were exposed to anti-alcohol "education." In order to deal with the accusation that she profited from reform, she signed over to charity the royalties from her books. Her never-publicized charity was the Scientific Temperance Association, a group composed of Hunt, her pastor, and a few friends. The association used its funds to support the operations of the national headquarters of the WCTU's Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction, a large house in Boston that was Hunt's residence.
Jimmy. An illegal drinking establishment.
Johnson, William E. Better known as "Pussyfoot Johnson," William E. Johnson was a leader of the Anti-Saloon League and developed some of the tactics widely used by the League. For example, he wrote to wet leaders, claiming to be a brewer and asked them for advice on how to defeat temperance activists. He then published the incriminating letters he received. Pussyfoot seemed proud of his dishonesty. "Did I ever lie to promote prohibition? Decidedly yes. I have told enough lies for the cause to make Ananias ashamed of himself" he wrote in an article titled "I had to lie, bribe and drink to put over prohibition in America." (Ananias was a notorious liar in the New Testament.)
Joy, Henry B. Henry Joy, past president of the Packard Motor Company, had been a very active member of the Anti-Saloon League. However, after Treasury agents repeatedly came onto his land and destroyed the property of his elderly watchman looking for illegal beer, and after they fatally shot an innocent boater who couldn't hear over his motor the demand that he stop and be searched for alcohol, Joy had seen enough. He became active in the movement to repeal prohibition. He told a Congressional committee that "I do not want my wife, my children and my grandchildren living under such conditions as exist today [under Prohibition]."
Ku Klux Klan (KKK). One of the major supporters of Prohibition was the "second KKK," often called the KKK of the 1920s. The Klan was revived specifically to defend state prohibition in Georgia. One historian has observed that "support for Prohibition represented the single most important bond between Klansmen throughout the nation." Another scholar wrote that "enforcement of Prohibition, in fact, was a central, and perhaps the strongest, goal of the Ku Klux Klan."
Lincoln-Lee Legion. The Legion was established by Anti-Saloon League-founder Howard Hyde Russell to promote the signing of abstinence pledges by children. By 1925, over five million children had signed the total abstinence pledge cards.
Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals. This organization was a powerful force in the temperance movement and promoted the aggressive enforcement of Prohibition and attempted to eliminate any criticism of it. In 1925, it charged that vaudeville acts and comic strips were being used to dispense wet (anti-prohibition) "propaganda" in New York City, which it called "a foreign city, run by foreigners for foreigners according to foreign ideas." The founder of the Methodist Board advocated mandatory five-year imprisonment for anyone who purchased a pint or more of bootleg alcohol. He also urged the government to send the marines to speakeasies and open fire on the occupants if they refused to leave.
Moderation League of New York. The League was founded 1923 to change the legal definition of the "intoxicating liquors" prohibited by Prohibition. This seemed to its members to be an achievable goal, whereas the repeal of prohibition at that point seemed to be an impossibility.
Molly Pitcher Club. The Molly Pitcher Club was founded in 1922 in New York City as an organization of women opposed to the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
Moonshine. Illegally produced whiskey.
Nation, Carry. One of the most colorful members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was Carry Nation. Born Carry Amelia Moore Nation (she adopted the name Carry A. Nation mainly for its value as a slogan and had it registered as a trademark) is best remembered for using a hatchet to smash and destroy bars and their contents. She believed she was doing God's work and was highly intolerant of those who opposed her or her actions. Mrs. Nation applauded the assination of President William McKinley because she believed that he secretly drank alcohol and that drinkers always got what they deserved. She exploited her notoriety by appearing as a vaudeville entertainer, charging to lecture, publishing newsletters, selling photos of herself, and marketing souvenir hatchets.
National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act. This organization was established in 1931 by the American Federation of Labor, which opposed Prohibition and argued that it was the only amendment to the United States Constitution that removed the rights of citizens.
National Conference of Organizations Supporting the 18th Amendment. In the face of a growing groundswell of opposition to National Prohibition in the late 1920s, the National Temperance Council met in Washington, D.C., in 1930 to devise ways and means of countering the serious threat it posed. There, the 34 organizations composing the National Temperance Council re-organized to form the National Conference of Organizations Supporting the 18th Amendment.
Prohibition Party. The Prohibition Party was created in 1867 to advocate temperance and legislation prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages. It was an important force in US politics during the late 1800s and the early decades of the 20th century. The Prohibition Party is the oldest "third party" in the US and has nominated a candidate for president of the US in every election since 1872. In recent years it has suffered crippling internal dissent. See Earl Dodge entry.
Rockefeller, Jr. John D. Like his father before him, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., was a lifelong abstainer who strongly supported Prohibition and believed it would contribute to industrial efficiency and growth. He is believed to have contributed between $350,000 and $700,000 to the Anti-Saloon League. However, after years of observing Prohibition's failure and the problems that it created, Rockefeller came to support repeal of Prohibition. Rockefeller's change of belief contributed significantly to the success of the repeal movement.
Sabin, Pauline. In 1929, Pauline Sabin founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR) after the president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) asserted to Congress that "I represent the women of the United States!" Mrs. Sabin originally supported Prohibition. However, with the passage of time she became distressed at what she saw as the counterproductively of Prohibition, the decline in moderate drinking and the increase in binge drinking, the growing power of bootleggers, the widespread political corruption, the growth of mob violence, the increasing public intoxication, the growing disrespect for law, and the erosion of personal liberty at the hands of an increasingly intrusive centralized government. Thus, Mrs. Sabin and millions of other American women came to oppose Prohibition for the very reasons they originally supported it. They wanted the world be a safer place for their children and a better place in which to live.
St. Valentine's Day Massacre. An infamous mass murder in Chicago which resulted from rivalry among bootleggers.
Shuler, Rev. Robert P. The Prohibition Party candidate who received the highest vote in any election in U.S. history was Rev. Robert P. Shuler. In the 1932 California election for the U.S. Senate he received 560,088 votes (25.8%) and carried Orange and Riverside counties. Following his defeat, Shuler "placed an awful curse" on Southern California and some people attributed a later earthquake in that region to his curse. "Fightin" Bob Shuler owned a radio station but lost its license after his controversial broadcasts attacking Catholics, Jews, African Americans, and the Hollywood elite for their consumption of alcoholic beverages and their alleged dishonesty, corruption, and immorality. Shuler was unrelated to the pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.
Speakeasy. An illegal drinking establishment during Prohibition.
Sunday, Billy. William Ashley "Billy" Sunday was a famous evangelist and major promoters of Prohibition. As public opinion turned against Prohibition, "his sermons became more extreme and reactionary, promoting a specific type of Americanism that excluded those who were not native-born fundamentalist Christians. He amassed a fortune and died a wealthy man in 1935, leaving a substantial estate as well as trust funds for his children at the depth of the Depression.
Twenty-First Amendment. The amendment to the United States Constitution that repealed the Eighteenth Amendment that had created National Prohibition.
Volstead Act. Legislation sponsored by Andrew Volstead. . Officially named the National Prohibition Act, the legislation defined intoxicating liquors as beverages containing more than one-half of one percent alcohol and gave federal authorities the power to prosecute violations.
Volstead, Andrew. Andrew Volstead is often known as "The Father of Prohibition" because he sponsored and facilitated congressional passage of the National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act, which was largely written by Wayne Wheeler of the Anti-Saloon League. Shortly thereafter, Volstead lost his bid for re-election to Congress.
Voluntary Committee of Lawyers (VCL). The VCL was founded in 1927 by a group of prominent New York City attorneys. With its urging, the American Bar Association called for repeal the following year.
Wet. A person who supports the legal sale of alcoholic beverages.
Whale. A heavy drinker.
Wheeler, Wayne. As de facto leader of the National Anti-Saloon League and its head lobbyist, Wayne Wheeler developed what is now known as pressure politics. He became widely known as the "dry boss" because of his enormous power. As described by one historian: "Wayne B. Wheeler controlled six congresses, dictated to two presidents of the United States, directed legislation in most of the States of the Union, picked the candidates for the more important elective and federal offices, held the balance of power in both Republican and Democratic parties, distributed more patronage than any dozen other men, supervised a federal bureau from outside without official authority, and was recognized by friend and foe alike as the most masterful and powerful single individual in the United States." He died in 1927, touching off a power struggle within the League.
White Lightning. Illegally produced whiskey.
Wickersham Commission. The National Committee on Law Observation and Enforcement, popularly called the Wickersham Commission, was established in 1929. President Herbert Hoover appointed George W. Wickersham to head the group. The Commission consisted of eleven members who were officially charged with identifying the causes of criminal activity and making recommendations for appropriate public policy.
Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The WCTU was founded in 1874 and claims to be the oldest voluntary, non-sectarian women's organization in continuous existence in the world. Its membership peaked at about 200,000 members in the late 19th century and membership still requires signing a pledge of abstinence. It remains active today.
Women's Moderation Union. The Women's Moderation Union helped belie the Women's Christian Temperance Union's insistence that it spoke for American women in regard to Prohibition.
Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). The WONPR was established in 1929 specifically to challenge the long-held assumption that virtually all women in the United States supported Prohibition and its enforcement.
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