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History Of Prohibition
  • MODERATION WAS THE NORM
  • SOCIAL CONTROLS WERE STRONG
  • CHANGE AND REVOLUTION CREATED PROBLEMS
  • BIRTH OF THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT
  • FROM TEMPERANCE TO TOTAL ABSTINENCE
  • PAVING THE ROAD TO UTOPIA
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF ALCOHOL EDUCATION
  • TEMPERANCE TEACHINGS
  • SCIENTIFIC TEMPERANCE INSTRUCTION CRITICIZED
  • THE LEGACY
  • THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT
  • PROHIBITION AND THE KKK
  • ANOTHER TRY FOR PROHIBITION
  • TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT BIDES ITS TIME
  • THE NEW TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT
  • SUMMARY
  • Appendix
  • History Of Prohibition

    ANOTHER TRY FOR PROHIBITION

    While the president and most of the country recognized prohibition as a national disaster, clearly many temperance activists did not. Prohibition had been a major legacy of World War I (Rubin, 1979, p. 236, Clark, 1976, pp. 122-129; Timberlake, 1963, pp. 173-176) and, with war in Europe, temperance leaders again hoped to take advantage of the national emergency that would occur if the United States were drawn into that conflagration. One asserted that "the full force of dry pressure would once again be brought to bear on Congress" if we entered the war in order "to get as much prohibition as .. . possible" (Childs, 1947, p. 219). Stressing that World War I had been the impetus for prohibition, a protemperance journal predicted promising times ahead (Rubin, 1979, p. 237).

    After the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor in 1941, temperance leaders tried to have all alcohol prohibited on all military bases. One dry leader said, "I would rather have a sober son in a concentration camp in Germany than in a service camp in America if that son should become the victim of the drink habit" (Rostow, 1942, pp. 230-231). However, the Secretary of War insisted that "temperance cannot be attained by prohibition," and supported the sale of beer and light wine on military bases. He believed that this policy had "caused a degree of temperance among Army personnel which is not approachable in civil communities now" by encouraging soldiers "to remain on the reservation (their home) and enjoy refreshment under conditions conducive of temperance" (Rubin, 1979, pp. 238-239). Similarly, Army Major Merrill Moore called for policies to encourage moderation among soldiers who chose to drink and asserted: "Not alcohol, but the intemperate use of alcohol, is the problem in the Army as well as in civilian life" (Moore, 1942, p. 249). The Office of War Information pointed out that bootleggers could not be regulated whereas legal dispensers could (Rubin, 1979, p. 253).

    Furthermore, the availability of beverage alcohol was seen by military authorities as good for morale and the war effort. Brewers were required to allocate 15 percent of total annual production of beer for use by the armed forces; local draft boards were authorized to grant deferments to brewery works who were highly skilled and irreplaceable; the Teamsters were ordered to end a strike against Minneapolis breweries because beer manufacturing was considered an industry essential to the war effort; and near the end of the war, the army made plans to operate recaptured French breweries to ensure adequate supplies for the troops (Rubin, 1979, p. 240).

    An editorial in the daily newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe, The Stars and Stripes, expressed alarm at temperance activities back home in the United States. It observed that:

    Taking advantage of wartime conditions and restrictions, the new prohibition group is working night and day for legislation which will give America prohibition in fact if not in name.... We can remember the days of prohibition, when moonshine whiskey made quick fortunes for bootleggers, crooked politicians and dishonest police officials. As a result we claim we know what we want in the way of liquor legislation and feel those at home should wait until we return before initiating further legislation on liquor control. (Childs, 1947, pp. 248-249)

    Perhaps in the belief that the end justifies the means, temperance leaders frequently made clearly erroneous assertions. For example, a leading dry editor wrote that "The liquor interests use more than 1,250,000 tons of sugar every year, which is more than the one-half pound ration per week for every man, woman and child in the United States of America" (Childs, 1947, p. 224). Actually, no sugar is used in producing distilled spirits beverages. Similarly, the president of the WCTU wrote that "Total consumption of legal and illicit liquor in the fiscal year ended June 30, 1941, was approximately 2,017,835,015 gallons," (Childs, 1947, p. 225). That would have been over 15 gallons for every man, woman, and child in a country that contained a large proportion of abstainers!

    Dry leaders insisted that Congress prohibit the production of alcohol beverages for at least the length of the war, arguing that intoxication caused the disaster at Pearl Harbor, wasted precious raw materials, reduced efficiency through excessive absenteeism, and would lead to loose lips among those with military secrets. But Congress would not be swayed this time (Rubin, 1979, pp. 245-246). 16

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