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Prohibition History

               Prohibition History Film Clips

The Spirit of Disobedience (Reader's Digest, 1923)

During the Jazz Age, there were a number of opinion pieces published concerning the general feeling of malaise and disillusionment that was experienced throughout most of the Western nations. In this article, written by a well known Protestant theologian of the time, it is stated that a new day has come to America - one that shows itself with a blatant disrespect for law and order.

"Our most obvious lawlessness is the breaking of the prohibition laws... The shame of the present situation is that the law is not being chiefly outraged by poor people; it is mainly the men of means, prestige and influence, who ought to know better. Obviously there has been a breakdown of authority in the state and the rise of a rampant and selfish individualism."


Farewell to Alcohol (Literary Digest, 1919)

Published at a time when America stood so reluctantly on the doorstep of the Prohibition era, an unnamed editor at The Literary Digest compiled a number of quotes from numerous literary sources as if to illustrate the deep roots the Western world of belles-lettres has invested in the culture of alcohol.


Mabel Walker Willebrandt Takes On Prohibition (Collier's Magazine, 1924)

An article about Mabel Willebrandt (1889 - 1963), the Assistant Attorney General of the United States between the years 1921 through 1929, her tremendous successes in the past and her ambitions to hold fast in the enforcement of the Volstead Act:

"'Give me the authority and let me have my pick of 300 men and I'll make this country as dry as it is humanly possible to get it,' she said without the slightest trace of braggadocio. 'There's one way it can be done: get at the source of supply. I know them, I have no patience with this policy of going after the hip-pocket and speakeasy cases. That's like trying to dry up the Atlantic ocean with a blotter.'"

When Mrs. Willebrandt stepped down some seven years after this article went to press, she questioned the willingness of the nation's law enforcement agencies to see the job through.


The New Guy Who Took Her Place (Literary Digest, 1929)

"Making his bow to the nation with the praise of the Anti-Saloon League and of Andrew J. Volstead, father of the Prohibition law, ringing in his years, Mr. Youngquist (1885 1959) was quick to announce that

"I am dry politically and personally, but I am not a fanatic on the subject."


Congress Adresses the Problem of the Hip-Flask (Literary Digest, 1927)

Seven years after wine and spirits were banished from the land, the government in Washington felt pressured to discipline all those restaurateurs who failed to defenestrate their patrons who brought illicit drink into their establishments. This is an article about how an attempt was made to get restaurant owners to police their customers.


Prohibition Comes to Washington, D.C. (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)

In 1917 Washington, D.C. had no mayor, no city council and no say as to the goings on in Congress - the city was lorded over by the President and a Congressional commission. It was set up that way by the founders - and that is how Prohibition came to Washington, D.C. two years earlier than the rest of the nation: with the flick of his wrist, President Wilson signed the Sheppard Bill, legislation that declared that after November 1, 1918 all alcohol would be prohibited in the District of Columbia.


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