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Prohibition History

               Prohibition History Film Clips


W.W. I and the Advancement of Prohibition (Literary Digest, 1916)

Since the earliest days of World War I, the European combatant nations made some adjustments in regard to the sale of alcohol and the hours in which pubs could operate. When the U.S. entered the war in April of 1917, Congress decided that they had better do the same - but they were far more harsh on the topic - closing bars entirely and outlawing all wines and spirits - except for their use in religious sacraments. In the attached article journalist gathered data from various newspapers that were located in states that were already dry in order to study how the experiment was proceeding.

 

Christianity vs. Prohibition (The North American Review, 1918)

Seeing that much of the momentum to prohibit the national sale, distribution and consumption of wine and spirits originated with a hardy chunk of the observant Christian community, the Reverend John Cole McKim decided to weigh in on the topic. McKim tended to believe that:

"Christ, being divine and consequently infallible, could not have erred. Since it is well known that Christ used wine Himself and gave it to others..."

He further opined:

"But to vote what one regards as a natural right shall be declared forever illegal, is cowardly, un-American, and un-Christian."

 

A Briton on American Prohibition (Current Opinion, 1921)

Alfred Charles William Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865 - 1922) was an influential soul back in the day who owned a string of widely-read newspapers. Just months prior to his death, he spent some time stateside and drew some conclusions regarding American Prohibition which were noteworthy:

"While in our midst he made up his mind about Prohibition. In his opinion it is a failure... His reasons seem to be that he saw plenty of liquor everywhere he was entertained; that Prohibition encourages hypocrisy in the vision of the law, and that he did not like it anyhow... But America has taken it's stand and will stick to it."

 

The 1918 New York Elections (The Stars and Stripes, 1918)

By the time this short notice was seen on page one of THE STARS and STRIPES during the Spring of 1918, the political momentum was clearly on the side of the Prohibition advocates and the voters of many states had elected to go dry long before the Congress had decided to amend the Constitution. The 1918 election in New York between Wets and Drys was a close one and the eyes of the nation were watching. The headline read:

"PROHIBITION RACE NOW NECK AND NECK: TWENTY NEW YORK CITIES DRY AND NINETEEN WET..."

The deciding and unknown factor was the women of New York, who were permitted to vote in municipal elections.

 

Anti-Soft Drink Legislation Defeated (The Atlanta Georgian, 1917)

On the same day that it was announced that the state of Georgia was going to prohibit alcohol a full year and a half prior to the Congressional measure, a bill died in the state legislature that would have prohibited all alcohol substitutes that had caffeine, as well (Georgia, you'll recall is the home of the Coca-Cola Company):

"In an effort to force the "bone-dry" majority of the House to the greatest extreme, Representative Stark of Jackson, Friday offered an amendment which would have barred all substitutes for liquor, all patent medicines, and soft drinks containing caffeine."

 

Wet vs. Dry (Vanity Fair, 1918)

If you are looking for a serious report concerning the political battles fought in Congress regarding Prohibition (1919 - 1933), you can keep looking. The attached essay is a humorous parody of that dispute between the Drys and Wets as it existed just months before the 'Noble Experiment' began in earnest. By November of 1918, the American newspaper readers had simply overdosed on the redundant writings of assorted war correspondents - and so, with a bit of whimsy, the VANITY FAIR writer George S. Chappell sat down to write about the political war between these two groups using the same journalistic affectations everyone was so heartily sick of. You will also find a mock military map depicting the faux topography in dispute.

 


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