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."
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."
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.
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."
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.
"Prohibition has been pretty rough on everybody, but there is no class of people which it has hit so hard as the theater-goers. The Federal Amendment has completely wrecked their evenings. It isn't so bad while the show is going on; the blow falls between the acts. In happier times the intermissions were the high spots of the evening..."
With pin-point accuracy, Vanity Fair was able to identify the new minority-victim class that emerged from America's unfortunate experiment with Prohibition: Broadway theater enthusiasts (It might be argued that the real victims were American bar tenders, many of whom high-tailed it over to Europe where they established a number of American-style bars).
The attached page from the magazine can be classified as humor and is illustrated with six great sketches by Edith Plummer.
Read other articles from 1919.