National Prohibition & Its Repeal in Arizona

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

Arizona had been among the first states to ratify the Constitutional amendment that created the Noble Experiment in 1920. Residents had expected Prohibition to improve health, promote morality, reduce crime, lower violence and protect young people. Unfortunately, it did none of these things.

Many Arizonians refused to relinquish their freedom to drink and the law was widely violated. The sheriff in one county alone reported that he has seized 152 stills, arrested 183 people for violating federal alcohol violations and 80 for violating state violations, all within a three-month period in 1925.

Many innocent people were effected by the illegal activities of moonshiners. For example, beekeepers frequently suffered the loss of their hives to those who used the honey in producing illegal alcohol. This, in turn, harmed farmers who needed the bees to pollinate their crops.

But there were much more serious problems caused the hastily made products made by by moonshiners. The beverages frequently contained toxic lead compounds from careless distillation as well as creosote for color and even embalming fluid for an extra "kick." Consumers sometimes suffered paralysis, blindness and even death.

Moonshiners and bootleggers typically had to bribe law enforcement officers in order to operate their businesses. The breakdown in public morality led to disrespect for Prohibition in particular and law in general.

It became fashionable to flaunt the law and women, for the first time, wome widely became drinkers. And Prohibition led to a pattern of less frequent but much heavier consumption. People didn't go to a speakeasy to have a leisurely drink with their dinner but to guzzle alcohol while they could.

Needless to say, there was the violence that accompanied the organized crime that Prohibition fed.

Residents came to realize that Prohibition didn't improve health but threatened it, didn't promote morality but eroded it, didn't reduce crime but created it, didn't lower violence but raised it, and didn't protect young people but endangered them.

Arizonians had suffered enough and over three-quarters of them voted to repeal the disastrous social experiment known as Prohibition.

 

Additional Reading:

  • Asbury, Herbert. The Great Illusion: An Informal History of Prohibition.
    New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 (Originally published 1950).
  • Behr, Edward. Prohibition: Thirteen Years that Changed America. NY:
    Arcade, 1996.
  • Cashman, Sean D. Prohibition: The Lie of the Land. New York:Free Press, 1981.
  • Clark, N. H. Deliver Us From Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York: Norton, 1976.
  • Furnas, J. C. The Life and Times of the Late Demon Rum. New York: G. P.
    Pumam's Sons, 1965.
  • Kerr, K. Austin. Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League. New haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985.
  • Kobler, John. Ardent spirits: the rise and Fall of Prohibition. NY: G. P.
    Putnam's Sons, 1973.
  • Krout, John A. The Origins of Prohibition. New York: Knopf, 1925.
  • Kyvig, David. Repealing National Prohibition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
  • Odegard, Peter H. Pressure Politics: The Story of the Anti-Saloon League.
    NY: Columbia University Press, 1928.
  • Rose, Kenneth D. American Women and the repeal of Prohibition. NY: New York University Press, 1996.
  • Sinclair, Andrew. Prohibition: The Era of Excess. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., 1962.
  • Willebrandt, Mabel Walker. The Inside of Prohibition. Indianapolis, IN:
    Bobbs-Merrill, 1929.

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