M. Louise Gross

M. Louise Gross (1884-1951) was secretary to New York City Tammany Hall district leader Thomas F. Foley and was a close associate of New York governor Al Smith. She went on to serve in leadership positions in repeal of prohibition organizations including the Molly Pitcher Club, the Women's Moderation Union, and the Women's Committee for Modification of the Volstead Act.

Gross' name is widely associated with the Molly Pitcher Club which she founded in 1922. The organization, named after a perhaps mythical Revolutionary heroine, was libertarian in orientation and attempted to prevent federal interference with personal behaviors that were not criminal. M. Louise Gross and her members did not believe that consuming alcoholic beverages should be criminalized.

In testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in 1930, Gross stated that unless the Volstead Act were changed before her two young nieces grew older, she would be sending them "abroad where they can learn to drink like ladies."

With the passage of time, National Prohibition created increasingly serious problems such as dangerous bootleg alcohol, organized crime, violence, law enforcement abuses, binge drinking, widespread political corruption, and an increasing disrespect for law. The American people came to realize this and rejected Prohibition by an overwhelming vote of three-to-one.

Surprisingly, in spite of the abysmal and undeniable failure of Prohibition, many people and organizations today support neo-prohibition ideas and strongly defend the many vestiges of Prohibition that still exist.

 

Resources on M. Louise Gross:

  • David E. Kyvig. Women against Prohibition. American Quarterly, 1976 (Autumn), 28(4), 465-482.
  • Kenneth D. Rose. American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition (American Social Experience Series; 33); 1996, New York University Press, New York, NY. Pg 67.
  • M. Louise Gross. M. Louise Gross papers, ca. 1898-1939. Papers of M. Louise Gross in connection with the Molly Pitcher Club, the Women's Committee for Modification of the Volstead Act, the Women's Committee for Repeal of the 18th Amendment and the Women's Moderation Union. NY: New York Public Library.
  • Louise Gross. Speech Delivered by M. Louise Gross, Chairman of the Women's Moderation Union, before the Tenth Congress of the International League Against Prohibition, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, June 27th to 29th, 1929. Harrison, NY: Women's Moderation Union, 1929.
  • M. Louise Gross. Survey of Scandinavian Liquor Control Systems including the Bratt System in Sweden, Also England and Poland. Harrison, NY: Women's Moderation Union, 1930.
  • M. Louise Gross. Brief History of the Women's Committee for Repeal of the 18th Amendment from 1920-1931. NY: Women's Committee for the Repeal of the 18th Amendment, 1932.
  • M. Louise Gross. Speech Delivered by M. Louise Gross, Chairman Women's Committee for Modification of the Volstead Act, before Members of the Reichstag in Hotel Adlon, Berlin, Germany, September 9, 1927; Alcohol Committee of the League of Nations General Assembly, Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, September 15, 1927; Lacremaillere, Paris, France, September 22, 1927. (pamphlet) Harrison, NY: Harrison Print, 1927.
  • M. Louise Gross. Speeches by Miss [M.Louise] Gross, Chairman of Women's Committee for the Repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, together with Clippings concerning Her Activities (1924-1930. NY: New York Public Library.
  • Time. Torrid Talk. Time, February 24, 1930. Quotes from M. Louise Gross' testimony on Prohibition before the House Judiciary Committee.

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