Repeal Organizations

The "Noble Experiment" of National Prohibition (1920-1933) failed completely in its promise to create a society with no alcoholic beverages and that would enjoy the fruits of increased productivity, a low crime rate, greater public morality, and enhanced health. To the contrary, it caused serious problems including the growth of organized crime; widespread gangsterism; death from tainted bootleg alcohol; violence and murder; law enforcement corruption; reduced tax revenue; political corruption; and increasing disrespect for law. This led to an increasing disillusionment by millions of Americans.

Journalist H. L. Mencken wrote in 1925 that "Five years of prohibition have had, at lest, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished."

The enthusiastic support generally given to prohibition by industrialists and business leaders had done much to maintain its support. But with the passage of time more and more business leaders became disillusioned with the consequences of the social experiment and publicly called for Repeal.

This led to the proliferation in the of organizations advocating for Repeal and dramatic increases in their membership. The better-known Repeal organizations included:

In addition, there were many local and state Repeal organizations. As in nation-wide organizations, local and state Repeal organizations often drew their membership from different groups (men, women, lawyers, Republicans, young men, organized labor, etc.), but they all opposed National Prohibition.

Women had been crucial in bringing about National Prohibition, which they thought would protect children and the family. As women became disillusioned and saw the great harm to the family and children caused by Prohibition, they became a mighty force demanding Repeal. And now they had the right to vote.

The success of the Repeal organizations and their members was reflected in the Repeal of National Prohibition on December 5, 1933.

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 continue to remain.

 

Resources on Repeal Organizations:

  • The Association Against the Prohibition Amendment reported it would remain neutral between the major parties in the Fall. New York Times, July 22, 1932.
  • Gross, M. Louise. 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.
  • 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.
  • Gross, M. Louise. 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.
  • Gross., M Louise. 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.
  • Gross, M. Louise. Survey of Scandinavian Liquor Control Systems including the Bratt System in Sweden, Also England and Poland. Harrison, NY: Women's Moderation Union, 1930.
  • Gross, M. Louise. 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.
  • Neumann, Caryn E. The end of gender solidarity: the history of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, 1929-1933. Journal of Women's History, 1997, Vol. 9.
  • New York Times. TO BACK SMITH AT POLLS.; Association Against Prohibition Amendment Will Vote Ticket. New York Times, September 24, 1924, p. 2.
  • Root, Grace C. Women and Repeal: The Story of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform. NY: Harper and Brothers, 1934
  • Stayton, William H. The official view of the Anti-Prohibition Association, Current History, April, 1928, 4-9. Stayton was referring to the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment
  • Stayton, William H. A Message for Opponents of Prohibition. (pamphlet) Washington, DC: Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, 1925.
  • Time. National Affairs: W. O. N. P. R. [Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform] Time, June 10, 1929.
  • Time. Torrid Talk. Time, February 24, 1930. Quotes from M. Louise Gross' testimony on Prohibition before the House Judiciary Committee as head of the Women's Moderation Union.
  • Time. Prohibition: United Repeal Council. Time, January 20, 1932.
  • Time. Prohibition: United Wets. Article about the United Repeal Council.
  • Time. Prohibition: 142 words. Time, July 11, 1932. Reported activities of the United Repeal Council.
  • Time. National Affairs: Wet [pro-Prohibitionist] Plans. Time, December 12,1927. Reports the activities and plans of William H. Stayton and the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.
  • Vose, Clement E. Repeal papers of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, Inc. 1927-1933: Files of Joseph H. Choate, Jr. and Harrison Tweed. Library, Wesleyan University.
  • Wadsworth, Jr., James W. Report by James W. Wadsworth, Jr., Chairman of the New York Division of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment. Albany, NY: Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, 1929.
  • Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). Third Annual Convention, Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, Washington, DC. Wilmington, DE: Hagley Museum and Library, downloadable computer file.
  • Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR), Pennsylvania Division, Records. (1930-1934). Twenty-nine lineal feet. Wilmington, DE: Hagley Museum and Library. Collection is available for research and a search aid is available online.
  • Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). Excerpts from the WONPR Convention, April 23-24, 1930. http://mdk12.org/instruction/curriculum/social_studies/ne/ne_woprohibition.pdf
  • Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform. Pennsylvania Division. Records, 1930-1934. Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE. (Includes correspondence of Pauline Sabin)
  • Wood, Charles S. (Ed.) A Criticism of National Prohibition. Washington, DC: Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, 1926.
  • The Constitutional Liberty League of Massachusetts. The Constitutional Liberty League of Massachusetts. Boston, MA: The Constitutional Liberty League of Massachusetts, 1929.
  • Cuvillier, Louis A. The National Constitutional Liberty League of America for Repeal of Modification of the 18th Amendment. New York: The National Constitutional Liberty League of America for Repeal of Modification of the 18th Amendment, 1927.

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