Sunday, March 1, 2020

W. J. Rorabaugh

W. J. Rorabaugh is Dio Richardson Professor of History at the University of Washington. He is the author of six books, including The Alcoholic Republic, American Hippies and Prohibition: A Concise History.

From his Q&A at the OUP Blog:

Q: What was Prohibition, and when did it take place?

A: During the 1920s the Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution banned the production and sale of alcohol in the United States.

Q: How long did Prohibition last?

A: Prohibition lasted only thirteen years. The Twenty-First Amendment repealed Prohibition in December 1933.

Q: If the United States had long been a hard-drinking country, how did the dry minority achieve Prohibition?

A: The dry forces had superior political organizations. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) had been campaigning for a dry country since 1874, and in 1895 it was joined by the Anti-Saloon League (ASL). The nation’s first single-issue political action group, the ASL spent lavishly to elect dry legislators and members of Congress. Whenever they had a majority in a state legislature, they moved to dry out that state. In 1913 they started lobbying for a dry amendment to the US Constitution.

Q: How did the Republicans and Democrats respond to the ASL’s demands?

A: Both parties were terrified of the ASL, which moved aggressively to defeat any candidate that did not agree to its demands. The ASL spent lavishly on campaigns, provided its candidates with speech writers and advertising, and organized an army of dry volunteers through evangelical churches.

Q: How did wet candidates confront these tactics?

A: Many wet candidates took money from the German-American Alliance, an official group founded in 1900 by the German government to foster better German-American relations and promote...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue