After looking for an interesting subject for this paper a long time, the idea to find out what the Prohibition in the United States of America was came to my mind. This subject is something that people (in the Netherlands, but also in the United States) are quite unfamiliar with. It's a piece of history that is, even in American history books, told in only one or two paragraphs. The idea to get to know as much as I could about an unknown subject appealed to me.
In this paper I will try to find out the answer to these three key questions:
1) Why was the National Prohibition Act introduced?
2) What happened after the Prohibition was officially introduced?
How did it affect the average American citizen?
Did the implementation of the law have the desired effect?
Who were the infamous gangsters that profited by the consequences of this law?
3) Why, when and by whom was the National Prohibition Act repealed?
But before I answer these questions, there are some ‘basic Prohibition expressions' that I have to explain to you before starting.
The first one is The National Prohibiton Enforcement Act. It is also known as the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, the ‘Volstead Act' or simply Prohibition. It was meant to limit the growing problem of alcoholism and saloons in America. This is what it said:
“The 18th Amendment to the U.S. constitution is an Act to prohibit intoxicating beverages, and to regulate the manufacture, production, use, and sale of high-proof spirits for other than beverage purposes, and to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye, and other lawful industries”
As you can see, it did not prohibit the drinking of alcoholic beverages itself, but of course the people who introduced the law expected that the amount of people who drank would drop, simply because it would be harder for people to find it.
Temperance is a synonym for self-control. It means that you moderate your use of alcoholic beverages. A Temperance Movement is a social movement that fights against (excessive) alcohol use.
The other expressions I want to bring forward are the nicknames Americans came up with for the different sides of the debate. The American people were divided into two camps: ‘the Dry's' and ‘the Wets'.
The Drys were the people that supported Prohibition. These supporters were mostly religious, female and living in rural areas of the United States. They expected that America would profit by Prohibition, since men would (hopefully) bring their paychecks home, instead of drinking it away in the saloons. They also expected that abuse caused by drunkenness would fade away. The leader of the Drys was without a doubt Wayne Wheeler, the man who lead The Anti-Saloon League.
The Wets were the people that opposed Prohibition. They were mostly male, people living in the cities and new immigrants from countries like Germany and Ireland. They believed that with Prohibition would come an increase of criminal activity. They believed that men would still want to have their drink after work and that a simple thing like a law would not prevent them doing so. (0)
Why was the National Prohibition Enforcement Act introduced?
Alcohol was something that every American man drank. To know why, we have to go back to the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages people drank beer instead of water, because water was not safe to drink. During the 1800's, at the beginning of the United States as a country, this was less of a problem: technology had advanced and water was now safe to drink. Drinking alcohol became a habit. But, at first this meant that people drank beer. Later, distillery became more known and beverages with a higher percentage of alcohol like rum and whiskey found it's way to the saloons.
“All of a sudden, you have all of these farmers growing corn, grains, meant to be distilled into whiskey. And so all of these rituals that had been part of the human experience, where farmers would get up and have beer with breakfast, and beer with lunch beer with your afternoon lunch and with dinner. But that was two percent beer. Now, people drank whiskey instead, and it took a while for the culture to recognize that there was something really wrong here.”
Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Every year, the average American man (of 15 years old and more) drank as much as 88 bottles of whiskey per year. Americans spent more money on alcohol each year than the expenses of the Government combined. It was not uncommon for doctors to prescribe alcohol. A small amount of bourbon could soften astma symptoms, diabetes patients could be treated with brandy. (1)
A part of the American society knew that it could not go on like this: something had to change. The following century, the American people fought against alcoholism. They tried to do that by forming several clubs, unions and associations. Some were small communities in little towns, some were big and spread out over different states. I will tell you something about some of these alliances in the following chapters.
It's April 2, 1840. Six friends gathered in a saloon in Baltimore, as they did every day. A temperance speaker was lecturing in their hometown that night, and 4 of thought going there would be a funny occasion. And so they did. After discussing the lecture later that evening with a drink, one of them proposed the idea to quit drinking forever. They all signed a pledge saying that they would never drink again. Their method was simple: the members would sit down and talk with each other about their thoughts. There also was a great amount of social control involved: if you began to drink again, you would be stopped by another member who saw what you did. They called themselves the Washingtonians, after the first president of their country.
Before long, the “Washingtonians” were everywhere. After one year, the group had one thousand members, all former drunkards who had given up their bad habits. At its top, the Washingtonians had more than half a million supporters. The Washingtonians became the precursor of the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), an organization that was founded one hundred years after the Washingtonians but still exists today. Although the Washingtonians did very good work, the church condemned them; according to the church, the only way to be cured from alcoholism was joining a church and believing in God. Eight years after the Washingtonian group was founded, it was shut down due to a lack of organization and a lack of shared views. The Washingtonians did not fight for something like Prohibition yet, but it shows a change in the American culture.
As I have told you, the church did not support the Washingtonians. But at the same time and after the emergence of the Washingtonians, the Protestant church began to act. They preached that the United States of America should be cleaned of sins like slavery, crime, but also drinking. Of course, the religious community followed their church and gathered in groups, calling themselves ‘The American Temperance Movement'. This group first wanted to abolish the heavy liquors like rum, brandy and whiskey, but later they demanded a total abolishment of every alcoholic beverage. This group's followers all signed the ‘Cold Water Pledge', and by doing that they became members of the ‘Cold Water Army'. Signing this pledge meant that you never drink anything else than cold water. Alcohol became a symbol for every flaw in the American culture: poverty, prostitution, bad marriages, violence, et cetera. With alcohol being a symbol, a logical conclusion was drawn: alcohol had to be banned entirely. (7)
Eliza Jane Thompson and the Women Temperance Union
Eliza Jane Thompson was the daughter of an Ohio governor. She was a Temperance supporter, and had, just like many other Temperance supporters, seen the impact on alcoholism with a relative, her eldest son. He died due to a doctor prescribing him alcohol, and he overdosed.
At first, there was nothing she could do for her son, except for grieving. But then in 1873, a Temperance lecturer spoke in her hometown and urged the town's wives and mothers to protest in the streets against drinking. Eliza's husband, a local judge, was against such a protest: it was not a woman's business. Eliza told him that it was time for women to act, instead of men, who had done it such a long time but who never succeeded. On Christmas' Eve, she and 200 other women went to church, and after that, protested. Dressed in black clothes, singing and standing in lines of two by two, they marched through the streets to their first stop: William Smith's drugs store on East Main Street. He was a physician, and they asked (or: demanded) him to sign a pledge, in which he promised never to fulfill a doctor's prescription for alcohol again. He did what they asked, but it is not certain whether it was out of compassion with the ideas of the women or because he was just terrified. After all, twohundred women were standing at his front door.
The women went to two other drug stores and achieved the same. After that, their targets were the saloons. They always used the same method: you would go to a saloon with a few other women, and you would go down on your knees in front of the saloon, in praying position. If you and your colleagues were all the right position, you would start praying. This was not only very disturbing for the owner of and people in the saloon, but by doing this you also blocked the entrance for new costumers. This was a very smart, yet bald action. Women in that time could not do such a thing normally, but it was accepted (by some) because after all, all the women did was pray. What was special about this action was that women in that time had no power at all. Actions like these were the only things they could possibly do, in addition to petition campaigns, demonstrations, and hymn-singing. The bald women did not stay unnoticed and soon, women were praying in front of saloons all over Ohio. They were called the Women's Crusade.
This action shut the entire state down. The economy in some cities, like London (London, Ohio) had stagnated absolutely. Even schools closed. Transferable ‘tabernacles' (small cabins in which women could pray) were put in front of several saloons. The entire saloon business had collapsed.
The Women's Crusade had now spread throughout the entire country. But not everything went as planned. Bigger towns with a larger population of immigrants were a harder nut to crack. According to the New York Times, the men in these cities would just push themselves through the mob into the saloons. Once they were in, they started mocking the praying women. In Cincinnati, the government even intervened: fire companies sprayed freezing water of the praying women. Bartenders would welcome the women inside their saloons, pretending to be friendly. Once the women were in they would pour buckets of beer over the heads of the women. Then, they pushed them back outside, into the snow.
The beer brewers were absolutely psychotic. One German brewer put a canon in front of a saloon and threatened to blow away the first crusador that dared to try to get past him. One woman lead her sisters on top of the canon and started singing a hymne. After an hour, the owner surrendered.
The Women's Crusade had spread through the entire country. In total, there were protests in 911 communities in 31 states. 1300 liquor seller closed their doors. Something radically changed in the minds of the American women: this was the first time they felt something like power. These women knew that they could not go back to their house, to wash clothes and clean the house, and let men attend to the politics. But, eventually, that was exactly what happened: the women understood that while they were praying, they did not feed their families and clean their houses. And very slowly, while these women went back to their household, saloons started reopening. Although these women had prayed and worked so hard to achieve what they had achieved, nothing changed: men still wanted to drink.
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Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
But, everything that Eliza Jane Thompson and the Women's Crusade had done was not pointless after all. The women that had prayed the year before, gathered in a national convention in 1874. It lead to the founding of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Frances Willard was, at first, secretary of the WCTU. Their slogan was “For God and Home and Native Land”. In 1879, when the WCTU had 250.000 female members, Frances Willard was elected president.
When she worked at home (in Illinois), she wrote letters, books and articles with and to her secretary Anna Gordon. But, these two women were rarely at home. The first nine years of her leadership, they visited (according to Willard herself) more than a thousand towns. She also found supporters abroad, and founded the World's WCTU. She gathered nearly one million signatures on a petition adressed to all the rulers of the world. In this petition, she demanded a global ban on alcohol.
Willard brought together the WCTU and the Women's Suffrage Movement. The WTCU was bigger, and and had more influence than ever. They installed public water fountains in parks and busy streets. They taught the people that this was a healthier alternative than beer and whiskey.
But getting rid of alcoholism was not the WCTU'S only goal. With the WCTU having more than 45 departments, they also fought for street children, fallen women, better woman's prisons, free kindergarten, equal pay for women, and raising the legal age for sexual activity from 10 to 16 years. But no programme had more impact than the Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction. This was meant to teach young children that drinking alcohol was bad.
Mary Hunt was the leader of this department. She persuaded several school boards to introduce temperance lessons in schools and forced several textbook makers to write her notions of Temperance down. Eventually, 22 million children in every state of the United States was lectured about temperance three times a week.
Teachers in kindergarten sang songs about temperace (“Tremble king alcohol, we shall grow up”). When children became older, they studied texts that told them about the dangers of alcohol. But, these texts were not always veracious.
In these texts, it was told that one drink could burn away your throat and other organs like stomach, liver and kidney, and could bring, eventually, death. Some specific drinks could explode into blue flames if you drank them. Mary hunt tried to achieve fear for alcohol, and she achieved that. But not with the truth.
Carry Nation and the Home Defenders Army
Carry Nation was a very religious woman. According to herself, God had told her to go to a particular saloon in a particular place. So that's what she did. She went into the saloon, carrying a small package. Inside the package were stones. She threw the stones at all the mirrors and bottles of alcohol she could see. After finishing her first saloon, she did the same thing with two others. After destroying three saloons, the other saloons made sure they didn't let her in. The sherriff came to help, but he did not arrest her.
Carry Nation had had a pretty rough youth, partly because of alcohol. That is probably where her hatred towards alcohol came from. In her home state, Kansas, people were sure she was absolutely mad and out of her mind. She went to a town nearby and attacked the most prestigious saloon in the entire area, the bar in a hotel called Hotel Cary's. Afterwards, she was arrested and put in jail. She became front-page news: “You've put in here a cub, and I will come out as a roaring lion.” After being released again, she went straight back to destroying bars. After her imprisonment, she didn't use stones anymore, she used hatchets. After being arrested and released a few times, she had to talk to the Governor, who tried to stop her. He did not succeed. Subsequently, she gathered hundreds of women (and a few men) with stones, hatchets and bricks. That day, Nation was arrested, imprisoned and released four times. She and her followers called themselves the Home Defenders Army and destroyed one hundred saloons that month.
The Home Defenders Army faded away, just like the Women's Crusade did. All these women had to go back to their households to feed their husband and children.
(Photo: “all nations welcome except Carrie”)
Neal Dow was one of the first men to do something really extensive for Prohibition. Before him, we have seen several woman's groups that fought for temperance and against saloons. All these Unions and Movements eventually faded away because they could not really achieve something extensive in politics, something like a law. Neal Dow did. He grew up in Portland with his parents. His parents were ‘Quakers', supporters of a Protestant church. This was a church that had strong non-violence beliefs. His father had his own small business, and a few employees. The employees drank a lot and Neal was disgusted about it. The employees were certainly not alone; Portland was a perfect example of an American city at that time. In Portland lived less than 10.000 people, but there were 200 legal liquor stores, and (an estimated) 400 unlicensed ones. That's one store per 17 inhabitants.
In 1938, Neal Dow founded the Maine Temperance Union (at the age of 34). With this union, he fought for a law that prohibited drinking alcohol all over Maine. At first, he did not succeed in passing the law. Later, when he was the officially elected as mayor of Portland, he succeeded by gathering thousands of signatures for a petition that demanded the ban of alcohol. The bill passed June 2 1851. For the first time, Prohibition was official in an entire American state.
But Neal Dow did not stop when his bill was official: he personally helped to raid liquor stores all over the Main. This was too much for a group of 3000 Irish immigrants, who protested and rallied against Dow and his actions. Dow immediatly commanded the state police to fire at the crowd, causing the death of one man, and the wounding of seven others.
But: some citizens found ways to profit from some of the loopholes in his law. For example fishermen. They smuggled alcohol into Maine in cofffins and barrels signed with ‘sugar' and ‘flour'. Bartenders charged money for salted crackers in their saloons, and then gave liquor for free. As I have said, the drinking itself was not illegal, but selling (even in the saloons) was.
Selling alcohol was not entirely forbidden: it was still allowed for people who needed it ‘for medicinal purposes'. Physicians did not hesitate to make some extra money, and wrote prescriptions for everyone who was willing to pay for it. On the streets, men sold swigs of whiskey from bottles hidden under their trousers and in their boots. These illegal liquorsellers soon became (in)famous and received their own nickname: Bootleggers. (2) (3) (4)
The Anti-Saloon League
It's 1893. The Anti-Saloon League was founded and it would become the most influential political pressure group in the history of the United States of America.
The founder, Howard Russel, used to be an attorney, Republican politician, and a reverend. He, unlike other groups, just focused on one particular goal: banning alcohol in the entire country.
The Anti-Saloon League came into politics as a political party, but they didn't care for any of the problems that other political parties had to deal with, for instance horse racings and free trade: their only goal was a federal ban on alcohol. The Anti-Saloon League had a national headquarters for its campaign, they had a staff to oversee thousands of people who volunteered for them, to oversee donations and church collections. Supporters of the The Anti-Saloon League mostly went to churches and did their volunteering work out of love for God.
Wayne Wheeler and the Anti-Saloon League
Without Wayne Wheeler, there would have been no Prohibition. Although he is not a known figure nowadays, he was famous during his own time for being a ruthless politician, fighting for what he believed was right. According to The Baltimore Evening Sun, he would be a known figure in the future.
“Nothing is more certain than that when the next history of this age is examined by dispassionate men, Wheeler will be considered one of its most extraordinary figures.”
The Baltimore Evening Sun
This turned out to be false, but it certainly shows his reputation.
Wayne Bidwell Wheeler was born in Ohio in 1869. His father was a farmer. His uncle had died because of alcohol abuse and Wayne himself had been injured by a drunken man carrying a pitchfork. He studied Law School and became attorney for the Anti-Saloon League (back then, not as big as it would be eventually) immediately after graduating.
At the beginning of his career in the Anti-Saloon League, he used a bike to go from door to door and to talk to people. By doing that, he tried to make sure that a candidate for the Senate who was against Prohibition was not elected. Later, he was given more important jobs, he was a smart, capable man. Wayne Wheeler was the man that developed ‘pressure politics', in his time even called ‘Wheelerism'. That means he was a House of Cards-like politician, who never backed away for anything as long as he had enough votes in favour of Prohibition. He became the head of the Ohio part of the Anti-Saloon League in 1903. That same year, there were 70 state legislators who were against Prohibition and the Anti-Saloon League. Wheeler made it his top priority to get them all out of the state parliament as soon as possible. Less than a year after that, he was done: all 70 legislators were out of office.
Another perfect example of the ruthlessness of Wheeler was his attack on Myron Herrick, the Governor of Ohio. It's 1905, and Wheeler has become one of the prominent leader of the Anti-Saloon League. Myron Herrick wants to bring down the ‘local option law': a law that said that each community should be able to decide for itself whether or not it wanted the selling of alcoholic beverages to be banned in their community. Wayne Wheeler was, obviously, not going to let that happen in his own state and he rallied the entire Anti-Saloon League against this man. He succeeded: due to the efforts of Wheeler, Myron Herrick was not re-elected as Governor of Ohio. Politicians from both parties now knew who they were up against: if you did not have the same notions as the ASL, you could better pack your bags and leave with an intact reputation.
The Anti-Saloon League kept growing and growing. After some time, all 46 states were influenced by the Anti-Saloon League. They overshadowed the women's groups and other small(er) groups who were fighting for Prohibition for more than a century. And that was not without a reason: these groups did not know anything about introducing laws and getting things done in politics.
In 1915, Wheeler moved to Washington and became national adviser, which meant he was (in a way) in charge of the entire Anti-Saloon League. In this job he solely focused on his goal of Prohibition all over America.
In his career as attorney for the Anti-Saloon League, the organization that he worked for during his entire life, Wayne Wheeler appeared in more than 3.000 lawsuits and he himself ‘could not recall losing more than 10 times.'
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Despite everything these people, whom I have described these last pages, did, more and more saloons opened each day. There were around 300.000 different saloons in America. For the working men, in the factory or mines, the saloon was some sort of a refuge from work and misery. They wouldn't just give it up in a heartbeat because the Anti-Saloon League and the church wanted them to. For the average laborer this was the place to learn English, to find out which of the employers hired men, get a job or even to pick up their mail. Politicians often owned saloons, not just to gain extra income for their campaigns but also to show their faces to the voters. Saloons were like a second home.
But, most of the saloons were not just private saloons, owned by citizens anymore: more and more, saloons were owned by one of the many big brewers in the United States like Pabst or Busch. In these saloons, only one brand of beer was sold: the one that owned the saloon. The brewer paid for the licences, salaries and even for the entire inventory of the saloon. This was around the 1890's. Dirty marketing tricks are not something that developed the last few decennia; it has been around for centuries. Around 1900, saloons started selling (or actually: giving away) ‘free warm lunches'. The saloonkeeper would give you cheese, crackers, sardines, an entire meal really for nothing. Beforehand, the saloonkeeper made sure that all these foods were extremely salty, which resulted in the fact that the costumers became thirsty, which made them order liters of beer. By doing that, they paid (indirectly) for their lunches.
Michael “Hinky Dink” Kenna and “Bathhouse John” Coughlin
There were some notorious places in the United States where saloons, brothels and gambling halls were located et cetera. These places were the 1900's equivalent of the Red Light District. These places were all over the United States. For instance Storyville in New Orleans, Midtown Tenderloin in New York, and the Levee District in Chicago.
The Levee District was without a doubt the most notorious of all. Michael Kenna was the supervisor of the Levee District, but also a Democratic official and a saloonkeeper. The Levee District was packed with everything God forbid. In 20 blocks (in the United States, cities are built up in blocks. In these 20 blocks, there were 500 saloons, 500 brothels, 56 poolrooms, 15 gambling halls and an uncountable amount of peep shows and cocaine dealers. Michael Kenna and John Coughlin organized a Ball every year, where all the most famous people would come to. It was the kind of event where waiters would pay to work. Every famous gangster, officer and sports player in Chicago would come. The money Kenna and Coughlin made in this Ball was all meant for the Levee District.
(Photo: map of the Levee District, myAlCaponeMuseum.com)
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Adolphus Busch and the brewers
The brewing industry was the biggest industry in the United States: they produced 107 billion liters of beer every year. At its top, the alcohol industry was 70% of the country's GDP.
Adolphus Busch was one of those beer brewers. He was someone like the 1850 equivalent of Freddy Heineken. After inheriting his father-in-law's brewing business, he changed it's name to ‘Anheuser-Busch Company' and made a fortune. 40 years later, he bought a company named Budweiser. Budweiser became the first company that knew how to bottle beer, which made it possible for the brewers to transport beer all over the country. It made Busch filthy rich. Budweiser (whose parent company is Anheuser-Busch InBev) still is the world's most sold beer until this day. In 2015, Anheuser-Busch InBev was in the news because it had bought its biggest competitor, SABMiller, for 105 billion American dollars. That deal was finished at 11th of november 2015. Adolphus Busch's company still is the world leader of beer, and it's the parent company of our world's most famous beer brands like Corona, Stella Artois, Jupiler and Leffe.
Adolphus Busch and other brewers were (of course) adversaries of the Prohibition. Since finances were not a problem for them, they bribed legislators and election officials, and gave journalists money to write editorials for them.
But in America a revulsion was felt against the worst excesses in the saloons they owned. The brewers accused the distillers of making horrible drinks that would ruin the American families, and at the same time the brewers advertised beer as a healthy drink (‘liquid bread'). They put money in the German-American Alliance: an alliance that initially wanted to encourage German culture, but after some time the brewers turned it into an anti-Prohibition army. They said that the Prohibition was an assault on German customs and the German people. At its top, 2 millions German Americans were a member of the Alliance.
Fun fact: Adolphus Busch never liked his own beer. He called it ‘that slop' and preferred red wine.
The Washington DC Mass March
It's 1912. The efforts of the WCTU and the Anti-Saloon League paid off. People in Georgia, Oklahoma, Maine, North Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia are all completely banned from buying alcohol. The number of saloons now finally stopped increasing and even dropped. Saloonkeepers still believed that a federal ban on alcohol was not an issue they should worry about: such a thing would never happen because the government depended so much on the taxes beer and liquor generated.
Then, in 1913, these saloonkeepers were not so sure anymore. A disaster took place for them: with help of the Anti-Saloon League the 16th Amendment of the Consitution took place. The government had finally introduced an income tax. This had been one of the Anti-Saloon League's top priorities for a long time. This meant that the government would gain a lot more revenue from other taxes, and that it would not depend solely on the beer and liquor taxes, as it did before. The Anti-Saloon League had lobbied for years and years to get this Amendment through: they knew that time had come for a nation-wide Prohibition.
December 10th 1913. Hundreds of people marched for Washington DC. There were two groups: hundreds of women, coming on behalf of the WCTU, and thousands of men, marching for the Anti-Saloon League. They marched for the capitol to demand Prohibition. Several other countries wanted a law that banned alcohol selling, but the United States went further than that. They did not simply want a law, they wanted a change of the Constitution. Laws were known for being withdrawn, but an Amendment of the Constitution had never been repealed before.
It's still December 10th, senator Shepherd of Texas sponsored the proposal for the 18th Amendment to the Constitution: the Prohibition. A Representative from Alabama presented it in the House of Congress. In order to get the Amendment passed, they had to get two-third of the House of Congress and Senate in favour. If they succeeded, the Amendment could go to the legislators of all 48 American states. If it would be approved by 36 of them, the Amendment was official. But all of that still had to happen.
In 1914, ‘the Drys' won the first vote in the House of Congress, with 197 in favour and 190 against the Amendment. Not enough yet, because they needed 255 votes in favour, but they were on the right track. Henry Ford (founder of the car company) was a known supporter of Prohibition – he believed that alcohol affected his employees in a bad way.
The Anti-Saloon League knew that their ultimate goal was reachable. They sent 50.000 trained speakers into the entire country. They preached for Prohibition and made people sign petitions. Some more states passed laws that banned alcohol, in addition to the 9 I have told you about before. Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Nebraska, Oregon, Colorado, Washington and Arizona were several other states that introduced Prohibition. 17 of the 48 states had it now. In most other states, it was already locally prohibited due to the local option law (a law that decided that it could be possible for each community to decide for itself whether or not it wanted Prohibition). This meant that half of the American population now lived under a law similar to Prohibition.
Woodrow Wilson was the American President at that time. He was trapped in his own party, the Democratic Party: one side of it wanted Prohibition, the other didn't. He was not sure what to do. To please both parties, he assigned members of both parties in the most prestiguous jobs. He appointed Josephus Daniels (a Dry) as Commander of the Navy. Daniels was not a man of half measures: he immediatly banned alcohol from the entire fleet.
All of this happened before the Declaration of War against Germany after intercepting the Zimmermann Telegram. German-Americans were blamed for it and were bullied because of it. All of this was an immense advantage for the Anti-Saloon League and the Drys; German-American brewers like Adolphus Busch and Pabst became scapegoats. Wayne Wheeler, leader of the Anti-Saloon League, ordered the House of Congress to investigate a link between the German-American Alliance and the brewers. By doing that, people thought that the brewers were guilty of treason. He called for a temporary stop of distributing grains to the brewers, and that bill was passed by the House of Congress and the House of Representatives. Prohibition, although only temporary, was official.
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