1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Prohibition
PROHIBITION.—In the earlier article (see 26.578) under Temperance, reference has already been made to the various methods devised for securing total abstinence from the consumption of intoxicating liquor, and in particular to the progress of the movement for legislative Prohibition in the United States up to the year 1910. This latter movement eventually culminated in the establishment of nation-wide Prohibition by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as proposed by Congress, Dec. 3 1917, ratified by the necessary three-fourths of all the states, and officially proclaimed, Jan. 29 1919, as part of the Constitution, becoming effective, in accordance with its terms, one year from the date of ratification by 36 states, namely Jan. 16 1920.
In the separate article under Liquor Laws the measures adopted in Great Britain for further regulating the liquor traffic during 1910 to 1921 are dealt with; and here it is only necessary to deal with the advent of complete national Prohibition in the United States, where its adoption forms one of the most interesting chapters in the social history of modern times. The movement for Prohibition was affected by new scientific knowledge, new views of industrial economics, and educational forces of great variety, considerably intensified, but not substantially changed in character, by the experience of the World War. The conviction had grown steadily in the United States that social and industrial efficiency, and national unity of purpose, could not be had at any cheaper price than the cost or sacrifices involved (whatever they might be) in national prohibition; and this belief had almost reached the point where it could be translated into effective governmental action even before the war necessitated a supreme effort for such efficiency. Surprising evidence of this was seen in the passage, by a majority vote (193 to 189) in the House of Representatives, of the Hobson amendment for national prohibition, Dec. 22 1914, two years and four months before the United States entered the war. Save for the war, the country would probably not have had constitutional (which means virtually permanent) national prohibition as early as 1920. Forces were, however, at work which would have probably brought it within another decade, and with it the “bone dry” enforcement contemplated in the National Prohibition Act (popularly called the Volstead Act), the significant title of which 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.”
Up to the wartime legislation of 1917 and 1918 and the Volstead Act of Oct. 28 1919 for the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment, there had been but little change since 1910 in Federal policy. Federal taxation of liquor was greatly increased for revenue purposes in 1917 and 1918. The increasing sentiment in favour of prohibition throughout the country was reflected, however, in other Federal measures. In 1913 the Webb-Kenyon Act was passed, over President Taft's veto. It was based on the constitutional grounds that the Act delegated power over interstate commerce, exclusively vested in Congress, to a state, by making illegal the shipment of liquor from a “wet” state to a “dry” state contrary to the laws of the latter. Some such measure seemed necessary in order that local prohibition might be enforced in “dry” territory. Another indication of national sentiment in favour of restriction is found in the same year in the passage of the Jones-Works Excise Bill for the District of Columbia, which reduced the number of licensed saloons by Nov. 1 1914 to not more than 300, about half as many as before. The Isthmian Canal Commission on July 1 1913, by an administrative order previously adopted, abolished 35 saloons in the Canal Zone by declining to issue any further licences for the sale of liquor. In 1915 absolute prohibition for the District of Columbia was proposed in a rider to an appropriation bill, and defeated in the Senate by a small majority, and in the same year a bill for that purpose was favourably reported in the Senate by the Committee on the District of Columbia. In 1916 the Judiciary Committee of the Senate reported, 13 to 3, a resolution proposing the National Prohibition Amendment to the Constitution. A similar resolution received a majority vote in the House of Representatives in Dec. 1914, though it failed to secure the two-thirds necessary for passage. During the years 1915 and 1916 many of the states had enacted statewide prohibition laws, and there was a considerable extension of dry territory under local option in wet states.
Early in 1917 Congress enacted the Federal Anti-Liquor Advertising Bill with the so-called Reed Bone-Dry Amendment, as an amendment to the Post-Office appropriation bill. This was a drastic prohibition of the use of the mails for advertising, or soliciting orders for, liquor in “dry” territory, and was an extension of the principle of the Webb-Kenyon Act. Congress also adopted prohibition for the District of Columbia, over which it has exclusive legislative power. It provided for prohibition in Alaska to be effective Jan. 1 1918, and in the Porto Rican Citizenship and Civil Government Act it made provision for a referendum in Porto Rico on prohibition. This was held in July 1917, and resulted in a vote of 99,775 for prohibition to 62,195 against. All this action by Congress took place before the declaration of war in April, 1917. Following that declaration came the enactment of wartime prohibition in the Food Control Act of Aug. 10 1917, the liquor restrictions of the draft law of May 18, and the extension of their application in the Act to promote the efficiency of the navy, approved Oct. 6 1917. These measures are discussed later in the section on wartime legislation.
Quite apart, however, from war legislation, on Aug. 1 1917 the Senate adopted the resolution proposing to the states the National Prohibition Amendment by a vote of 65 to 20 more than two-thirds of the members present, and this resolution was adopted by the House with some amendments Dec. 17 by a vote of 282 to 128. On Dec. 18 1917 the Senate concurred in the amendments made by the House, and the resolution was thereupon submitted to the Legislatures of the several states for ratification. Ratified by the last of the necessary 36 states (Jan. 16 1919), and proclaimed by the Secretary of State (Jan. 29 1919), it became the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, to go into effect one year from the date of its ratification, namely on Jan. 16 1920. The wording of the Amendment is as follows:—
1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided by the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
After Jan. 16 1919 the Amendment was ratified by all but three of the remaining states.
Whatever allowance may be made for the effect produced by the political activities of the Anti-Saloon League, an analysis of the vote in Congress for the submission of the Amendment showed a fair proportionate representation of the people residing in “dry” territory, and also the proportion of “dry” to “wet” territory in the United States. The subsequent votes in the State Legislatures on ratification of the Amendment corroborate this view. The accompanying table shows the order and dates of ratification by the several states, and the vote in each House of the State Legislatures by which ratification was enacted. The total number of votes in the state Senates or upper Houses, for ratification, was 1,297 in favour and 236 against, or 84% for national prohibition to 14% against; in the lower or more popular branch of the state Legislatures, the total vote for prohibition was 3,742, or 78%, to 1,001 or 22% against. It will be noted that in South Dakota, Idaho, Washington, Kansas, Utah and Wyoming no votes were cast against ratification.
The three states which had not ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to Sept. 1921 were Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. That the ratification of the proposed amendment failed in all three states by a very narrow margin is seen from the following facts. Rhode Island's State Senate by a vote of 20 to 18 on March 2 1918 postponed indefinitely the consideration of the ratification resolution; the resolution was presented again at the 1919 session, when the Senate voted 25 to 12 to postpone indefinitely its consideration. In Connecticut the Senate voted 14 for ratification and 20 against, and the House 153 for and 96 against. In New Jersey the House passed the ratification resolution, Jan. 24 1921, by a vote of 52 to 4, but the vote in the Senate on April 7 1921 was 10 in favour to 8 against, and the resolution failed because the state Constitution required at least 11 affirmative votes in the Senate as then organized.
Votes in Legislatures on Ratification of Eighteenth Amendment.
|Ratified by Upper House.||Ratified by Lower House.|
|(4) South Carolina||Jan.||18||1918,||28||to||6||Jan.||28||1918,||66||to||29|
|(5) North Dakota||Jan.||25||1918,||43||to||2||Jan.||25||1918,||96||to||10|
|(10) South Dakota||March||19||1918,||43||to||0||March||20||1918,||86||to||0|
|(21) West Virginia||Jan.||9||1919,||27||to||0||Jan.||9||1919,||78||to||3|
|(28) North Carolina||Jan.||10||1919,||49||to||0||Jan.||14||1919,||93||to||10|
|(35) New Hampshire||Jan.||15||1919,||19||to||4||Jan.||15||1919,||221||to||131|
|(41) New Mexico||Jan.||20||1919,||12||to||4||Jan.||16||1919,||45||to||1|
|(44) New York||Jan.||29||1919,||27||to||24||Jan.||23||1919,||81||to||66|
*Repassed in Lower House to correct error Jan. 23.
Following the adoption of the Amendment came the Volstead Act, which was passed over President Wilson's veto on Oct. 28 1919. Before that, however, in addition to further war legislation affecting the liquor traffic, Congress enacted in 1918 prohibition for Hawaii and in 1919 a bone-dry law for the District of Columbia.
National prohibition was proclaimed Jan. 29 1919, and the year of grace allowed by the Eighteenth Amendment for it to go into effect was intended to give liquor manufacturers and dealers time in which to liquidate their business and dispose of their stocks. The so-called wartime Prohibition Act, however, which was enacted 10 days after active warfare had ceased (Nov. 21 1918), became effective on July 1 1919. The production of beer, except “near-beer,” had been stopped at the beginning of the year as a food conservation measure, but even after wartime prohibition became effective, 2.75% beer was manufactured in some states on the assumption that it was a non-intoxicating liquor, and because Congress had not yet defined the quantity of alcohol a beverage might contain without coming within the meaning of the word “intoxicating,” as used in the various laws, regulations and administrative orders. Rhode Island for example, enacted a state law declaring all liquors of less than 4% alcohol to be non-intoxicating.
The questions thus raised, together with the definitions of the Volstead Act declaring all liquors containing one-half of 1% of alcohol or more to be intoxicating and hence prohibited, were taken to the Supreme Court, which finally sustained both the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act's definition of intoxicating liquor, in two cases (Hawke v. Smith and Rhode Island v. Palmer, 253 U.S.) in which decision was rendered June 12 1920. The Court had previously sustained the War Prohibition Act and the one-half of 1% limit which it specified; but the liquor interests and the liquor-consuming public hoped that greater latitude would be given them by a narrower construction of the first section of the Eighteenth Amendment, which prohibited only intoxicating liquors, and therefore, it was argued, did not warrant legislation forbidding the sale and manufacture of any liquor which was, in fact, non-intoxicating, whether it contained more or less than one-half of 1% of alcohol. The Court, however, without stating or discussing this contention, cited the war prohibition cases in support of the conclusion that while “recognizing that there are limits beyond which Congress cannot go in treating beverages as within its power of enforcement, we think those limits are not transcended by the provision of the Volstead Act.”
The Volstead Act provided for drastic enforcement, and arms the Government, through the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, with ample powers to punish and suppress any evasion. The regulations under this Act governing physicians' prescriptions and the procuring of wine for sacramental purposes are also drastic.
The Act supplementary to the National Prohibition Act approved Nov. 23 1921 contains still more strict enforcement provisions. It forbids physicians to prescribe for medicinal purposes other than spirituous and vinous liquor, and no physician may prescribe or any person sell or furnish on prescription any vinous liquor that contains more than 24% of alcohol by volume and not more than a quarter gallon or any quantity of such liquor containing more than one pint of alcohol for the use of any person within a period of ten days. This may seem to be an unnecessary and unwarranted interference with medical science, but it indicates that no power was likely to be refused that the administration authorities might find necessary to make enforcement effective. Other provisions giving the enforcing authorities control over importations for non-beverage purposes make it clear that both this Act and the National Prohibition Act apply to all territory subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and specifically continue in force all laws in regard to the manufacture and taxation of and traffic in intoxicating liquor and their several penalties as in force when the National Prohibition Act was enacted. Although the effectiveness and justice of these provisions cannot be accurately judged at present, they at least assisted materially towards enforcing national prohibition.
The question of the meaning of “concurrent power” to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment was also settled by the Supreme Court in Hawke v. Smith, in which the Supreme Court held that the provision of the Amendment in this connexion was within the amending power, was a part of the Constitution and “must be respected and given effect the same as other provisions of that instrument,” was “operative throughout the entire territorial limits of the United States” and “of its own force invalidates every legislative act, whether by Congress, by a State Legislature, or by a Territorial Assembly, which authorizes or sanctions what the section forbids.” The second section of the Amendment declared that “the Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” The Supreme Court said that this “does not enable Congress or the several states to defeat or thwart the prohibition, but only to enforce it by appropriate legislation. The words ‘concurrent power,’ in that section, do not mean joint power, or require that legislation thereunder by Congress to be effective shall be approved or sanctioned by the several states or any of them; nor do they mean that the power to enforce is divided between Congress and the several states along the lines which separate or distinguish foreign and interstate commerce from intrastate affairs. The power confided to Congress by that section, while not exclusive, is territorially coextensive with the prohibition of the first section, embraces manufacture and other intrastate transactions as well as importation, exportation and interstate traffic, and is in no wise dependent on or affected by any action or inaction on the part of the several states or any of them.” The prohibitionists could scarcely have hoped for a more sweeping endorsement, and the decision may be fairly considered further evidence of the widespread popular desire for effective national prohibition.
State Action.—Statewide prohibition had existed in 1910 in only nine states—one of them in New England (Maine); three in the middle-west (North Dakota, Kansas and Oklahoma); and five in the south (North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee). Not till 1914 did any greater tendency to statewide prohibition show itself, with the exception of an amendment of the state Constitution of West Virginia in 1912. But during the five years 1914-9 half the states adopted state-wide prohibition, and these represented every section of the country, although they did not include some of the most populous states with large urban centres. In 1914 statewide prohibition was adopted by Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, Washington; in 1915 by Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina; in 1916 by Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota; in 1917 by the District of Columbia, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico; in 1918 by Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Utah; in 1919 by Kentucky and Texas.
From 1910 to 1914, and in lesser degree until 1920, there was meanwhile a continued struggle as to local option in states where statewide prohibition was not adopted with considerable fluctuation in the proportion of dry and wet areas or counties or towns, as the case might be, within the several states, and sometimes with the further fluctuation that the same area became dry at one election and wet at the next. Local option seems to have had its first trial in the United States in Indiana as early as 1832; when in 1881 Massachusetts adopted local option after extensive experiment with prohibition and ordinary forms of licence, that state became a model for other states in its local option law; local option in 1910 prevailed in 33 states. In Pennsylvania, where the licences were granted by the courts of quarter sessions and the judges elected by the people, local option virtually obtained, because elections of judges often turned on the question of whether or not licences should be granted in a given community; and in New Jersey some communities, by reason of the provisions of special municipal charters, enjoyed the privilege of local option. It was estimated in 1910 that the extent of the dry areas of the United States was to that of the wet areas approximately as seven is to five. The total pop., however, living in dry areas was approximately 41,500,000 to 46,000,000 in the wet areas.
Outside prohibition areas and local option areas there remained little territory in 1910 under other forms of licence or regulation, the most notable exception being the dispensary system in South Carolina, which was still in operation, however, in only six counties out of 22 that previously had state dispensaries; besides these there were 32 counties dry under local option.
Experiments with local option provided valuable tests of the spread of prohibition sentiment. A writer in the National Municipal Review for Oct. 1916, dealing with local option in the United States, stated that at that time 80% of the land area of the United States was under prohibition, affecting 54% of the pop. of the country; in other words that more than one-half of the pop. of the United States, spread over four-fifths of its area, was without licensed supply of intoxicants. In the 26 local option states the percentage of area made dry in that year by local legislation ranged from 18% in Rhode Island to 98.3% in Wyoming, with a median percentage of 78.5. Only three of those states had less than half their area under no licence; seven between one-third and three-fourths, and 16 more than three-fourths. Therefore, said this writer, “with 19 states wholly dry, 16 states more than three-fourths dry and 7 states more than half dry, it would appear from the map that national prohibition requiring the consent of 36 states is not far off.”
Liquor Consumption.—Too much importance is often attached to actual statistics of the consumption of liquor as an evidence of the success or failure of local option, and of restriction or prohibition of manufacture and sale. They are by no means conclusive, and especially have slight bearing on the important question, involved in most local option and prohibition enactments, concerning the nature, character and number of saloons and places where intoxicating beverages are sold and consumed. The annexed official figures from the United States Statistical Abstract for 1920 give statistics for the consumption per capita of distilled spirits, wines and malt liquors for beverage purposes, from 1850 to 1920.
United States Annual Consumption per capita of Distilled Spirits, Wines, and Malt Liquors, 1850 to 1920; in gallons.
| Year ended
| All Liquors |
*Average for the period.
Influences Behind Prohibition.—The facts and figures already set forth should help to indicate what were the influences which brought together the local, state and national forces, and led to the adoption of national prohibition in 1920, as well as to its virtual enforcement as a war measure July 1 1919, throughout the area of the United States and the territory subject to its jurisdiction. The movement was not to be ascribed, as some publicists have seemed inclined to believe, to a state of exaltation induced by the war. Neither was it due to the absence of many male voters engaged in military service and perhaps not able to make their opinions effective in the matter. Prohibition had its roots and causes outside of and far antedating these sentiments and experiences. The continuously rising standard of living of the masses in both urban and rural communities from 1910 to 1918 had much influence. The industrial demands for efficiency, and the growth of scientific knowledge about its requirements, had an important and increasing effect. Americans of all classes in increasing numbers perceived that, quite irrespective of their personal habits or desires with respect to the consumption of alcohol, they could not secure the advantages of abstinence, or of moderate and perhaps harmless consumption, on the part of the weaker and more numerous members of any community, unless they themselves were willing to forgo the liberty of personal consumption, even though they belonged to the minority whose efficiency might not in any case be seriously impaired. Enlightened opinion was also shown in the increasing regard for public health, and the measures which the nation as a whole, and the public authorities in most of its component divisions, were taking to promote it. The physiological effect of small doses of alcohol on physical strength and on mental processes had been studied by scientists for many years; and the activities of the leading life-insurance companies, during the decade here under review, in the dissemination of information with respect to personal and public hygiene, had also exerted a considerable influence upon the movement. The published statements of the life-insurance companies, analysing their mortality experience, have generally been regarded as unbiassed, but have not been unchallenged or free from conflicting interpretation. Their conclusions, however, steadily served to support the total abstinence arguments as to industrial efficiency and public health, and they were widely circulated by many of the companies in such a way as to exert an effective educational influence. Mr. Arthur Hunter, actuary of the New York Life Insurance Co., in a paper read before the National Conference of Charities and Correction in Indianapolis in 1916, presented a survey of this material in which he claimed that the American statistics, many of which were then only recently available in published form, corroborated the English data in indicating that total abstinence decidedly increased longevity. He said, “the experience of the seven American life insurance companies (and one Canadian company whose records had been studied) has proved that abstainers have from 10% to 30% lower mortality than non-abstainers, and there is no good reason for believing that if the other companies compiled their statistics there would be any different result, providing the companies exercised the same care in accepting abstainers and non-abstainers.”
Lastly, and of as much weight, it would seem, as all the other reasons combined, there was among all classes a growing hostility to the liquor saloon, as a mischievous agency, largely controlled and dominated by anti-social influences, and by persons and corporations actuated by a strong motive of private profit. Furthermore, the liquor saloon was gaining a power in politics, and a control of matters affecting the social life and general welfare of the people, which made its growth disproportionate to that of any other social institution in the country. The public perceived the increasing political influence of the saloon, and the failure everywhere of the various experiments to develop a substitute for it, or, indeed, to organize any other successful centre of recreation, social intercourse and community life, in competition with saloons supported and controlled by the profits of the liquor industry. A formidable body of public opinion united many persons who were neither total abstainers nor wholly convinced by the economic efficiency and health arguments against alcohol. Nevertheless they were sure that drastic measures were necessary, even if they involved heavy personal sacrifice on the part of many persons, to rid the communities in which they resided, as well as those in which they did business, of the baneful results and by-products of the saloon. Thus many who never would have voted for state prohibition, and who were even disappointed with the general outcome of local option, were prepared, when the issue was presented, to support and defend national prohibition.
Results.—Various efforts were made between Jan. 1920 and the autumn of 1921 to appraise the economic results and the effectiveness of the enforcement of national prohibition. But there had not yet been time to get accurate and convincing statistics or to know how to make allowance for purely accidental factors. Adjustment to the new conditions was still going on, and the existence of old stocks of liquor and wine introduced an inevitable complication. In the case of war prohibition there was a tolerated delay of 7½ months, which the Supreme Court, in its decision upholding the war prohibition enactment, practically stated was a reasonable period, in lieu of compensation, to enable liquor dealers to dispose of liquors on hand. It was still necessary in the autumn of 1921 to depend largely upon the judgment of trained observers, who could be trusted to interpret partial but significant statistics. Of local and partial data there was no lack. The Survey for Jan. 17 1920, speaking of six months of the enforcement of war prohibition, said: “Thus the fact of national prohibition comes to pass without any of the dire disasters predicted—great bodies of men are not jobless; the breweries are not idle, but have turned to the making of soft drinks and ice cream; labor has not refused to work without beer. . . ; real-estate values have not slumped; in fact, the rentals charged to cigar stores, soda fountains, lunch counters, groceries and such like which are moving into the vacant saloons with all possible speed, are higher than they were; there has not been a reign of terror by outraged men demanding the return of their personal liberty.” Another study made by The Survey and published Nov. 6 1920, of the city of Grand Rapids, Mich. (located in a state under constitutional prohibition since 1916), says that Grand Rapids in 1920 was practically free from drunkenness if not from drink; prohibition had all but emptied the county gaol; the county farm had run down for lack of prison labour; the police force had been greatly reduced; the withdrawal of liquor from dance and social halls had closed prolific sources of immorality and crime; and the number of arrests in two years had been cut in half.
A study under the direction of the Federal Council of Churches was made by the head of a social settlement in Buffalo, who visited eight cities, including three of the largest—New York, Philadelphia and Chicago—and the smaller cities of Washington, Harrisburg, Columbus, Detroit and Buffalo, examining the police returns, hospital returns, reports of lodging houses, charitable and community organizations, during the month of April 1920. Most of his material is from official sources and shows a decrease in the number of arrests in cities far apart, which cannot be explained by the operation of the usual causes of fluctuation. Apparently prohibition was the only factor common to all of these returns and operating upon them alike. Other reports, from many sources, of similar character show that throughout 1920 arrests for drunkenness and for all crimes in the principal cities diminished. In Philadelphia the total for the dry six months of 1919 compared with the wet six months of that year showed a decrease of 40% (47,000 to 28,530), and the chief resident physician of the Philadelphia General Hospital stated that there had been no increase in the use of drugs since prohibition.
Fifty-nine cities of the United States having a pop. of 30,000 or over and a combined pop. of over 20,000,000 (including New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) give the following official figures for arrests for drunkenness in the four successive years 1917-20: 316,842, 260,169, 172,659 and 109,768. Indiana shows 70% fewer arrests in 1920 for drunkenness than in 1917, the last year when the state was wet, for 39 cities with a combined pop. of nearly one million. Boston reports 5,000 fewer arrests in 1920 for all causes than for drunkenness alone in 1919; the state of Massachusetts reports 32,580 arrests for drunkenness in 1920 compared with 77,925 in 1919; Connecticut had 943 arrests for drunkenness in 1920 against 3,777 in 1919; New York City a decrease from 14,182 in 1917 to 5,813 in 1920; St. Louis a decrease from 2,605 in 1919 to 691 in 1920. A similar tendency in many cities is apparent in the returns for 1920.
Since prohibition, high wages and continuous employment came together during the year July 1 1919 to June 30 1920, it is difficult to state with certainty which of the three was the cause, or the major cause, of the increase in savings bank accounts, or of the decrease in industrial accidents reported during that period. An official statement of the Comptroller of the Currency given out in Washington Jan. 22 1920 stated that in national banks alone 880,949 new accounts were opened in the first 4½ months of the fiscal year beginning July 1 1919, and that the increase in the number of depositors in state and private banks, though not available, was known to be far greater than the increase of depositors in national banks. The Comptroller's official report (48th Annual Report) for the year ended Oct. 31 1920 states: “In the number of depositors or deposit accounts in national banks all previous records were exceeded, official reports showing that on June 30 1920 there were 20,520,177 deposit accounts in all national banks. This was an increase of 2,279,877 (12½%) over June 30 1919. There is now approximately one depositor in the national banks for every five of our population.”
The most disinterested and intelligent observers, accustomed to judging public conditions and social facts, differed widely in their verdicts on prohibition, its economic results and general benefits or disadvantages to the public welfare in the first year of national prohibition. That is likely to be true for several years to come. The more authoritative opinion, however, seemed to be that the first effects had been generally beneficial; that the popular sentiment in support of effective prohibition was gaining in strength, and that the experiment would be continued and developed. The fears of lurking danger to social institutions or to the moral integrity of the people (which some critics believed to be inherent in prohibition), seemed likely to be outweighed by the economic and political advantages of freedom from the saloon, and the semblance, at least, of more orderly communities, less petty crime and less abject poverty. The majority of moderate drinkers seemed to be willing to sacrifice their personal liberty for these desirable results. The intemperate constitute a minority as compared with the total abstainers plus a majority of those who had been moderate users of intoxicating beverages, and their number may be expected to diminish from year to year. The business interests which were thought to be menaced by prohibition found, at the time when national and wartime prohibition went into effect, means of readjustment without great loss and without inflicting on the nation the burden of any scheme of compensation. The outlook for the future was in 1921 one of hope that new forces and new funds had now been released, which might be directed to providing normal recreation and facilities for social and community life which the saloon did not provide, but for which its very existence had precluded other provision being made.
U.S. War-emergency Measures.—After the entry of the United States into the World War, Federal legislation began with the Draft law of May 18 1917, Section 12 of which authorized the President to make regulations for the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors in or near military camps and to officers and enlisted men of the army. An Act to promote the efficiency of the U.S. navy, approved Oct. 6 1917, extended these provisions to include the navy and all places for training and mobilization connected with the naval service. This section made it unlawful to sell or supply intoxicating liquors to any military or naval station, cantonment, camp, fort, or officers' or enlisted men's club, or to sell intoxicating liquor, including beer, ale or wine, to any officer or member of the military force while in uniform. The Food Control Act of Aug. 10 1917 prohibited the use of foods, fruits or food materials in the production of distilled spirits for beverage purposes, but authorized the President to prescribe rules for their use in the production of distilled spirits for other purposes. It provided also that distilled spirits should not be imported into the United States, and that whenever the President should find that limitation, regulation or prohibition of the use of foods, fruits or food materials in making malt or vinous liquors for beverage purposes, or that the reduction of the alcoholic content of such liquors is essential for food conservation, he should be authorized to prescribe and give public notice of such limitation, prohibition or reduction as might be necessary. This Act also authorized the President to commandeer and pay for distilled spirits needed for the manufacture of munitions or military supplies.
The so-called War Prohibition Act, enacted Nov. 21 1918, 10 days after the signing of the Armistice, was an amendment to the Agricultural Appropriation Bill, and provided that from June 30 1919 until the conclusion of the war and of demobilization, the date to be determined and proclaimed by the President, it should be unlawful to sell for beverage purpose any distilled spirits or to withdraw distilled spirits from bond except for export. It also provided that after May 1 1919 no grains, cereals, fruit or other food products should be used in the manufacture or production of beer, wine or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquor for beverage purposes, and after June 30 1919 no beer, wine or other intoxicating malt or vinous liquor should be sold for beverage purposes except for export, until the conclusion of the war and of demobilization, the date to be determined by the President. This Act also prohibited the importation, from the date of its approval until the period of its termination, of distilled malt, vinous or other intoxicating liquors. The President was further authorized by the Act to establish zones about coal mines, munition factories, shipbuilding plants or wherever necessary to facilitate war work, in which strict prohibition should be made effective under heavy penalties. This Act continued in force until national prohibition came into force by reason of the refusal of the President to declare demobilization to have been completed before that date, and the section of the Act authorizing the President to establish special zones as above described was incorporated from a joint resolution of Congress, having the force of law from the earlier date of Sept. 12 1918.
The Prohibition Enforcement Law or Volstead Act, enacted Oct. 28 1919, three months before national prohibition came into effect, provided for the enforcement of both the War Prohibition Act and the Eighteenth Amendment. The President exercised the powers conferred on him under the Food Control Act of Aug. 10 1917, and under it the manufacture of distilled spirits in the United States was prohibited on and after Sept. 8 1917. Through the Food Administration the President also stopped the use of food materials in the manufacture of beer on Dec. 1 1918. All these measures were strictly enforced and achieved their major purposes by securing conservation and the maintenance of discipline and sobriety in all places where men in uniform were stationed. They did not affect the civilian population because of the short period of prohibition of manufacture, and because of the existing stocks in territory where local or state legislation permitted its sale. No state legislation was necessary to carry out the purposes of the special war period restrictions.