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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 17.djvu/626

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FBOHIBITION QIQ PBOHIBITION

tions see below under Europe, It, therefore^ merits local option appealed to the sense of liberty and

most attention, though its efforts in that direction local pride of a small political unit, which could

will be seen in clearer relief, if we describe also the not be expected to be farsighted enough to foresee

less drastic efforts of other countries, to solve the that local option was only the means whereby to

drink problem. attain imiversal Prohibition, as subsequent events

(1) The United States, — Prohibition as above have amply proved, for surely, no Rx)hibitioni8t defined, i. e., a forbidding of liquor by force of would now advocate local option, but rather bit- civil law, mav be said to have come into being terly oppose it.

about the middle of the nineteenth century. Before The prohibition movement, so skillfully directed, that moral suasion had been the only agent used in found an indirect ally in the very political spirit combating the increasing evils of drinking. But in of the early years of the present century. Radical- the year 1850 the State of Maine appealed to the ism was rampant in politics. New political pan- new method of force by formally passing a state- aceas were the visionary cure-alls. A sort of wide prohibition law. This can be said to be the fanaticism was in the very air. That this helped beginning of the idea that the civil law was the the "dry" forces is evident from the fact of the best a^ent to stop drunkenness : it was the birth of prevalence of radicalism in the Southern and Prohibition as such. The idea spread with surpris- Western States which have been the mainstay of ing rapidity and by 1860 twelve States had followed Prohibition in its later stage. At all events, the the example of Maine, among them some like Anti-Saloon League made an amazing progress. Rhode Island and New York, which are now bit- From the local county or township it spread to the terly opposed to Prohibition. By 1890 others had State, until finally it had enough States in line to joined, bringing the total up to seventeen. This force through the Constitutional Amendment. The first stage of the movement proved, however, to be progress was so swift that the people were taken by only a sort of preliminary skirmish. ' surprise. The fact was accomplished when many

For some ten years or so a hopeless fight was even yet deluded themselves into thinking that it

carried on by the National Prohibition Party at could not happen.

the customary elections, but some dozen years ago. The peculiar method of passing Constitutional a new and powerful factor began to make itself amendments favored the "drys." By this method felt in the advent of the Anti-Saloon League, to an amendment must be submitted not to a popu- the unremitting efforts of which is now due Consti- lar vote but to the Legislatures of the various tutional Prohibition in the United States. This States. This ^ave the Anti-Saloon League the ad- body was from tiie start skillfully organized, bold vantage of bringing the familiar pressure to bear to the point of unscrupulousness in its political upon individual legislators, with the result that methods and apparently enormously financed. With some Legislatures voted in direct defiance of the clear-headed intelligence it concentrated its attack well-known wishes of the people. In Maryland, upon what even those opposed to Prohibition for instance, the Legislature ratified the amend- recognized and still recognize as the undefensible ment notwithstanding the fact that only shortly element of the liquor question, namely, the saloon, before the State had gone wet. The most extreme

The old ale-house or road-house, with whatever Prohibitionist will admit that had the amendment

abuses, was after all a rather decent affair, cele- been submitted to a popular vote throughout the

brated in song and interwoven with much romance United States the issue would have been at least

and venerable tradition, but the saloon which took doubtful. The passing of it by the Legislatures,

its place in American life was seldom respectable therefore, cannot be taken as an adequate ex-

and only too often a nest for the lowest elements pression of the will of the people,

in our social and political life. With rare intelli- As to the effect so far of Prohibition, it is bard

gence, then, this new foe of drink concentrated its to judge. In so far as it has eliminated the old

attacks upon it exclusively, thereby bringing to its saloon, or at least made the return of the old

aid all those decent people who, even though drink- saloon impossible so far as public recognition goes,

ers themselves, could not countenance such a social it has done good. But, when that is said, any other

cancer. alleged benefits are at best doubtful. Undoubt-

With equal intelligence, though unfortunately edly crime has increased. Of course, this may be not altogether honest, the Anti-Saloon League equallv due to the lowering of moral standards made an emotional appeal to what it called "the brought on by the great War. ' But, it is significant, church, the church being, however at most a to say the least, that the great moral regeneration certain radical element of Evangelistic Protestant- predicted by the Prohibitionists has not material- ism, chiefly Methodists, who have always been ized. Equally difficult is it to estimate whether or opposed to many forms of amusement enjoyed by not drinking has decreased. Certainly in the lai^ge other Christians. So powerful was this ally that it centres it has not, the hospitals in these cities is not too much to say that this religious body was showing frequently an increase of alcoholic patients, more responsible than any other factor in bringing Moreover, millions are making home wines and about Prohibition. Lastly, the Anti-Saloon League beer who before perhaps never or seldom drank, with consummate skill engineered a political cam- and the mere fact that the last Congress was asked at small local political units, especially in country by the Prohibition forces for spme ten million paign which has no equal in American politics. At dollars wherewith to suppress illicit liquor traffic is first neglectful of national politics, it prepared the sufficient proof that the amendment is violated as way to enter the national field by niobling away much as it is observed.

districts, where heavier pressure could be brought Perhaps the most serious result of it all lies in

to bear upon the individual politician or office- the feeling of resentment created by it and the

seeker, particularly where that pressure could be startling impetus it has given to the invasion of

applied through the medium of religious or social personal liberties by the State. The resentment

ostracism. Moreover, the small country unit of- shows itself in a contempt not only for the Consti-

fered a more fertile field for an appeal to senti- tution itself but for all law as law, for law is being

mentality and fanaticism than could be found in more and more regarded as a tyrant, whereas the

the more liberal city life. Such a campaign was handing over to the Federal Government of the

all the more subtle inasmuch as its demands for police powers of the individual States would seem