By Kevin C. Murphy, Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Culture and Consumption
Progressives and the
Culture of the Twenties
VIII. The Empire and
Although in many ways a reaction to the new culture of modernity, the Klan also had its own debts to modern life. For one, this iteration of the Klan arose out of a deliberate attempt to mobilize public opinion through the cinema. In 1915, D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation -- based on Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman -- heralded a new era in filmmaking. But it also presented to America a now-embarrassing whitewash of post-Civil War history in which the original, Reconstruction-era Klan fought to defend such virtues as honor and chastity from the rapine of marauding Yankees and bestial African-Americans. "The real purpose of my film was to revolutionize northern sentiment by presentation of history," Dixon declared. "Every man who comes out of our theaters is a Southern partisan for life."1
Well, not every man. "If history bore no relation to life, this motion picture could well be reviewed and applauded as a spectacle," wrote Francis Hackett in The New Republic. But, as it is, the film "recklessly distorts negro crimes, gives them a disproportionate place in life, and colors them dishonestly to inflame the ignorant and the credulous." In short, he argued, "this film is aggressively vicious and defamatory. It is spiritual assassination. It degrades the censors that passed it and the white race that endures it." On the other hand, Woodrow Wilson, who knew Dixon from his days at John Hopkins, was among the credulous. "It's like writing history with lightning," he proclaimed after a White House viewing. "My only regret is that it is all so terribly true."2
Also a fan of the film was one William Joseph Simmons, who, just before the film's Atlanta premiere, ascended nearby Stone Mountain -- already earmarked to be the site of a confederate Civil War memorial. (It would not be completed until 1972.) There, with a burning cross and a bible open to Romans 12:1 ("I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service"), he declared the Klan reborn.3
Its Atlanta roots notwithstanding, this Klan was not the southern-dominated movement its predecessor had been, nor was its primary focus on policing African-Americans to respect white authority. At its height in 1923 and 1924 -- before the 1925 conviction of a Klan higher-up on charges of rape and murder sent membership into a death spiral -- the organization boasted three million members and perhaps considerably more -- estimates range from 4.5 million to as many as eight million. By then, its reach extended throughout the Midwest to the Northwest and even into the heart of the enemy, New York City. The most potent Klan strongholds were Indiana and Ohio, with Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Oregon, and the inland empire of California all under its sway as well. Many of these regions had very few African-Americans for local whites to be railing against.4
In fact, the Klan did not develop organically as a social protest movement. It was, in short, a pyramid scheme. Its founder, Simmons, was a member of the Woodsmen of the World (and a "Colonel" in that organization, and no other) who had always wanted to bring back his father's "fraternal order." So, in order to build membership for his revitalized Klan, Simmons outsourced his organization-building to the auspices of the Southern Publicity Association. Together, they came up with a scheme whereby joining the Klan cost a member ten dollars -- two of which went to Simmons, four of which went to the SPA, and four of which to whomever had managed to recruit the new member into the ranks of the Invisible Empire.5
These recruiters -- given the name "kleagles" -- had every incentive to drum up new membership. This they did at first by farming existing networks of fraternal orders, such as the Masons and Elks, to enlist in the new cause, often setting up screenings of Birth of a Nation to help seal the deal. They also appealed to more recent violence, such as the 1915 lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank for the alleged rape of his employee, Mary Phagan, and the prospect of a race war after the 1921 Tulsa riots. Soon thereafter, men began flocking to the organization. In early 1920, the Klan went from a few thousand members to 100,000 in a matter of months. "In all my years of experience in organization work," one SPA member told Colonel Simmons, "I have never seen anything equal to the clamor throughout the nation for the Klan."6
It likely helped membership that, rather than being a terrorist organization that conducted raids on its prey at night, the Klan of the 1920s was mostly the type of humdrum fraternal order that George Babbitt would not have felt out of place in, and for all the venom the organization directed against Catholics, immigrants, and Wets, its members' hoods were often more closely akin to a Shriner's fez. Unlike its earlier and later incarnations, this Klan held family picnics, conducted parades, and did good works in the community, from collecting donations for the poor to policing their own membership for drunks and deserters. They even sponsored such offshoots as the Women of the Ku Klux Klan, the Junior Ku Klux Klan (for teenage boys), the Tri-K Girls (for teenage girls), and the Ku Klux Kiddies.7
In other words, the Klan was primarily a community organization -- albeit one with a profound loathing for Catholics, immigrants, and drinkers -- and its goal was ostensibly one of preserving the status quo from the forces of change. "Nordic Americans," wrote Imperial Wizard Hiram Wesley Evans in 1926, "for the last generation have found themselves increasingly uncomfortable and finally deeply distressed." They had experienced "first confusion in thought and opinion, a groping hesitancy about national affairs and private life alike," followed by "futility in religion" and a "moral breakdown…One by one all our traditional moral standards went by the boards, or were so disregarded that they ceased to be binding. The sacredness of our Sabbath, of our homes, of chastity, and finally even of our right to teach our children in our own schools fundamental facts and truths were torn away from us."8
The Klan, Evans argued, merely wanted to restore the balance. "[T]he Nordic American today," he continued, "is a stranger in large parts of the land his fathers gave him":
Our falling birth rate, the result of all this, is proof of our distress. We no longer feel that we can be fair to children we bring into the world, unless we can make sure from the start that they shall have capital or education or both, so that they never need compete with those who now fill the lower rungs of the ladder of success. We no longer dare risk letting our youth 'make its own way' in the conditions under which we live…"This is undoubtedly a weakness," Evans said, "It lays us open to the charge of being 'hicks' and 'rubes' and 'drivers of second hand Fords.' We admit it…Every popular movement has suffered from just this handicap, yet the popular movements have been the mainsprings of progress, and have usually had to win against the 'best people' of their time." One former WKKK member from Indiana interviewed by historian Kathleen Blee concurred with the contours of Evans' argument. "All the better people" were in the Klan, she told Blee. "Store owners, teachers, farmers…the good people all belonged to the Klan…They were going to clean up government, and they were going to improve the school books…loaded with Catholicism. The pope was dictating what was being taught to the children, and therefore they were being impressed with the wrong things." While in many ways a reaction to the candidacy of Al Smith, the Klan's full-throated support of Wilson progressive William McAdoo in 1924, instead of, say, a more conservative candidate like Samuel Ralston of Indiana, suggests that the Klan didn't think of themselves as reactionaries, but, as Evans said, one of the "mainsprings of progress."10
It is for this reason that some progressives were wary of attacking the Klan's fundamental purpose. Wasn't this the type of reform movement many progressives had been calling for? While the editors of TNR argued in 1923 that the Klan was exceedingly dangerous because it operated in secret and was thus liable to move outside the law -- "[t]here is no room for the secret political society in a civilized state" -- they also conceded that "[t]he motives that lead men to attach themselves to the Klan are simple, and in the vast majority of cases, we believe honorable." (In 1921, they had been less charitable of the group's "Kludds, its Klokards, and its Kleagles," but still deemed the organization "feeble-minded…rather than evil-minded.") "It is easy to laugh at the absurdities of the Klan, its childish follies, its illiterate nomenclature, its fallacious conception of law and order," wrote Edward Devine in The Survey in 1922. "But it is not easily laughed out of existence. Close at hand it is serious. It has a certain dignity of purpose. It is not sheer bigotry or stupidity or charlatanry or fraud." Reporting on the organization a week later from a different Texas town, Devine, while harboring "no desire to whitewash its white robes," found "more anti-Catholic sentiment…that appeared to be the case in the first community studied" but not much to suggest the "Ku Klux movement hereabouts is…conspicuously anti-Negro. The few Negroes with whom I have had an opportunity to talk are not greatly disturbed by it so far as the security of their own people is concerned."11
Devine's dispatches prompted a flurry of disbelieving letters to The Survey. The Klan's constitution, noted the president of Atlanta University, Edward Ware, specifically called for the maintenance of white supremacy. "And yet Mr. Devine gains the impression that the Ku Klux movement 'is not conspicuously anti-Negro.' Probably the Klan is not against the Negro who…meekly submits to any limitation the dominant race chooses to impose. But how about the intelligent, progressive, self-respecting Negro of independent spirit, the man who has ambitions and aspirations for himself and for his people? I think we can safely say that there will not be much love wasted between that man and the Ku Klux Klan." The Klan was "an institution of prejudice," Ware concluded. "It glories the past and attempts to establish by ritual and ceremony and unquestioning devotion to the institutions and customs of the past." Like the movement against evolution in the schools, it was "symptomatic of a deadening conservatism which is the worst enemy of progress."12
Another writer -- "A Texan" -- was even less charitable about Devine's "semi-apologetic articles." "His conclusions are like the man who never saw France except when the steamer came close enough to the shore of Brittany where he saw red trousered men and women with uptucked skirts washing clothes. His description thereafter of France was that it was a country where all men wore red pants and all the women tucked up their skirts." On the ground, this writer argued, the Klan looked quite different. "As a fomenter of private hatreds; as a feeder of the flames of religious prejudice, as a breeder of suspicion between friends and neighbors; as a creator of dangerous secret political corruption; as a destroyer of community solidarity; as a fomenter of strife and conflict at a time when our national life is at stake, the Ku Klux Klan is a menace so terrible that I cannot conceive how Mr. Devine should even damn it with faint praise." It had "sowed dragon's teeth - and monsters are already springing up where they sowed."13
Of course, there were many other progressives, many of whom had stood with Al Smith or Robert La Follette in the 1924 election, who stood vociferously against the Klan -- Judge Ben Lindsey staged a lonely war against Klan control of Colorado and Harold Ickes even got himself into a fistfight at a Klan parade. Well before the organization began to grow exponentially in the Harding era, W.E.B. DuBois and the NAACP had sounded the tocsin that the Klan had risen again and urged the Justice Department to look into the organization. But, even in opposition, progressives had to contend with its strange and dismaying popularity. "To make a case against a birthplace, a religion, or a race is wickedly un-American and cowardly," William Allen White wrote in 1921, deeming the Klan "a cheap screw outfit." But he still saw the Klan sweep across his beloved Kansas with a gale force, and, when both major-party candidates for Governor in 1924 received Klan backing, he decided to run himself on an anti-Klan protest ticket. Ultimately, White garnered 150,000 votes and placed third, and was reasonably satisfied with that result. "The way the Catholics and Jews and colored people were persecuted by the Klan in Kansas was a dirty shame, and I couldn't rest under it," he told one friend after election day. "I put on my war paint and feathers and went out."14
But as White told Oswald Villard when the votes were in, even among natural constituents of Robert La Follette, the Imperial Empire had exerted a greater pull on Kansas laborers than the progressive hero of Wisconsin. "If I had come out for La Follette, I would have lost half of my strength," White wrote. "Here was a funny thing: labor in the Middle West is shot through with the Ku Klux Klan. It voted for Coolidge, a lot of it, because Coolidge was right on the Pope. I didn't get much of it because I was wrong on the Pope. And LaFollette lost about forty per cent of his normal vote because of the Klan." The Socialists, meanwhile, were coming to a similar dismal conclusion. In the Socialist World of December 1923, August Claessens, formerly one of the five New York state representatives expelled on account of his party, lamented the ascendance of the Klan even as parties of the left continually struggled through. All their life Socialists had been waiting for a popular reform movement to spring up organically from the people, and when it did, it came with white hoods and breathless conspiracies involving the insidious reach of Catholicism.15
Even as progressives witnessed the Klan proliferate throughout the country, they also had to contend with the seeming collapse of what Calvin Coolidge called the "greatest social experiment of modern times": Prohibition. "To hold the Progressives responsible for Prohibition would be to do them an injustice," historian Richard Hofstadter wrote in an oft-cited passage of The Age of Reform, since "men of an urbane cast of mind, whether conservatives or Progressives in their politics, had been generally antagonistic, or at the very least suspicious of the pre-War drive toward Prohibition." Passed along country roads by the "rural-evangelical virus," Hofstadter wrote in a line that has stuck, "Prohibition, in the Twenties, was the skeleton at the feast, a grim reminder of the moral frenzy that so many wished to forget, a ludicrous caricature of the reforming impulse, of the Yankee-Protestant notion that it is both possible and desirable to moralize private life through public action."16
This is a simplification -- Prohibition numbered among its advocates plenty of urban social reformers and settlement house workers, while Senator Oscar Underwood was by no means the only Wet below the Mason-Dixon line -- but there is considerable truth in it. As a speaker at the 1915 Anti-Saloon League convention put it in a telling remark, the "pure stream of country sentiment and township morals" that Prohibition embodied was needed to "flush out the cesspools of cities." "The saloon will take the shirt from the back of a shivering man," evangelist Billy Sunday had exhorted his followers. "It will take the coffin from under the dead. It will take the milk from the breast of the poor mother who is the wife of a drinking man. It will take the crust of bread from the hand of the hungry child. It cares for nothing but itself - for its dirty profits. It will keep your boy out of college. It will make your daughter a prostitute. It will bury your wife in the potter's field. It will send you to hell."17
It is also true, however, as historian James Timberlake writes, that "prohibition was actually written into the Constitution as a progressive reform. As an integral part of the Progressive Movement, prohibition drew on the same moral idealism and sought to deal with the same basic problems" -- namely to forge better citizens and eliminate the poverty, abuse, and despair that accompanied overdrinking. As Mark Lender and Edward Martin note in their 1982 history of Drinking in America, "[u]rban Progressives viewed temperance as a means to alleviate poverty and to clean up the political corruption spread through insidious saloons," where machines like Tammany Hall had often worked their magic.18
In any case, as noted in Chapter Three, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect in January 1920, there was a great rejoicing in many corners that, after a century and a half of wrangling with the beast, America had at last turned a corner. Prohibition, boasted the president of Washington and Lee University, was "the longest and most effective step forward in the uplift of the human race ever taken by any civilized nation." But only a year and a half into what Herbert Hoover would later famously deem "the Noble Experiment," huge cracks in the Drywall were showing. And even if it did manage to mitigate drinking in some sectors of society, Prohibition also taught its supporters, progressive and otherwise, a good many hard lessons about the laws of unintended consequences.19
"On paper it was unbeatable," Philadelphia lawyer T. Henry Walnut wrote in The Survey in 1922. "Every drop of the liquor in storage was under lock and key to be released only upon proper authority to proper persons. The manufacture and smuggling of liquor was suppressed and the sale for beverage purposes barred. The most ardent dry could ask no more. The only flaw in the thing was that it didn't work." In an argument that would be expanded on in a 1923 book, Prohibition and its Enforcement, Walnut argued that "within a year there was a general spirit of distrust and a demoralization of enforcement. It was a matter of bewilderment that a dry law could live in surroundings so universally wet…For a year and a half we had this melodrama of lawlessness. There seemed to be no popular support for prohibition."20
The New Republic was inclined to agree. While declaring its support for "the cause known as the Temperance Movement," the editors argued in October 1922 -- less than three years into the Noble Experiment -- that "the immediate question is what is possible, even remotely possible in this direction through prohibition by national law." The ban on alcohol was flagrantly broken everywhere, they argued, and "the people of the United States are now paying the penalty in a vast and wide increase in law breaking and consequent diminution of respect for law." As such, "the present law is a source of weakness and corruption which amount to a national scandal." Touring the country debating the issue with Senator Smith Brookhart, Arthur Garfield Hays would make a similar point. "'I had a drink before I came here," he deadpanned to open his remarks. When this invariably got a laugh, Hays said "That's the trouble with prohibition. As long as I admit that I help a seller break the law and you laugh at it, prohibition can't be enforced."21
This absurdity was inescapable in much of the nation. "[T]he Prohibitionists; the Fathers of Bootlegging," Dorothy Parker wrote in 1922 poem on "Social Reformers, "fixed things all up pretty for us; Now that they have dried up the country, You can hardly get a drink unless you go in and order one." Even in the White House, it seemed, this double standard applied. It was well known that the man in charge of enforcing the Volstead Act, Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, had until very recently held considerable shares of the Overholt Distillery in Pennsylvania. (Mellon liquidated his stock upon taking office.) His colleague in the Justice Department, Harry Daugherty, was eventually found to be profiting through the sale of liquor permits at the Little Green House on K Street. And their boss? While officially Dry in public, Harding's proclivities were also not the best kept secret. "I am not a prohibitionist," candidate Harding had shrugged with his characteristic aw-shucks honesty, "and have never pretended to be. I do claim to be a temperance man. I do not approach this question from a moral viewpoint, because I am unable to see it as a great moral question."22
This popular perception aside, several studies then and now seem to indicate that Prohibition was in fact somewhat successful in curbing drinking. "Death from alcoholism took a terrific tumble in 1920," The Literary Digest averred after Prohibition's first year. Martha Bruere's 1927 study Does Prohibition Work? and Evangeline Booth's 1928 Some Have Stopped Drinking -- two admittedly anecdote-driven inquiries by members of the social work community -- both suggested poverty and violence had gone down in the slums. "All through the American Belt," Bruere's study concluded, "wherever the Americans of the earlier immigrations are still in control, our reports show that prohibition works." Similarly, economists Irving Fisher and Clark Warburton, in 1930's The "Noble Experiment" and 1932's The Economic Results of Prohibition, argued that both alcoholism mortality rates and the amount of money spent on booze by urban workers decreased markedly after 1920. Later studies by historians of cirrhosis deaths and annual alcohol consumption rates seem to support these findings. "These data," write historians Mark Lender and James Martin, "buttress the conclusion that Americans must have been drinking less than ever before during prohibition, probably just under a gallon of absolute alcohol per capita annually."23
Perhaps one of the reasons this relative success went unnoticed is that Wet areas of the country stayed unapologetically Wet, not the least the culture-producing capital of New York City. In Terrible Honesty, her in-depth exploration of the writers, artists, and opinion-makers of 1920s Manhattan, historian Ann Douglas discovered that "almost one-third of my protagonists were alcoholics or problem drinkers; the usual figure for the percentage of alcoholics to non-alcoholics in America is 10 percent." (As Robert Ripley, one of the writers in Douglas' study, was wont to mention, the name of "Manhattan" was possibly derived from the Lenape word Manahachtanienk, meaning "Place of Drunkenness," or where the Delaware Indians -- just before being offered a lousy proposition -- first encountered Dutch alcohol.)24
In fact, rather than preventing drinking in New York and other cities, Prohibition helped to fuel the cultural transformations that so unnerved the prohibitionists. By making criminals of virtually everyone, Prohibition in the neighborhood of Times Square, writes historian George Chauncey in his study Gay New York, "resulted instead in the expansion of the sexual underworld and undermined the ability of the police and anti-vice societies to control it":
The economic pressures Prohibition put on the hotel industry by depriving it of liquor-related profits, for instance, led some of the second-class hotels in the West Forties to begin permitting prostitutes and speakeasies to operate out of their premises. Prohibition also drove many of the district's elegant restaurants, cabarets, and roof gardens out of business, for such establishments had depended even more heavily on liquor sales for their profitability. They were replaced, on the one hand, by cheap cafeterias and restaurants whose profits depended on a high turnover rate rather than a high liquor-based profit margin, and, on the other hand, by nightclubs and speakeasies whose profitability depended wholly on illegal liquor sales.25"Instead of purifying the nation by drawing a strict boundary between the acceptable and the unacceptable," Chauncey concludes, "it threatened to blur those boundaries by encouraging more normally law-abiding citizens to break the law, to regard the police as their enemies, and to question the law's moral authority." The proliferation of speakeasies -- by 1922, there were 5000 in New York; by 1927, over 30,000 -- only accelerated the pace of change. Speakeasies, Chauncey writes, encouraged "middle-class men and women to interact even more casually and to experiment further with the norms governing acceptable public sociability…[They] eroded the boundaries between respectability and criminality, public and private…[and] encouraged behavior that flouted public morality."26
One of the positive aspects of putting everyone on the wrong side of the law, Chauncey notes, was the increased tolerance towards -- and even public fascination with -- gays and lesbians. As with whites' late-night taxis to Harlem, there was an element of the exotic here. "If whites were intrigued by the 'primitivism' of black culture," Chauncey notes, "heterosexuals were equally intrigued by the 'perversity of gay culture.'" And so the drag balls that had arisen in Greenwich Village a decade earlier now became hugely popular, drawing crowds of thousands. "[I]t was fashionable for the intelligentsia and the social leaders of both Harlem and the downtown area," Langston Hughes recalled of one such Uptown ball, "to occupy boxes…and look down from above at the queerly assorted throng on the dancing floor." By the early 1930's, drag balls had even moved into Madison Square Garden and the Astor Hotel. This is emphatically not what the Prohibitionists had intended.27
Nor did they intend the rise of organized crime that followed in the wake of the Noble Experiment. New York, for example, saw the likes of Frank Costello, Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, Jack "Legs" Diamond, Meyer Lansky, and Arnold Rothstein profit mightily from the booming business of bootlegging. Cities in the East and Midwest experienced the growth of similar crime syndicates, from that of Enoch "Nucky" Johnson in Atlantic City to the Purple Gang of Detroit to George Remus in Cinncinnati. On the West Coast, there was less in the way of organized crime as a result of Prohibition, but still a good bit of the unorganized kind.28
At the peak of his power, the most notorious gangster in America, Chicago's Al Capone, employed close to a thousand men and brought in hundreds of millions of dollars a year through prostitution, racketeering, and, of course, the sale of liquor. In the years in which "Public Enemy Number One" consolidated his gangland empire over his rivals, Cook County saw between 350 and 400 murders and around 100 bombings a year -- over the course of the entire Noble Experiment, 800 gangsters were killed in Chicago in shootouts. Among the most notorious of these was the "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" of 1929, in which seven associates of George "Bugs" Moran, the Irish-American who ran Chicago's North Side, were brutally shot and killed by unknown assailants, some of whom were dressed up as police officers. Soon thereafter, President-elect Hoover pledged to add 400 more Prohibition agents and ask Congress for $2.5 million more in funding, the implication being that taking down Capone was a top priority.29
Hoover's investment eventually paid off, thanks to the hard work of Elliot Ness and the "Untouchables." But it also reemphasized how expensive Prohibition turned out to be. The powerful head of the Anti-Saloon League, Wayne Wheeler, had prophesied that enforcement would cost no more than $5 million. In 1921, it in fact cost the federal government $6.35 million, increasing to $8.5 million in 1924, and over $16 million by 1932. As early as 1923, and even under the administration-wide mandate to keep government costs down, Secretary Mellon informed Congress that the Prohibition unit might need as much as $28 million. States, meanwhile -- especially the Wet ones where crime was often centered -- felt no inclination to take on any of this financial burden. Thirty of the 48 states allocated no money at all to enforcement, the other 18 a combined $550,000. To remedy this, author E.B. White suggested the government nationalize speakeasies. "In that manner, the citizenry would be assured liquor of a uniformly high quality, and the enormous cost of dry enforcement could be met by the profits from the sale of drinks."30
As crime and costs rose, so too did the number of arrests -- from 34,000 in 1921 to 68,000 in 1924, to 74,000 in 1932 -- and thus the judicial system increasingly found itself overburdened. Eventually, 90% of federal prohibition cases were expedited through a "bargain day" system, whereby violators could receive lower fines and jail terms if they pled guilty. In part because of the lucrative nature of bootlegging, Prohibition enforcement also became shot through with corruption. While Prohibition agent Izzy Einstein -- the "master hooch-hound" and "the man of a thousand disguises" -- and his rotund partner Moe Smith became national celebrities due to their chameleonic tendencies and dedication to the job ("Would you like to sell a pint of whiskey to a deserving prohibition agent?" was one of Einstein's pre-arrest catch phrases), more than a few agents decided instead to opt out of strict enforcement and go where the money was at. In the first six years of the Noble Experiment, 750 federal Prohibition agents were dismissed for delinquency or misconduct. Surveying the agents she was often forced to deal with, Assistant Attorney General Mabel Walker Willebrandt deemed many of them "as devoid of honesty and integrity as the bootlegging fraternity" and "no more fit to be trusted with a commission to enforce the laws of the United States and to carry a gun than the notorious bandit Jesse James." Congressman La Guardia, meanwhile, argued, not unpersuasively, that "the importation of liquor into this country is of such magnitude…that it could not carry on without the knowledge if not the connivance of the authorities entrusted with the enforcement of the law."31
The low quality of federal agents helped to further diminish the Noble Experiment in Americans' eyes, particularly after incidents such as the 1924 raid on the home of Portland businessman A.G. Labbe. Then, agents -- some of them ex-cons -- armed with a suspect warrant broke up a society party on slim pretenses and found little-to-no alcohol on the premises. In a decade newly attuned to the importance of civil liberties, this sort of harassment of otherwise upstanding citizens seemed particularly detestable. "Prohibition," argued Clarence Darrow, "is an outrageous and senseless invasion of the personal liberty of millions of intelligent and temperate persons who see nothing dangerous or immoral in the consumption of alcoholic beverages."32
And there was the problem with the product itself. All too often, strains of bootleg alcohol hit the market during Prohibition that were much more of a health risk than the actual stuff. Among the adulterated booze in circulation during the time, notes historian William Leuchtenburg, were "Jamaica ginger, better known as 'jake,' which paralyzed thousands; Jackass Brandy, which caused internal bleeding; Soda Pop Moon from Philadelphia, containing poisonous isopropyl alcohol; Panther Whiskey, based on esters and fuel oil; [and] Yack Yack Bourbon from Chicago, which blended iodine and burnt sugar." "Who drinks bootleg drinks with Death," the New York Times warned in 1923, but drinkers didn't care. By 1926, according to Mabel Walker Willebrandt, 660,000 gallons a month of these sorts of hooch were sold to thirsty American customers. The first of these above, Jamaica Ginger, had been an over-the-counter headache medicine and digestive aid that was 70% alcohol. After being tampered with by bootlegger chemists to bypass federal inspection, the substance afflicted over 35,000 Americans in 1930 with the "Jake Walk" -- a paralytic shuffle arising from the fact that sufferers of the "Jake Leg Blues" could no longer feel their extremities, occasionally resulting in permanent injury. In 1927, a Prohibition Bureau study found that fully 98 percent of 480,000 gallons of confiscated liquor in New York contained poisons, usually wood alcohol. By that same year, historian Edward Behr estimates, over 50,000 men and women had died from adulterated alcohol poisoning. These figures also need to be added to the moral calculus of Prohibition.33
As the Noble Experiment seemed to grow ever more ridiculous and pernicious as a public policy in the cities, the stridency of the issue in politics, on both sides of the divide, grew ever more pronounced. "Not one American in a hundred is actively interested in the League of Nations," wrote the irredeemable Wet Henry Mencken in 1924, "not one in a thousand is noticeably wrought up about the petty stealings of the friends of Dr. Daugherty; not one in ten thousand ever shows any excitement about States' rights. But Prohibition is talked of everywhere, endlessly and with passion, and especially it is talked of in the big cities." Even though urban centers grew to despise the law, many also agreed with Senator Morris Shepherd's contention that "there is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tale." Will Rogers explained this paradox thusly: "If you think this country ain't dry, you just watch 'em vote," he noted, "and if you think this country ain't wet, you just watch 'em drink…You see, when they vote, it's counted, but when they drink, it ain't." By 1928, the outgoing Mabel Willebrandt, in her book The Inside of Prohibition, called it with good justification "the only real political issue of the whole nation."34
As discussed in Chapter Eight, this was another legacy of Prohibition -- its increasing potency as a divisive cultural issue in American politics. The seemingly unbridgeable chasm that had yawned before the Democratic Party in 1924 would, by 1928, engulf the general election. On one hand, urban politicians increasingly began to extol the virtues of drinking and deplore the vices of Puritanism. "The more advanced a country is, the higher its alcoholic content," suggested Congressman George Tinkham of Massachusetts. "The government which stands against the founder of Christianity cannot survive," Senator David Walsh of Massachusetts often asserted in a clever turnaround. "If Christ came back and performed the Cana miracle again, he would be jailed and possibly crucified again." If the Coolidge White House didn't sound "a terrible blast against the potential danger of weakening law and order and good morals," a nervous William Allen White wrote a friend in 1926, "Prohibition is pretty badly up against it in the East. We, in the West, are safe no matter what happens."35
On the other hand, the nation's rural Drys were in no mood to waver. "I often see it said, even by ministers, that the Prohibition Amendment does not represent general public opinion and for that reason is less entitled to support," wrote social worker Frederic Almy to The Survey in 1926. "It does not in cities, but in the country the approval is almost universal." Prohibition, Walter Lippmann wrote in 1927, had "become much more than a mere question of regulating the liquor traffic. It involves a test of strength between social orders." The Amendment, he argued, "is the rock on which the evangelical church militant is founded, and with it are involved a whole way of life with an ancient tradition. The overcoming of the Eighteenth Amendment would mean the emergence of the cities as the dominant force in America, dominant politically and socially as they are already dominant economically." As such, Prohibition became the proxy war through which this urban-rural conflict raged.36
As Prohibition moved to the center of the national discussion, some progressives became even more disgusted with the state of contemporary politics. In 1929, Hiram Johnson -- "more or less tepidly" a Dry -- told Ickes that "I personally have no use for liquor, and I abominate its use in others to excess. I do resent, however, that the sole test of character in this Republic, the sole right to hold office, the only trait in public men, shall be a mad enthusiasm to disembowel one who may, either, occasionally or habitually, drink. There is another thing about it that is reprehensible, and that is the ecclesiastical government. We have it now, and have it to the full." Ickes concurred. "I have long been of the opinion that the prohibition amendment and the Volstead Act, from the general point of view of the country, are of the most vicious bits of legislation that have been passed in our time," he responded. "Under cover of the highly 'moral' question of prohibition the thimble-riggers and the body-snatchers drive ahead without fear of check…And so far as I can see we are going to have this red herring…with us for years to come."37
Johnson and Ickes held a particular disregard for the Anti-Saloon League, who, the latter wrote in 1926, "have become as corrupt as the old saloon politicians." And they saw the shrill moral outrage now attending the Prohibition debate as yet another character flaw in their mutual frenemy, Raymond Robins. "Raymond…seems to be tilting his lance these days against all critics and opponents of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act," an exasperated Ickes wrote his friend in 1926. "I was literally dragged by main force to hear him make a speech on the subject at the City Club last week." Johnson was equally disgusted, arguing that, in the Wet-Dry political climate of 1928 and 1929, "[s]uch men as Borah and Robins, undoubtedly, are in their element. They can cunningly play any game, aye they can violate any principle or tenet, and have it entirely forgiven when they shout at the top of their lungs 'dry.'"38
As Senator Johnson's screed attests, Robins thought Prohibition was a decisive victory in the "age-long struggle of civilization against primitive appetite," and that it was intimately bound up with the similar drive to Outlaw War. As for the Idaho Senator, he supported the Noble Experiment for the same reason he was for the Bill of Rights -- they were in the Constitution. "So long as the Eighteenth Amendment stands as a part of the fundamental law of our country," he wrote to a constituent the week before Prohibition went into effect, "it is the duty of every good citizen, in my judgment, to see that it is upheld and maintained in letter and in spirit. There is no other basis upon which we can build orderly society than that of obedience to the law." Borah would sound this theme continually for the remainder of the decade. "So long as the Constitution remains as it is," he told another correspondent in 1926, "there is only one thing for us to do, and that is, to uphold and enforce it."39
Borah's overriding allegiance to the founding document extended to Prohibition's enforcement too, particularly with regard to the Fourth Amendment prohibiting the unlawful search and seizure of property. "It will never do," he wrote one Dry minister in 1921, "for the prohibitionists of this country to take the position that in enforcing the 18th Amendment we have got to disregard the other amendments to the constitution" When Borah was deemed insufficiently Dry by some for this stance, he replied that he was "just as conscientiously in favor of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment as you are. But I have taken an oath to support the entire Constitution of the United States and it is just as impossible for me to violate that oath as I assume it would be for you to violate an oath which you had taken."40
In any case, few doubted Borah's commitment to the cause. In print, the Senator deplored "the pauperism, the insanity, the suicides, the broken families, the cries flowing in one constant steady stream from drink." In April 1927, he took part in a notable debate against Columbia president Nicholas Murray Butler at Boston's Symphony Hall on the question of whether the Republican Party should embrace repeal in its platform in 1928. While sounding the same argument that Prohibition must be upheld so long as it was in the Constitution, which Butler conceded, Borah also made the proactive case for Prohibition. "I believe the Republican Party should declare for the Amendment and for its enforcement," he argued, "and make the same sublime and daring fight against this evil that it made against the evils of slavery, two evils which the immortal Lincoln associated together as the greatest evils of the human race." Besides, America could not know how well Prohibition was working, he declared, until a generation had past.41
Borah also thought that the Noble Experiment had, since its passage, been continually hamstrung by a lack of federal commitment. "If there is no real sentiment and conviction behind the effort of those who duty it is to enforce the law, of course, there will be no enforcement," he wrote in 1926. "I do not think the Prohibition amendment has ever had behind it the official obligations of the government in the matter of enforcement." As such, in early 1928, Borah circulated a questionnaire to possible 1928 presidential candidates asking them to come forward and declare for a "vigorous and faithful enforcement" of Prohibition, and citing the state of New York as a particular problem area. Pressing Borah on the line of argument, an aggravated Fiorello La Guardia asked his colleague -- who was notoriously against high government expenditures -- why he did not recommend "$200,000,000 a year as a starter for prohibition enforcement?":
Considering the area and population of the country, prohibition cannot be enforced with less than 100,000 Federal agents as a starter…Prohibition, like charity, should commence at home. You have forty-three Counties in your State and I am reliably informed by some of the boys who served in the Army with me during the World War, that liquor can be obtained in every county of the state…Idaho has an estimated present population of 534,000 and an area of 83,888 square miles. I am sure that you will agree that ten Federal prohibition agents for every thousand square miles is a ridiculously low figure. Bootleggers and law violators not working on any fixed hourly schedule require vigilance at all hours of the night and day. Therefore, ten men per thousand square miles working in two shifts instead of three, would require at least 1660 men for the State of Idaho. At the present time Idaho, Montana, and Utah compose one Prohibition District…This allows an average of 60,000 square miles. No wonder so many people vote dry in that section of the country.42"[I]f the champions of prohibition are not willing to assume the burden of enforcing it as you desire, vigorously and faithfully," La Guardia concluded, "then the thing to do is what some of us are advocating, to repeal the amendment and legislate accordingly." Borah didn't bite, except to say that "there is no reason why you should not address these questions to the respective candidates" in 1928.43
Borah, it seems clear, saw himself as one of those potential candidates for 1928, which is one reason he gravitated so strongly to the Prohibition issue in the later Twenties -- he clearly seemed to think it was the issue on which he could mass a national campaign. In November 1927, he had his major speeches on the Noble Experiment circulated as a pamphlet. "Senator Borah, after having been a professional Liberal, is now a professional Prohibitionist," spat H.L. Mencken in disgust. Borah's new overriding Dryness also further exacerbated tensions in the flailing "Borah bloc" in the Senate, particularly as the two members from Wisconsin, John J. Blaine and Bob La Follette, Jr., leaned Wet. Prohibition is "not the only pebble on the beach," George Norris argued to smooth things over among the cantankerous crew. It didn't take. By December 1927, with Borah now on a dry crusade, the progressive bloc had fallen apart. That month, Bob La Follette rued the "determination on the part of each to stand by his own convictions no matter what the progressive bloc proposed." The "Progressives Cannot Agree on Big Issues," editorialized the New York Sun as the Senate bloc dissipated at last.44
When it came to the Noble Experiment, Borah also illustrated how malleable his much-professed devotion to the Constitution could be. "No state can be dry while the Interstate Commerce clause of the Constitution remains," the Senator intoned, "unless there is a prohibition which covers all states." This was the sort of federal reasoning the Senator had long rejected on the issue of the Dyer anti-lynching bill, where Borah, noted Walter White, had "persistently and consistently used his oratory and reputation as an authority on constitutional law to oppose federal anti-lynching laws and other legislation of that character." Worse, according to Raymond Robins, Borah seemed to indicate he had opposed the Dyer bill in order to garner white Southern support for his own possible presidential bid.45
Whatever his reasons, Borah was not the only prominent progressive to keep the faith on Prohibition. Another was William Allen White, who thought that it was a necessary step to accommodate life in the Machine Age. "It all comes down to the definition of liberty, doesn't it?" he wrote one friend in 1927:
I have tried to indicate my feeling that liberties are inexorably restricted as civilization becomes more complex. The liberty to drink what one wants to drink, and to buy it where one wants to buy it, is a perfectly defensible liberty in a simple civilization. But in a complex civilization, that liberty is not defensible because, although we will both admit that not more than ten persons drink to excess, the presence of ten persons in a hundred, a hundred persons in ten thousand, ten thousand persons in a million…this number endangers the lives, property, and security of too many people. Machinery requires a calm, steady nerve. Poisoned nerves at throttles, levers, and key places make a tremendous waste in a complicated civilization, hence it is the duty of the nine people who do not overdrink, as it seems to me, to give up their liberty so far as drink goes for the good not of the one man who abuses the privilege but for the ten thousands who are his potential victims. That is the whole philosophy of prohibition. If it cannot stand on that, it goes.46Still, White suggested, it was possible that "with the many substitutes for boredom which civilization is presenting, that is the radio, the moving picture, the cheap automobile, and a diverting entertainment [that] man many…lose his vicious appetite for alcohol and use it wisely as they do around the Mediterranean where they have become immunized to alcohol." Were that the case, then America could stand down on the issue. Until then, White was a Dry, but not one against looking the other way here or there. In the spirit of hospitality, he promised to "get police protection" for H.L. Mencken from the Governor should he visit Emporia, "so that you could bring in a bottle of life-sustaining hooch, and hang on to it as long as you wanted to, and as often as you pleased."47
White's argument that humankind must change its habits in the Machine Age were shared by other advocates of the Noble Experiment. One of the "Two Principal Reasons for Prohibition," one Dry pamphlet argued, was that "18,000,000 automobiles beside trucks and other traffic, make the return of alcohol as a beverage under any name, impossible. People would be afraid to use their autos or buy more. The loss in life, money and employment would be immense. OUR LARGEST labor employing industry WOULD FAIL." Indeed it might, since, as Henry Ford told the Pictorial Review, "if booze ever comes back to the U.S., I am through with manufacturing. I would not be bothered with the problem of handling over 200,000 men and trying to pay them wages which the saloons would take away from them. I wouldn't be interested in putting autos in the hands of a generation soggy with drink." And as Jane Addams noted in 1930, "Automobile accidents are multiplied, not only by the man who is intoxicated but even more by the man whose few drinks have made him recklessly eager to take chances and have evoked within him a certain exhibitionism of daredevil courage. If it ever comes to a forced choice between automobiles and liquor, there would be little doubt, I imagine, as to which would be preferred." For that reason among others, Addams argued, repeal of Prohibition was a non-starter. "the increased speed and mechanization of life, not only in transportation but our daily living, requires the protection it affords."48
Like many settlement house workers, Addams had an intimate knowledge of how drinking had impacted working-class families. "It is hard to exaggerate," she wrote, "what excessive drinking did in the way of disturbing domestic relations and orderly family life." It was important, Addams argued, not just for these families for the positive development of young men and women that drinking be stopped. "The imaginative powers, the sense that life possesses variety and color, are realized most easily in moments of pleasure and comradeship," she argued. "All day long the young people work at factories…Only in moments of recreation does their sense of individuality expand; they are then able to reveal, as at no other time, that hidden self which is so important to each of us." Before Prohibition, "happiness and release from reality were associated with drinking…There is no doubt that more wholesome outlets are gradually being substituted in spite of the fact that many young men are very eager to demonstrate their superiority to law." What of the youth culture? "We know indeed that a great many young people are drinking at the present moment solely from a sense of bravado. Each generation looks for a method with which it may defy the conventions and startle its elders." But, Addams maintained, "this braggadocio movement is spending itself…Many flappers are afraid to drive with men who carry hip flasks."49
Clearly, Addams conceded, much had gone wrong with Prohibition in its first ten years. "It is hard to tell just when we began to observe the social changes, due to lax enforcement or to the general conviction that it was possible to 'get away with it,'" she wrote, but clearly the law lost the force of authority. Meanwhile, the "bootlegging situation came to resemble that in the early Pennsylvania oil fields not only in its economic structure but in its ruthlessness and widespread terrorism." Similarly, the "development of political corruption" could not be ignored, nor could the corruption of law enforcement -- "The most optimistic citizen…could scarcely be proud of the role the police play in the Chicago situation."50
Nonetheless, America could not and should not turn back. "To give it up now, or to modify seriously the Eighteenth Amendment, would be to obtain not even a negative result, and would mean that we never could be clear as to the real effect of national prohibition." The precedent for Prohibition, she argued, was Reconstruction -- another time "in which the Federal government was obliged to administer a law in the midst of a population averse to enforcement." However unpopular the Reconstruction Amendments were at the time, "could anyone say that...[they were] not to the great advantage of the citizens of the United States, nor deny that after two generations of even pseudo freedom the negroes have had an enormous advantage over their forbears?" "Our experiment in the United States is being watched all over the world," she argued, and America should see it through.51
In fact, W.E.B. DuBois supported the Noble Experiment because he thought it would help result in stricter federal enforcement of those Reconstruction Amendments. As noted in Chapter Six, DuBois and other leaders of the NAACP looked to the constitutional powers asserted to enforce Prohibition to be used to back a federal anti-lynching law. Prohibition was popular among other African-American leaders as well. "[T]he corruption of the Negro vote has been through the use of liquor plentifully served," A. Phillip Randolph and Chandler Owen argued in their journal The Messenger before enactment. "Prohibition is a promise, a splendid promise to the masses of working people."52
By the end of the Twenties, that promise looks rather less bright. Instead, the Noble Experiment had come to seem to many a condescending imposition -- one that had violated individual liberty, inflated criminality and corruption, swallowed up public resources and distorted American politics, exacerbated the rural-urban divide, and further soured Americans on reform and respect for the law. Jane Addams continued to support Prohibition despite its many flaws, but as she told students at Rockford College in 1931, "May I warn you against doing good to people, and trying to make others good by law? One does good, if at all, with people, not to people." By the end of 1933, four years after Pauline Sabin had organized the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform -- which become the largest organization for repeal and a group that by December 1931 had more members than the Women's Christian Temperance Union, the nation would concur -- and end the Experiment for good.53
For alcohol, that is. In 1922, the same year The New Republic and The Survey were voicing their doubts about the Prohibition regime, Congress passed the Jones-Miller Act, which, for the first time, criminalized illegal possession of cocaine and narcotics with a fine of $5000 and up to ten years in prison. This legislation gave teeth to the 1914 Harrison Act, which had instead prescribed tax penalties to stop the illegal import, export, and manufacture of said drugs. (The illegal possession and use of opium had previously been banned in the 1909 Opium Exclusion Act.) This 1922 Act, exulted Joseph Chamberlain in The Survey, "strengthened very materially the arm of the executive department in the crusade against the narcotic evil…[and] the executive department itself is certain to make vigorous use of the new weapons at its disposal." Chamberlain was correct: Eight years later, in 1930, the Department of the Treasury would create a separate Federal Bureau of Narcotics to enforce the Jones-Miller provisions, and a new devastatingly costly and destructive Prohibition regime was well under way.54
While passage of the Jones-Miller bill in 1922 "shows a strong public sentiment against the traffic in narcotics," Chamberlain cautioned readers of The Survey that "the fight against narcotics is not over."55
Indeed, it never would be.
Return to the Table of Contents.
2. Ibid. Francis Hackett, "Brotherly Love," The New Republic, March 20th, 1915 (Vol. 2, No 20), 185.
3. Ibid. Nancy MacLean, Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 4-5. "Stone Mountain History," Stone Mountain Memorial Association. (http://www.stonemountainpark.org/text/Stone%20Mountain%20History.pdf) The origins of the second Klan are also often tied to the 1915 lynching of Jewish businessman Leo Frank for the suspected rape and murder of his employee Mary Phagan. But according to historian Thomas Pegram in 2011, "[d]espite claims to the contrary, historians have found no firm connections between the lynchers, who called themselves the Knights of Mary Phagan, and the revived Knights of the Ku Klux Klan that organized later the same year in Atlanta." Thomas R. Pegram, One Hundred Percent American: The Rebirth and Decline of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s (Lanham, Ivan R. Dee, 2011), 158-159.
4. MacLean, 5. Higham, Strangers in the Land, 297. Zinn, The Twentieth Century, 105. Barry, Rising Tide, 142.
5. Jackson, Ku Klux Klan in the City, 5. Barry, 141-142. McLean, 4-7. One Klansman cited in Judge Ben Lindsey's 1925 article in The Survey condemning the Klan said: "I was in the grocery store business, but I quit. I make more money selling this Klan stuff that I ever could selling groceries. You see, it is like this: I find a fellow that hates the Jews, that's his 'bug'; another fellow hates the Catholics, that's his 'bug'; another, the Negroes; another, the foreigners. I sell the Klan 'bugs' to every one of them. I get my commission. It's a great business and easy money." Judge Ben Lindsey, "My Fight with the Ku Klux Klan," The Survey, June 1st, 1925 (Vol. 54, No. 5), 321.
6. Ibid. Pegram, 7. Kleagles were but the start of the Klan's fantastical nomenclature. In one of his many anti-Klan tirades, ex-Senator LeRoy Percy of Mississippi - proving the Klan had no monopoly on casual racism - ridiculed the "Genii, Grand Dragons, Hydras of Realms, Grand Goblins, Grand Titians and Furies of Provinces, Giants, Exalted Cyclops, and Terrors of Klantons" that composed the organization. Percy, a Mississippi conservative who held no truck with this new organization in his midst, called these titles akin to "some colored society…And yet keeping a brother in black out of the order, the only people who can really enjoy it. Don't you know that no full grown white man ought to be allowed to indulge in that stuff?" Barry, 152.
7. MacLean, 6-7. Pegram, 4. Kathleen M. Blee, Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 3-8, 158-159.
8. Hofstadter, Age of Reform, 294-296. While never as violent as either its predecessor or successor, the Klan of the 1920s was nonetheless linked to some grotesque episodes of violence. One of the most notorious was the torture and murder of Filmore Watt Daniels and Thomas F. Richards in Mer Rouge, Louisana , two good-time white planters who scoffed at the Klan and purportedly shared the attentions of African-American women. They were set upon by masked men after a picnic, and their horribly mutilated bodies were found four months later. While the Klan was never officially tied to the murders, "the belief is nearly universal," argued The New Republic, "that the local Ku Klux Klan committed the crime and shielded the murders." The ensuing firestorm helped to end the organization early in Louisiana. Jackson, Ku Klux Klan in the City, 86-87. Barry, Rising Tide, 147-152. "Ku Klux and Crime," The New Republic January 17th, 1923 (Vol. 33, No. 424), 189-190. Hiram Wesley Evans, "The Klan's Fight for Americanism," The North American Review, March, 1926, 33, in Mowry, ed., 136-145.
10. Ibid. Blee, 2. In fact, the Pope was not a supporter of evolution.
11. "Ku Klux and Crime," The New Republic January 17th, 1923 (Vol. 33, No. 424), 189-190. "The K.K.K.," The New Republic, September 21, 1921 (Vol. 28, No. 355), 88-89. Edward T. Devine, "The Klan in Texas," The Survey, April 1, 1922, 11. Edward T. Devine, "More about the Klan," The Survey, April 8, 1922, 42. "The Ku Klux Klan," wrote the editors of TNR, "holds that the dearest values in American life are Protestantism; white supremacy, in America and the world; Anglo-Saxon legal institutions; the system of free enterprise, or since the word no longer carries a reproach, capitalism. These are respectable values." Ibid.
12. Edward T. Ware, "The Ku Klux Klan," The Survey, May 13, 1922, 251.
13. "A Texan", "The Ku Klux Klan," The Survey, May 13, 1922, 251.
14. Judge Ben Lindsey, "My Fight with the Ku Klux Klan," The Survey, June 1st, 1925 (Vol. 54, No. 5), 271-274, 319-321. "The Ku Klux Klan Are Riding Again!" The Crisis, March 1919 (Vol. 17, No. 5), 229-231. Lewis, W.E.b. Du Bois, 80-81. White to Herbert Swope, September 17, 1921. White, Selected Letters, 220. White to Charles Curtis, November 10, 1924. White, Selected Letters, 244-245. As Harold Ickes' son Raymond remembered the incident, he and his father had stopped to take in a Klan parade in Ohio. "We were standing in the front rank," Raymond recalled, "and along came this parade of peaked-hooded characters. Ahead of it was an individual carrying the American flag. As the flag passed - as was the custom in those days - Dad took off his hat. As soon as the flag had gone by, he put it back on again. A minute or two after that, one of the these thugs came alongside, reached over and got Dad's hat and said 'Take off your hat -I'm an American.' Dad said, 'I'm an American too, you son-of-a-bitch!,' hit him in the face and retrieved his hat." T.H.Watkins, Righteous Pilgrim: The Life and Times of Harold Ickes, 1874-1952 (New York: Henry Holt, 1990), 198. Ickes also applauded White's gubernatorial run, telling him "I have been more than ever proud to know you. I feel about the Klan exactly as you do. I hate bigotry, intolerance, and ignorance under whatever guise[.]" Ickes to William Allen White, September 22, 1924. HLI Box 41: William Allen White.
15. White to Villard, November 19, 1924. White, Selected Letters, 246. Salvatore, 337.
16. Behr, 3. Hofstadter, Age of Reform, 289-290.
17. Pietrusza, 158.
18. Leuchtenburg, Perils of Prosperity, 213. James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900-1920 (Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 1963), 1-2. Lender and Martin, 125.
19. Leuchtenburg, Perils of Prosperity, 213.
20. T. Henry Walnut, "Beating About the Prohibition Bush," The Survey, April 29th, 1922, 153-155.
21. "The Enforcement of Prohibition," The New Republic, October 18th, 1922, 185-187. Hays, City Lawyer, 244.
22. Dorothy Parker, "Reformers -- A Hymn of Hate." Behr, 163. Miller, Gifford Pinchot, 202-203. Pietrusza, 159.
23. Behr, 147. Lender and Martin, 136-139. Chambers, 139.
24. Douglas, 23-24.
25. Chauncey, 305-306.
26. Chauncey, 306-308. Behr, 87.
27. Chauncey, 310.
28. Behr, 87, 160. Nate Hendley, American Gangsters Then and Now: An Encyclopedia (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2010), 199. Kenneth Rose, American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 47.
29. Lender and Martin, 141-142. Andrew Sinclair, Prohibition, The Era of Excess (New York: Little, Brown, 1962), 222. Behr, 177. Jonathan Eig, Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010), 187-194.
30. Rose, 47. Lender and Martin, 154. Leuchtenburg, Perils of Prosperity, 215.
31. Rose, 46-49. Behr, 154-156. "Einstein, Rum Sleuth," The New York Times, March 26th, 1922, in Mowry, ed. 107-108. Zinn, La Guardia in Congress, 154.
32. Lender and Martin, 155.
33. Leuchtenburg, Perils of Prosperity, 214. Roy A. Haynes, The New York Times, July 26th, 1923, in Mowry, ed. 103-104. Behr, 85, 163, 221-222. J Parascandola, "The Public Health Service and Jamaica ginger paralysis in the 1930's," Public Health Reports, May-June 1995, 110(3), 361-363.
34. Mencken, Carnival of Buncombe, 104. Dumenl, 231-232. Asinof, 225. David E. Kyvig, "Women Against Prohibition," American Quarterly , Vol. 28, No. 4 (Autumn, 1976), pp. 465. Behr, 162.
35. Leuchtenburg, Perils of Prosperity, 213, 217. White to C.G. Christgau, July 29, 1926. White, Selected Letters, 263.
36. Frederic Almy, "18th Amendment Practically Unanimous," The Survey, July 15th, 1926, 424. Lippmann, Men of Destiny, 30-31.
37. Johnson to Ickes, March 8, 1929. HLI Box 34: Hiram Johnson, 1929-1930. Ickes to Johnson, April 6, 1929. HLI, Box 34: Hiram Johnson 1929-1930.
38. Ickes to Johnson, October 20, 1926. HLI Box 33: Hiram Johnson. Ickes to Johnson, December 21, 1926. HLI Box 33: Hiram Johnson. Johnson to Ickes, March 8, 1929. HLI, Box 34: Hiram Johnson, 1929-1930.
39. Salzman, 322. Borah to Rev. Paul R. Hickok, January 10, 1920. WJB, Box 87: Prohibition. Borah to A.T. Cole, December 8th, 1926. WJB, Box 237: Prohibition. In a September 1928 letter to Ickes, Hiram Johnson angrily eviscerated Borah's continual reliance on this sort of argument. "It's amusing to read of Borah talking about farm relief," wrote Johnson. "He had bitterly opposed the McNary Haugen bill, of course upon 'constitutional' grounds. He has always found some 'constitutional objection where he wished to align himself with privilege. It was he who made the argument upon the floor of the Senate upon 'constitutional' grounds against the Senate resolution calling for the resignation of Denby, and it was he who thus protected Daugherty to the very last moment. It was upon 'constitutional' grounds that he could not be for the Child-Labor Bill, and on 'constitutional' grounds, as well, that originally he opposed woman suffrage; but the very ground upon which he opposed woman suffrage was the ground upon which he favored prohibition." Johnson to Ickes, September 29th, 1928. HLI Box 33: Hiram Johnson.
40. Borah to Rev. Edwin Deacon, Fairfield, Idaho, September 13, 1921. WJB Box 100: 1920-21 Prohibition. Borah to H.M. Holverson, Boise, Idaho, November 4, 1921. WJB Box 100: 1920-21 Prohibition.
41. Ashby, 257. Leinwand, 80. Lender and Martin, 149. That same month saw another high-profile debate over Prohibition at Carnegie Hall - this one between Clarence Darrow and an ailing Wayne Wheeler, head of the Anti-Saloon League. Wheeler would perish five months later, in September 1927 - marking the second Dry icon in two years to die relatively soon after crossing swords with Darrow. Behr, 224-225.
42. Borah to A.T. Cole, December 8th, 1926. WJB, Box 237: Prohibition. La Guardia to Borah, February 11th, 1928. WJB Box 260: Political - Personal.
43. Ibid. Borah to La Guardia, February 13th, 1928. WJB Box 260: Political - Personal.
44. Ashby, 257, 234-235.
45. Ashby, 254-256.
46. White to Gabriel Wells, February 26, 1927 White, Selected Letters, 266-267. White to Mencken, April 29, 1922. White, Selected Letters, 224.
47. Ibid. White to Mencken, April 29, 1922. White, Selected Letters, 224.
48. Carrie Erickson, "The Two Principal Reasons for Prohibition," undated. WJB Box 260: Prohibition. Behr, 150. Addams, Second Twenty Years, 253-254, 260.
49. Addams, Second Twenty Years, 229, 225-226, 253-254.
50. Addams, Second Twenty Years, 233, 237.
51. Addams, Second Twenty Years, 257, 259, 260.
52. Michael Lerner, Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2007), 35.
53. Chambers, 108. Rose, 74-80. Kyvig, 468-474.
54. Wilbur Miller, ed., The Social History of Crime and Punishment in America (Washington DC: SAGE, 2012), 778. Joseph P. Chamberlain, "New Weapons in the War Against Narcotics," The Survey, June 15th, 1922, 400.
55. Chamberlain, 400.
If you found this dissertation useful or entertaining, please consider contributing to the tip fund.
Alas, history isn't the wildly remunerative discipline it used to be.