Presidents of Prohibition were many, not just the ones during the actual time of Prohibition. As with any major project, it takes an inordinate amount of time to change anything politically. I was inspired to write this blog post when I read the book Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt…
Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt, The Compete History of Presidential Drinking, by Mark Will-Weber, is a well-researched and documented history book, the likes of which we’ve yet had revealed. Enlightening, frightening, and really captivating, this book will never be pried out of my stiffly clutched arms. It’s a favorite… because it so inspired me to learn more about that time and how it was viewed politically from inside of the White House.
Prohibition was enacted in 1920 and continued for 13 years, ending in 1933 under the terms of the Eighteenth Amendment. It was enacted during Woodrow Wilson’s second term (1913 to 1921), and ended during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s term in office (1933 to 1945). From Buchanan’s time in politics (the mid 180s) until Wilson’s term (over 50 years later), every president had to deal with Prohibition as a hot bed, until its Repeal in 1933.
“In [Prohibition] I think, they will entirely fail,” he wrote in an 1867 letter. “lager beer, especially among the Germans, and old rye will be too strong for them. Still, intemperance is a great curse to our people, but it swill never be put down by laws prohibition the sale of all intoxicating liquors…”
The Subject of intemperance must have been a curious one for Buchanan to ponder, since the “Sage of Wheatland” himself had such a knack for knocking back alcohol. [p. 121-122]
In 1919, the required number of legislatures of the States ratified The 18th Amendment to the Federal Constitution. This allowed for the creation of national Prohibition within one year of ratification. Many women, driven by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, were pivotal in bringing about national Prohibition in the US, believing it would protect their families from the effects of alcohol abuse. They wanted their husbands out of bars in the evenings, and back into the their homes, after a hard day’s work. Social life was very different during those times. Men, who were drunk, were known to go home only to abuse their wives, and women had had enough. Interestingly, this set up organized crime in the United States, as an end result.
Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. Federal Prohibition agents (police) were given the task of enforcing the law.
Presidents of Prohibition
Starting with the chit chat…
James Buchannan (pre-presidential, the discussion begin)
enacted during Woodrow Wilson’s second term (1913 to 1921)
ended during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s term in office (1933 to 1945).