Jouett Shouse was a lawyer, newspaper publisher, and politician. He was born December 10, 1879 in Midway, Kentucky and moved with his family to Mexico, Missouri in 1892. After attending the University of Missouri at Columbia, he worked on the staff of the Lexington Herald from 1898 to 1904 and then became the owner and editor of The Kentucky Farmer and Breeder.
In 1911, Jouett Shouse moved to the town of Kinsley in Kansas, where he entered the agriculture and livestock business and became a member of the board of directors of the local bank as well as vice president and treasurer of the Mexican lines of the Kansas, Mexico & Orient Railroad.
From that point, Jouett Shouse's career advanced rapidly, First, he was elected a state senator in 1913 and then elected to the U.S. Congress in 1915. In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Treasury. Part of his responsibilities as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury was to supervise the new Bureau of Prohibition, the job of which it was to enforce National Prohibition.
Shouse was a very active and committed member of the Democratic Party and was appointed chair of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee in May of 1929. He wielded great national power in the country and was featured on the cover of Time magazine in November of 1930.
Ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment creating National Prohibition (1920-1933) was largely a reflection of the Progressive Movement that had hoped to create society in the image of its ideals. One of these ideals had been a population of abstainers from all alcoholic beverages.
However, implementing that vision led to failure and also to disastrous unintended consequences. The resulting growth of organized crime, rise of gangsterism, increase in violence, death from illegal bootleg alcohol, widespread corruption of both law enforcement and public officials, growing disrespect for law, and increased taxes could not be ignored.
Although Shouse had a prosperous legal practice, he became so opposed to Prohibition that gave up both his practice of law and his leadership of the Democratic Party to become president of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment. In that role he played a very active part in promoting the successful effort to repeal National Prohibition.
Shouse later practiced law in Kansas City Missouri and Washington, DC. In 1953, he was elected chair of the Board of Directors of Anton Smit and Co., which is now part of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M). Shouse retired in 1965 and died in 1968.
Although National Prohibition was a failure that was rejected by 74% of American voters, many people and organizations today support neo-prohibition ideas and strongly defend the many vestiges of Prohibition that still continue to exist.
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