Anti-Prohibition Organizations (Wet Groups)

A majority of people supported National Prohibition (1920-1933) when it went into effect. But even then, many people strongly opposed it. Earlier, in an effort to prevent ratification of the 18th Amendment, some activists had formed anti-Prohibition organizations. (The 18th was the Prohibition amendment.)

Anti-Prohibition Organizations

Wayne Wheeler

Prohibition supporters wanted to de-emphasize the extent of anti-prohibition opposition to the Noble Experiment. For example, Ella Boole, the president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) made a bold assertion to Congress. She said ‘I speak for the women of America.’ Thus, she implied that all women in the country agreed with the WCTU and supported Prohibition.

Anti-Prohibition U.S. Representative George Tinkham wanted to emphasize that many Americans strongly opposed it. So early during Prohibition (1922), he called Anti-Saloon League leader Wayne Wheeler to testify before a House committee. There he compelled Wheeler to read aloud a list of anti-Prohibition organizations. There were already many. And opposition would grow over time.

  • American People’s League.
  • Anti-Dry League.
  • National Liberal Alliance.
  • Anti-Prohibition Society of America.
  • Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.
  • Auxiliary Caravan (Order of Camels) for Women.
  • League of Rights.
  • Liberty Defense League.
  • Light Wine and Beer League of America.
  • National Order of the Sphinx.
  • New York Anti-Prohibition League.
  • One Hundred Per Cent American Spirit League.
  • National Liberty Party.
  • People’s Liberty League.
  • Sanity League.
  • Self-Determination League of Liberty.
  • Tax Adjustment League.
  • Association of Moderate Legislation Clubs.
  • National Order of Camels.
  • Association Opposed to National Prohibition.
  • Constitutional Liberty League.
  • Free People’s League.
  • Good Fellows of America.
  • National Personal Liberty League.
  • Personal Liberty League.
  • The 1776 Society.
  • Veterans of Liberty.
  • Vigilance League.

With the passage of time, the problems created by Prohibition increased. Crime went up. Violence increased. Corruption spread. Deaths from toxic moonshine skyrocketed. Binge drinking became common. Tax revenues dropped. Criminal justice expenses rose. Respect for law declined. And the list went on.

The promises of Prohibition went unfilled. But the serious unintended consequences quickly grew. Opposition to Prohibition mushroomed. It culminated in Prohibition’s Repeal.

 

Resources on anti-Prohibition organizations

Anti-Prohibition Organizations. In: Cherrington, E., et al (Eds.) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem, v. 1. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1925, p. 175.

Association Opposed To National Prohibition To Go Into Politics.  Lewiston Daily Sun, Sept 8, 1919, p. 3.

Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition. Chicago: U Chicago Press, 1979.

Okrent, D. Last Call. The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. NY: Scribner, 2010.

Rose, K. American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition. NY: NYU Press, 1997.