In an effort to prevent ratification of the 18th Amendment, some activists had formed anti-Prohibition organizations. (The 18th Amendment established National Prohibition.)
III. Prohibition Problems
Nevertheless, a majority of people supported National Prohibition (1920-1933) when it went into effect. They wanted it to be successful.
However, Prohibition quickly began creating serious problems. Therefore, Prohibition supporters (drys) wanted to de-emphasize the growing 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.
On the other hand anti-Prohibition (wet) 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. So did the number of groups favoring Repeal. They included the following.
- American People’s League.
- Anti-Dry League of New Jersey.
- Anti-Prohibition Society of America.
- Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.
- Association of Moderate Legislation Clubs.
- Association Opposed to National Prohibition.
- Auxiliary Caravan (Order of Camels) for Women.
- Constitutional Liberty League.
- Free People’s League.
- Good Fellows of America. (Not the Goodfellows)
- Labor’s National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act
- League of Rights.
- Liberty Defense League.
- Light Wine and Beer League of America.
- Moderation League of New York. (Despite its name, this was a nation-wide Repeal organization.)
- Molly Pitcher Club
- National Liberal Alliance.
- National Liberty Party.
- National Order of Camels.
- National Order of the Sphinx.
- National Personal Liberty League.
- New York Anti-Prohibition League.
- One Hundred Per Cent American Spirit League.
- Personal Liberty League.
- Republican Citizens Committee Against National Prohibition.
- Sanity League.
- Self-Determination League of Liberty.
- Tax Adjustment League.
- The 1776 Society.
- United Repeal Council
- Veterans of Liberty.
- Vigilance League.
- Voluntary Committee of Lawyers. See also VCL.
- Women’s Moderation Union.
- Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR).
III. Prohibition Problems
With the passage of time, the serious problems caused 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.
IV. 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.