Labor’s National Committee for the Modification Volstead Act

The American Federation of Labor (AF of L). It formed Labor’s National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act (LNCMVA). That was in January of 1931.

The Volstead Act was the law that implemented the 18th Amendment that established National Prohibition (1920-1933).

Matthew Woll

National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act
Matthew Woll

Matthew Woll co-founded and then headed the LNCMVA. He testified before a committee of Congress. Woll said that workers and organized labor opposed Prohibition.

Labor leadership opposed the 18th Amendment. It was the first time in history that an amendment to the Constitution denied instead of creating or expanding rights.

As early as 1923, the AF of L had passed a resolution calling for the modification of the Volstead Act. It wanted the law to permit the sale of  wine and beer.

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Serious Problems

Prohibition caused many serious problems. With the passage of time support for it continued to erode.

Following creation of LNCMVA, organized labor began forcefully calling for change.

Advisory Committee

In March of 1931, labor groups formed a committee representing 75 national and international unions. It advised LNCMVA.

In November of the same year, Woll called for a showdown in Congress on the issue. Prohibition was causing increases “in racketeering, gangsterism, debased morality and poisoned citizenship.”

Woll asserted that Prohibition had been a “most tragic mistake.” It was a “miserable fiasco.” He said the group would call for Repeal.

Repeal

An very large majority of people came to believe that Repeal was necessary. As a result, National Prohibition was rejected by voters three-to-one.

LNCMVA wanted the law to permit the sale of “wines and beers.” The call for the legalization of beer and wine but not distilled spirits was naive. It was bused on a common myth. It’s that standard drinks of distilled spirits (liquor) have more pure alcohol than beer or dinner wine.

Alcohol Equivalence

Labor's National Committee
Standard Drinks

Standard drinks all have the same amount of pure alcohol. It’s six-tenths of an ounce per drink. They’re all the same in terms of alcohol.

No form of alcohol gives better health benefits. Nor helps with long life. Beer, wine, and spirits are equally good.

Labor’s National Committee for the Modification of the Volstead Act

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