National Temperance Council: Fought for Prohibition

Temperance activists formed the National Temperance Council in 1913. It coordinate the activities of the major the temperance groups in the U.S.


Its goal was a Constitutional amendment prohibiting the production and sale of alcoholic beverages throughout the country. Its work helped reach that goal within a few years.

The National Temperance Council held a celebratory event in 1920. It was the days before and after Prohibition went into effect. At midnight on the eve of Prohibition there was great excitement. A “triumphal ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ ushered in the new day of prohibition.”1

National Temperance CouncilAt the celebration, the Council stressed the need to continue educating people on the evils of drinking. It wanted people whose cultures included drinking to see the error of their ways. The Council affirmed support for the ‘new Americanization movement that seeks to impart to citizens speaking other tongues the ideal [prohibition] for which our American Government now stands.’2

The Council called for the ‘thorough enforcement of prohibition.’ It wanted special enforcement in states with no prohibition laws of their own. It also wanted special enforcement in states with strong opposition to prohibition.

The Council said that prohibition would become the policy of all nations in the world. Clearly, this optimism was not justified.

As time passed, problems caused by Prohibition led to increased opposition to the Noble Experiment. The opposition became organized. There arose more and louder calls for Repeal.

Switch to Defense

The National Temperance Council switched from offense to defense. It reorganized as the National Conference of Organizations Supporting the 18th Amendment.

The beautiful dream of Prohibition had turned into a horrible nightmare. So the country repealed it on December 5, 1933. A 74% majority of American voters rejected National Prohibition. But even today, nearly one in five adults in the U.S. favors making drinking illegal. Many more support neo-prohibition.

An unrelated National United Temperance Council existed in the UK (1890 – 1984).

1  News. The National Advocate, 1920, 55(2), p. 12.
2  News, id., p. 13.

Dry Caucus. Time, Dec 22, 1930.
News, id., pp. 12-13.
New York City under Prohibition.  Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 1923?
Stoddard, C.F. National Temperance Council. An Historical Sketch, By-laws, Roster. Westerville, OH:  Am Issue, 1920.