Prohibition in Alabama was was widely supported at first. For the most part, people believed that the Noble Experiment would be helpful. That it would improve health. It would increase safety. And would reduce violence. That it would raise morality. And would bring a better future for young people.
But it quickly became apparent that Prohibition was not helpful. In the first year of the new law, Alabama became the leading state in the country. But it wasn’t a thing. It was first in the number of illegal moonshine stills found.
Moonshine was typically made carelessly. It often contained lead toxins and creosote, Customers sometimes paid with paralysis, blindness, and even death.
Moonshiners and bootleggers had to payoff police, sheriffs and Prohibition Bureau agents. This a cost of doing business.
If bribes didn’t work or became too expensive, violence was sometimes used. A plot to “exterminate” all prohibition enforcement officers in the northern part of the state was discovered. But it was after the death of one and the wounding of two others.
Prohibition also promoted the bad pattern of drinking. It was infrequent but very heavy drinking. This was promoted by speakeasies.
Prohibition also deprived the state of needed revenue. And it was at the same time it was causing increased crime. There were higher costs for policing, courts, and jails. So these burdens that had to be met by taxpayers.
Most people had supported Prohibition in Alabama. Then they saw that the presumed cure was much worse that the disease. So they called for an end to the failed experiment. And they did so by a vote of nearly 60% in favor of Repeal.
Yet much temperance sentiment remains. For example, many counties still prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages. Anti-alcohol attitudes are also seen in high taxes on alcohol. And on Sunday prohibitions of alcohol sales.
Perhaps in the 21st century all vestiges of Prohibition in Alabama will disappear. But don’t count on it. Neo-prohibitionism is strong in the state. And, even today, almost one in five US adults favors prohibition. And they support making it illegal for anyone to drink any alcohol. That’s stricter than National Prohibition. Contrary to popular belief, Prohibition did not prohibit drinking. Discover more at What Did Prohibition Prohibit? It Wasn’t Drinking.
Resources: Prohibition in Alabama
Alabama Alcohol Laws. Think you really know them?
Richard Pearson Hobson (Alabama native).
KKK, Alcohol, and Prohibition.
KKK, & WCTU: Partners in Prohibition.
Crumpton, W. How Alabama became Dry. Montgomery, AL: Paragon, 1925.
Friedman, E. The Prohibition Movement in Alabama. Tuscaloosa: U AL, 1927.
Sellers, J. The Prohibition Movement in Alabama, 1702 to 1943. Chapel Hill: U NC Press, 1943.