Prohibition Repeal Leaders of the U.S.

The vision of National Prohibition (1920-1933) was a beautiful one. Lower crime, poverty, violence, disease, and premature death. There would be increased prosperity, health, and happiness.  It was unthinkable that a time would ever come when Repeal leaders would emerge to help overturn Prohibition.

Unfortunately, the vision promised by prohibitionists was only an illusion. Prohibition failed to reach any of its goals. Worse, it created serious problems throughout society.

As time passed, more and more people became disillusioned. They began calling for the revision or even the repeal of Prohibition. Pro-Prohibition groups fought the tide. Their efforts were futile. Voters finally rejected Prohibition by three to one.

List of Some Major Repeal Leaders

repeal leaders
Pauline Sabin, one of the major Repeal leaders.
  • Sewell Avery (president of Montgomery Ward).
  • Nicholas Murray Butler (diplomat and president of Columbia University).
  • Robert K. Cassatt (investment banker).
  • Joseph H. Chaote, Jr. (lawyer).
  • Fred G. Clark (president of oil and insurance companies).
  • Julian Codman (lawyer).
  • Henry H. Curran (prominent NYC politician).
  • Cleveland H. Dodge (executive of Phelps Dodge Corp.)
  • Lammot du Pont II (president  of E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for 22 years).
  • Pierre S. du Pont (president of the E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for five years. Later president of General Motors).
  • William Faulkner (writer).
  • Marshall Field III (founder, Chicago Sun).
  • M. Louise Gross (political activist; prominent in Democratic Party).
  • Henry B. Joy  (president of Packard Motor Company).
  • Robert R. McCormick (publisher of the Chicago Tribune).
  • John Campbell Merriam  (president of the Carnegie Institute).
  • Grayson Murphy (private banker; corporate director).
  • Thomas W. Phillips, Jr. (businessman; active in Republican Party).
  • John J. Raskob (financier; General Motors executive).
  • Col. Ira Reeves (army; former federal prohibition enforcement official).
  • Pauline Sabin  (socialite and opinion leader).
  • Charles Scribner, III (publisher).
  • Jouett Shouse (publisher and political leader).
  • Alfred P. Sloan, Jr. (president and chair of GM).
  • Captain William H. Stayton (naval officer).
  • James W. Wadsworth, Jr. (member U.S. House of Representatives).
  • Matthew Woll (vice president of AFL-CIO).

These Repeal leaders all had prominent positions in Repeal organizations.

Resources on Repeal and Repeal Leaders


A&E Television Network. The Road to Repeal. DVD video. NY: A&E Television Network, 1997.

Engdahl, S. (Ed.) Amendments XVIII and XXI: Prohibition and Repeal. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2009.

Gillett, R.H., and Holmes, J.H. Repeal of the Prohibition Amendment. NY: Wilson, 1923.

Kyvig, D.E. Repealing National Prohibition. Kent, OH: Kent State U. Press, 2000.

Lucas, E. The Eighteenth and Twenty-First Amendments. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1998.

Munger, M., and Schaller, T.. The Prohibition-Repeal amendments. Pub. Choice, 1997, 90(1-4), 139-163.

Pickett, D. Then and Now: The Truth about Prohibition and Repeal. Columbus, OH: Sch Coll Serv, 1952.

Pollard, J.P. The Road to Repeal. NY: Brentano’s, 1932.

Rose, K.D. American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition. NY: New York U. Press, 1996.

Root, G.C. Women and Repeal. NY: Harper, 1934.

Schrad, M.L. Constitutional Blemishes: American Alcohol Prohibition and Repeal as Policy Punctuation. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2007.

Severen, B. The End of the Roaring Twenties: Prohibition and Repeal. NY: J. Messner, 1969. (Juvenile)

Shay, G., et al. Amendment 18, Prohibition; Amendment 21, Repeal of Prohibition. DVD video. Lawrenceville, NJ: Cambridge Educational, 2004.

In-Depth Research

Consult a librarian to obtain a copy or to access a thesis on-line.

Allen, C.  The Repeal of Prohibition in Mississippi. Thesis. U. Mississippi, 1992.

Gasper, L. The Movement for Repeal of National Prohibition, 1926-1933. Thesis. Bowling Green State U., 1949.

Graymont, B. Prohibition and Repeal. Thesis. U. Chicago, 1959.

Leeman, R.  Explicating the Rhetoric of Prohibition and Repeal. Thesis. U. Maryland, 1982.

Schaller, T.  Institutional Design, Institutional Choice, and the Case of Prohibition-Repeal. Thesis. Yale U., 1997.

Weise, C.  The Political Economy of Prohibition and Repeal. Thesis. Auburn U., 1998.