Repeal Groups (Repeal Organizations): Opposed Prohibition

Repeal groups became a mighty force in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They wanted to repeal National Prohibition. Here’s the story.

Prohibition Failed

The Noble Experiment of Prohibition (1920-1933) failed completely. It had promised a society with increased productivity. With a low crime rate. Greater morality. Enhanced health. It did none of these. To the contrary, it caused serious problems. They included these.

    • The growth of organized crime.
    • Widespread gangsterism.
    • Death from tainted bootleg alcohol.
    • Increased violence and murder.
    • Law enforcement corruption.
    • Reduced tax revenue.
    • Political corruption.
    • Decreased respect for law.
    • Rise of speakeasies.
    • Job loss.
    • Glorification of gangsters.
    • Popularization of KKK. (It defended Prohibition.)
    • Increase in illegal drug use.
    • Stigmatization of alcoholism.
    • Widespread hypocrisy.
    • Overworked criminal justice system.
repeal groups
H.L. Mencken

Millions of Americans became disillusioned. Five years into Prohibition, journalist H.L. Mencken gave his view. “There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. Not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.”

The strong support given to prohibition by many business leaders had done much to maintain support for Prohibition. But as time passed more and more business leaders became disillusioned. They called for Repeal.

Major Repeal Groups

This contributed to a growth of repeal groups. Their membership grew quickly. So did their impact. The better-known groups included these.

Also there were many local and state repeal groups. As in nation-wide groups, local and state repeal groups often drew their membership from specific affinity groups. They included women, lawyers, Republicans, labor unions, etc.

Women had been crucial in bringing about Prohibition. They thought it would protect children and the family. Many women saw harm to the family and children caused by Prohibition. So they then became a mighty force demanding Repeal. And now they had the right to vote.

The repeal groups and their members were successful. The U.S. repealed National Prohibition on December 5, 1933.

Prohibition failed dismally. It caused serious problems. Yet nearly one in five Americans today supports making drinking illegal. Yet not even Prohibition didn’t prohibit drinking. Many millions more support neo-prohibition. They tend to defend the many relics of Prohibition that continue to exist.

Resources on Repeal Groups