Prominent Republican “wets” (supporters of Repeal) formed the Republican Citizens Committee Against National Prohibition. It was in December of 1931. Founders included Henry B. Joy, Lammot Du Pont II, Joseph H. Choate, Jr., Raymond Pitcairn, Thomas W. Phillips, and Robert Cassaft.
Its efforts included sending letters to those who had contributed money to the most recent presidential campaign. The letters stating that if the party didn’t support Repeal it couldn’t win the upcoming race.
Historian David Kyvig wrote about members of the Committee. They “displayed considerable anguish at having to choose between their party and a satisfactory policy on what they considered the dominant issue of the campaign.”1
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Members of the Committee and other Republican wets made a concerted effort. Yet the party took no clear position on it. Instead, it called for this.
A proposed amendment the provision of which, while retaining in the Federal Government power to preserve the gains already made in dealing with the evils inherent in the liquor traffic, shall allow States to deal with the problem as their citizens may determine, but subject always to the power of the Federal Government to protect those States where Prohibition may exist and safeguard our citizens everywhere from the return of the saloon and attendant abuses.2
It may have been more focused on principle than pragmatism. Or it may have failed to recognize the degree to which most Americans wanted Repeal.
Clearly, National Prohibition had failed. Even worse, it had created many very serious problems. So voters called for Repeal three to one. It occurred at the end of 1933.
Prohibition’s failure was abysmal. Yet many people and groups today support neo-prohibitionist ideas. And they defend the many remains of Prohibition that exist today. Almost one of every five adults in the US now supports prohibition.
Republican Citizens Committee Against National Prohibition
1. Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition, ch 9 (“Repeal!”).
2. Prohibition: 142 words. Time, July 11, 1932.