The Crusaders (Influential Prohibition Repeal Group)

Business leader Fred G. Clark founded The Crusaders in 1929.

National Prohibition (1920-1933) was causing many very serious problems. They included bootlegging, gangerstism, and rampant violence.

the crusaders
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Fred Clark was appalled at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago. Rivalry among competing bootlegging gangsters led to that horrible massacre.

The group didn’t work at the national political level. Instead, the Crusaders chose to devote their efforts at the local level across the country.

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Fred Clark served as the first commander in chief of the Crusaders. Its executive board consisted of fifty major leaders. They included these.

Alfred Sloan, Jr. Headed General Motors as president and chairman. Did so for over a quarter century.

Sewell Avery. President of Montgomery Ward. Also U.S. Gypsum.

Cleveland Dodge. Vice-president of Phelps-Dodge. (Major copper producer.) Also a  director of some of its subsidiaries.

Wallace Alexander. Owned sugarcane plantations and refineries in Hawaii. Vice-president of Matson Navigation and the Honolulu Oil Corp. Also a director of Alexander and Baldwin, a major real estate company.

General Membership

the crusaders
William Faulkner

General membership of the group consisted largely of men under the age of thirty. The writer William Faulkner served on the executive committee of the Mississippi chapter.

The group did not include women. But it worked closely with the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR).

The Crusaders described themselves as “temperance men.” They would eliminate alcohol abuse. Yet without the problems caused by Prohibition. Because of this, they were criticized by prohibitionists as “Cork-screw aiders.”


National Prohibition created many serious problems. So voters approved Repeal by three to one. It began on December 5, 1933.

Yet many people and groups today support neo-prohibition ideas. And they also strongly defend the many remainders of Prohibition that continue. And almost one in five US adults favor prohibition now.

The Crusaders

    • Hines, Jr., T. Mississippi and the repeal of Prohibition, J Miss Hist, 16.
    • Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition.
    • 1931 Speakeasy Map of Cleveland. Cleveland, OH: The Crusaders, 1931.
    • Prohibition: United wets, Time, Nov 7, 1932, p. 16.
    • Prohibition: Crusade. Time, Oct 7, 1930.
    • Codman to Crusaders. Time, Dec 29, 1930. Julian Codman as paid head of The Crusaders.