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.

Leadership

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

Alfred Sloan, Jr., who headed General Motors as president and chairman for over a quarter of a century.

Sewell Avery, who was president of Montgomery Ward and U.S. Gypsum.

Cleveland Dodge, who was vice-president of Phelps-Dodge, a major copper producer. He was also a senior executive and director of some of its subsidiary companies.

Wallace Alexander, who owned sugarcane plantations and refineries in Hawaii. He was vice-president of Matson Navigation Company and the Honolulu Oil Corporation. And also he was a director of Alexander and Baldwin, a major real estate company.

General Membership

the crusaders
William Faulkner

General membership of the organization 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. However, 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 without the problems caused by Prohibition. Because of this, they were criticized by prohibitionists as “Cork-screw aiders.”

Repeal

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

Nevertheless, many people and groups today support neo-prohibition ideas. And they also strongly defend the many remainders of Prohibition that continue.

Resources on The Crusaders:

  • Hines, Jr., T. Mississippi and the repeal of Prohibition, J Miss Hist, Jan, 1962, 16.
  • Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition. Chicago: U Chicago Press, 1979.
  • 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.
  • National Affairs: Codman to Crusaders. Time, Dec 29, 1930, Reported appointment of Julian Codman as paid director of The Crusaders.