The president of the WCTU had shouted before Congress that she spoke for all American women. That was in an effort to enhance her political power.
The Women’s Moderation Union promoted individual responsibility and accountability for moderate drinking. It opposed the increasing intrusion of government into the private lives and liberties. Members believed that illegal behaviors should be punished. But they thought merely drinking alcohol shouldn’t be illegal.
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But the libertarian views of the Women’s Moderation Union didn’t motivate large numbers of to join the group. Yet Gross’ group gave visibility to many women who opposed Prohibition.
The Women’s Moderation Union, as did the WCTU and other groups, helped give voice to women who engaged in political action. This was very important to those who opposed Prohibition. People could no longer assume that all women favored Prohibition.
Many people had welcomed Prohibition. They thought it would improve life. But over time most people came to see that it was impossible to enforce it well.
So many millions of people had come to oppose it. And many were both hated it and took pride in violating and flaunting it. On the other hand, there was enormous profit to be made by those who illegally produced and sold alcohol. The large profits led to widespread corruption of police and elected officials. And Prohibition promoted organized crime, gangsterism, and violence.
Repeal Sentiment Grew
Attempting to enforce Prohibition cost two-thirds of of the entire amount of money the federal government spent on law enforcement. That did not include the enormous costs faced by state and local governments.
So Prohibition didn’t simply fail. It caused many very serious problems. People voted three to one in favor of Repeal.
Yet many people today support neo-prohibition ideas. They also strongly defend the many remains of Prohibition that continue. In fact, almost one in five US adults favor favor prohibition today.
M. Louise Gross also held leadership positions in other Repeal groups. They included the Molly Pitcher Club, the Women’s Committee for Repeal of the 18th Amendment, and the Women’s Committee for Modification of the Volstead Act,
Women’s Moderation Union
- Gross., M. M. Louise Gross papers, ca. 1898-1939.. NY: New York Pub Lib.
- Kyvig, D. Repealing National Prohibition.
- Root, G. Women and Repeal.
- Rose, K. Women and the Repeal of Prohibition.
- Torrid Talk. Time, Feb 24, 1930. Quotes from M. Louise Gross’ testimony on Prohibition before the House Judiciary Committee as head of the Women’s Moderation Union.