Nation-Wide Prohibition


Two important happenings in the year 1914 served to direct the attention of the American people to the subject of national prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicants, as it never before had been directed. The first of these was the issuance of the Imperial Ukase which established prohibition in Russia; the second was a vote on December 22 of more than a majority of the members of our own House of Representatives for the submission of a prohibition amendment to the Constitution to the vote of the states. Until the Czar abolished the imperial liquor monopoly in Russia, the United States for years had held unquestioned primacy among the great powers for its interest in the anti-alcohol movement. The embarkation of the Scandinavian countries on an era of prohibition had not attracted great attention among us; and we, although far from the state of absolute prohibition advocated by the propagandists of the movement throughout the world, regarded ourselves somewhat smugly as far in the forefront of the nations which opposed intemperance in the use of alcoholic beverages.

With the Czar’s ukase, the United States, itself in the grip of an upsurging of prohibitionist sentiment greater than had been known in the history of the country before, found opportunity to see, without making the important venture, the effect of nation-wide prohibition upon the social, political, and economic life of a great power. The interest which our country feels in the Russian venture has been fully appreciated by the editors of our periodicals and newspapers, who have strained every nerve to secure accurate and detailed information as to the changes which have been wrought in the national life of Russia.

In Russia, the problem of effective prohibition was much simpler than it would be with us. There, where the government monopolized the liquor industry, only an imperial edict was needed to make prohibition a reality. There was no confiscation of a vast amount of privately owned property to deter the Czar, and the only important problem which had to be solved was to secure additional annual revenues amounting to $500,000,000, to replace the loss of the government’s profits from manufacturing and selling liquor. There was no issue of violated states’ rights to be met, nor did there loom up any probability of numerous violations of the law by the illegal manufacture and sale of liquor, such as would be fostered by public sentiment in this country in communities which do not approve prohibition.

In Russia the problem was simple, as compared with ours; but the simplicity with which the reform was accomplished has no bearing on the effects to be produced by it. The propagandists of the movement in this country have seized upon reports already received of the good done in Russia as the leading arguments for nation-wide prohibition in the United States. For one thing, it is to be noted, according to a Reuter’s agency dispatch, that M. KharitonofF, Comptroller of the Russian Treasury, reports a jump of $14,000,000 in the monthly savings of the nation. Michael Demotrovitch Tchelisheff, former member of the Duma, who is credited widely with having done more than any one else to bring about the reform in Russia, is authority for the statement, conveyed in a Pctrograd dispatch to the Associated Press, that the people of Russia had been accustomed to consuming $15,000,000 worth of vodka a day, and that the effect of prohibition already had manifested itself definitely in decreases in petty crimes and misdemeanors, and in a general invigoration of the peasantry and lower-class population of the cities. It has been said that the war expense to Russia does not exceed the savings accruing from the enforced abstinence from vodka by her 150,000,000 people.

The Great War has had the effect of imparting to the anti-alcohol movement what is perhaps the greatest impetus it has received in all the ages. Russia is the only belligerent nation which has established actual prohibition, but France has taken an important step in that direction by enacting a law to suppress the manufacture of absinthe, which, it has been predicted, may be extended to cover vermouth and other similar beverages, and the German government has imposed restrictions on the production of beer. According to the Lokal Anzeiger, the German breweries were forbidden to use above forty per cent of their usual quantity of malt after March 1. The first steps taken in Great Britain to insure sobriety were the issuance of an appeal by Lord Kitchener to the British soldiers to forego the use of alcohol, and the publication of similar appeals throughout Great Britain, calling upon the civic population to refrain from ‘ treating ’ the enlisted men. Later, an official propaganda was launched vigorously by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Lloyd George, demanding absolute prohibition for Great Britain. He excluded moral considerations from his argument and made the issue one of practical necessity; he declared that the consumption of intoxicants by the workmen in British powder and armor factories was holding down their output to an extent that handicapped the army severely, and that it might prolong the war. A few days after the Chancellor’s first speech on the subject, King George issued an order that no intoxicants be served in any of the royal palaces.

The United States has now entered upon its second era of prohibition agitation. The first came more than fifty years ago, when Maine passed a law against the sale of whiskey. The prohibition sentiment spread perhaps as rapidly as anymovement which has gripped the thought of the country with temporary force. Between 1851, when the Maine law was enacted, and 1856, thirteen states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, and Illinois — enacted prohibition laws. This first essay in prohibition must have been regarded as a failure, for all of these states except Vermont and New Hampshire revoked their prohibition laws in favor of license laws in a comparatively short time, and the last-named states followed their example in 1903. In pointing to the indicated conclusions of the people of these states in regard to the efficacy of prohibition laws, it is proper to note the observation of President Guy Hayler, of the International Prohibition Confederation, made in his book, Prohibition Advance in All Lands :

‘ In only two instances where prohibition has been adopted by a state’s popular vote, has the law been repealed in like manner [referring to the repeal in Alabama in 1909], namely, Rhode Island and South Dakota; and in each case a drastic local-option law was carried, by means of which a large portion of each state is now under nolicense.’

It might be said in passing that the statement of Mr. Hayler offers cogent argument against the foisting of prohibition legislation upon states where popular sentiment with regard to it has not been tested. It is a fact not now seriously disputed that the thirteen states listed above — certainly the majority of them — repealed their liquor legislation because they did not regard the social or economic life of their commonwealths as improved, and because they saw no evidence that the consumption of liquor had been greatly diminished.

Sixteen states are now to be classed as ‘dry’: West Virginia, Kansas, Maine, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennesee were in this class before September 22, 1914; since that time, Virginia, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have enacted prohibition laws, and statutes restricting the manufacture and sale of liquor have been enacted in Arkansas. The prohibition forces have launched movements for prohibitive or restrictive legislation in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont.

It is the purpose of this paper to assess as authoritatively as may be done the status of the prohibition movement in the United States to-day, and, although endeavoring to confine attention to the non-controversial elements in the situation, to present some general indications as to what may be expected of the movement in the future.


The subject divides itself naturally into two main topics, — the political and the social and economic aspects of the movement. To the former, public attention has been directed repeatedly by recent happenings in Congress, among them the vote in the House on the Hobson resolution to submit a constitutional amendment; the vote on the District of Columbia appropriation bill in the Senate, where a prohibition amendment was offered; the passage of the Webb anti-shipping bill two years ago, and various speech-makings and less conspicuous incidents which have been noted at the national capital. Politically, prohibition undoubtedly is one of the most powerful issues in the minds of the American people. To back up that statement, we have the expert opinion of the gentlemen of the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate, who are now popularly elected, and are therefore far more agile than formerly in adapting their votes to information secured through keeping the ‘ear to the ground.’ Faces of some of these legislators blanched last fall at the realization that they were to be forced upon record on this issue; the timorous among them shirked the test, if any plausible pretext was found; and many of the strong cast their vote with foreboding. Congress perhaps was keyed to as fine a pitch of representative spirit in its votes on the liquor issue as at any time in the history of the government; for then most vigorously did the members seek to attune their attitude to the wishes of the majority of their constituents, and then most surely were the wishes of the people of the country registered in roll-calls of the House and Senate.

The fight in the House on the Hobson resolution had many remarkable aspects. For one thing, Representative Hobson, in closing the argument for the resolution, served notice on all parties that the prohibitionists would demand in 1916 the election of a president and a congress to support a constitutional amendment such as was then before the House. Mr. Hobson said: —

‘ If the Sixty-third Congress does not grant this plain right of the people for this referendum to change their organic law, to meet this mighty evil, the Sixty-fourth Congress will be likewise invoked. ... I here announce to you that the determination of the great moral, the great spiritual, the great temperance and prohibition forces of this whole nation will make this question the paramount issue in 1916, not only to gain a two-thirds majority in the two houses of Congress, but to have an administration that neither in the open nor under cover will fight this reform.’

It was generally stated in the publications which discussed the congressional fight subsequently, that the prohibitionist leader had President Wilson in mind when he served notice that the strength of his co-believers would be turned against those who fought this reform either ‘in the open or under cover.’ The President’s personal influence, where felt at all in the matter, was definitely against the passage of the Hobson resolution; but, on the other hand, it was his influence as the party leader which was largely responsible for the submission of the resolution to a vote. The President believed, with other members of his party, of different convictions regarding prohibition, that the Democratic majority in Congress ought not to bear the stigma of suppressing a test of strength on an issue of such widespread interest and importance. He therefore approved the movement first started by majorityleader Underwood in the spring of 1914, for a vote on the Hobson resolution, and in the weeks preceding the final vote, refused to approve a well-workedout plan submitted by leaders of the House for smothering the resolution in committee.

The President’s expressed views were a bulwark, however, for the opponents of the Hobson measure when the fight did come on. He had expressed himself early in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, in a letter to the Reverend Thomas B. Shannon of New Jersey, which was often quoted in the House debates. In this letter the President said: —

‘ I am in favor of local option. I am a thorough believer in local self-government, and believe that every self-governing community which constitutes a social unit should have the right to control the matter of the regulation or of the withholding of licenses.

‘But the questions involved are social and moral, and are not susceptible of being made parts of a party programme. ... I do not believe that party programmes of the highest consequence to the political life of the state and nation ought to be thrust on one side and hopelessly embarrassed for long periods together by making a political issue of a great question which is essentially non-political, non-partisan, moral, and social in its nature.’

The fact that President Wilson’s published letter was one of the oft-quoted citations in the congressional arguments did not deter Mr. Bryan from paying his respects, a short time after the vote, to those who employed the local-self-government argument. In an editorial in the Commoner, Mr. Bryan said: —

‘The discussion of the proposed national prohibition amendments has brought out a new lot of mock heroics on the subject of local self-government. Some of the “wets,” in attempting to justify their opposition to national prohibition, express great fear lest the national authority shall trample upon the “imperishable rights of local selfgovernment.” What perishable tommyrot! ’

One other high official of the Wilson Administration has been conspicuous for his attitude on prohibition. He is Mr. Josephus Daniels, the Secretary of the Navy, who has done as much, perhaps, as any other official to bring the Democratic party into favor with prohibition advocates. Mr. Daniels first brought himself into the limelight in the early days of President Wilson’s term by a series of speeches he made on the Pacific coast on the subject of prohibition. Later he issued his muchdiscussed ‘dry navy’ order. This last act is so unpopular among the officers of the navy that some serious-minded people have been impelled to declare that Secretary Daniels has impaired his usefulness as the head of the Navy Department. Undoubtedly the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of State have brought down much disapproval upon the Wilson Administration from anti-prohibition sources. But there is still room to question whether this disfavor has not been more than neutralized by the approval which they have won for the Administration in sections of the country where prohibition sentiment is predominant.

The Anti-Saloon League is the chief instrumentality through which the political power of the prohibition movement is exerted upon the national and state governments. This organization unites the efforts of various temperance organizations in each state which have espoused the cause of state-wide or nation-wide prohibition. Committed to the bringing about of a legislative enactment through political means, the League does not hesitate to employ the accustomed methods of politics. It is perhaps one of the most efficient and far-reaching organizations maintained in this country to promote an idea under legislative consideration. The AntiSaloon League maintains a national legislative headquarters at Washington. This was the directing force of the recent prohibition fights in the House and Senate. Had their ‘concerted effort’ been made for the betterment of any special interest or corporate enterprise, the prohibition promoters in Washington possibly would have been stigmatized as one of the most gigantic lobbies ever maintained in the national capital. The extent of the League’s organization is indicated by the fact that, at the last biennial convention, reports were heard from directing officials of subordinate organizations in forty-two states. Each of these state organizations is in charge of a well-paid superintendent, skilled in the ways of politicians, and thoroughly capable of holding his own with lobbyists of all sorts in political contests where the welfare of the prohibition cause is involved. The salaried officials and subordinate employees of the organization number some five hundred persons. The income of the League last year was $1,200,000.

That the League has made no secret of its determination to use its influence to defeat public men who oppose prohibition is established by the report of Superintendent McBride of the Illinois League, submitted to the biennial convention at Columbus, Ohio, in 1913, and published in the official report of that convention. In his report the Reverend Mr. McBride told how the AntiSaloon League of Illinois had put a candidate in the field against John B. Castle, a member of the Illinois legislature who had been largely responsible for the defeat of the local-option bill in that body, and had thus brought about the defeat of Castle.

Before turning from the discussion of the political side of the prohibition movement, notice should be taken, in passing at least, of the extent to which this movement is linked with the woman suffrage movement. The liquor interests were responsible for what was perhaps the first noteworthy instance in which the two movements were joined in the United States. That was in 1881, when the National Brewers’ Congress adopted a resolution opposing woman suffrage. The fact is that the relationship between the suffrage and the prohibition movements is no closer than the one of mutual interest and helpfulness which two so-called reform movements would bear to one another. It is to be observed, however, that the sections of the country in which the prohibition movement is moving forward most rapidly are for the most part identical — except for the South — with the sections in which the suffrage propaganda is spreading. This statement is borne out by the fact that in the votes in the Sixty-third Congress on suffrage and prohibition, 106 of the members of the House voted affirmatively upon both proposals. In the November elections the people of Ohio voted against suffrage at the same time that they defeated prohibition, and in Missouri the adoption of a e county unit law ’ was prevented in the same vote which was registered against woman suffrage.

The prohibitionists have hailed as a distinguished victory the outcome of the fight in Congress, and of the elections, in which four of the six states where the issue was made adopted prohibition. The movement’s propagandists have girded up their loins for a renewal of the fight in Congress, with protestations of increased confidence that the sentiment for prohibition is far short of the crest of its wave. It is inevitable that they will be heard from in the national conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties; for its leaders have announced that they will insist upon the nomination of candidates friendly to the movement, and newspaper reports have stated that an effective organization already has been formed to look after the election of delegates to these conventions. In many quarters there is an expectancy that Colonel Roosevelt, if he participates in the next national election, either as a candidate or as the mentor of a political party, will stand upon the joint issue of suffrage and prohibition.


An assessment of the prohibition movement should give a large measure of attention to its social and economic aspect s, even to the neglect, if need be, of the political side. The latter is but a surface evidence of the true strength of the movement, which may or may not be merely superficial in character. President Wilson’s observations that ‘government is merely an attempt to express the conscience of everybody, the average conscience of the nation,’ and that if the government is going faster than the public conscience it will soon have to pull up, is applicable to all reform movements and to the prohibition movement as well. The final decision of the fight, for national prohibition will not be when the Congress by a two-thirds vote submits a constitutional amendment to the states, but rather when the states t hemselves pass upon the proposed amendment. Thus it is certain that the political and legislative attainments of the prohibitionists, in the last analysis, will be measured up or measured down to coincide with the more basic interests of the people of the country.

To one attempting to appraise the movement, perhaps the first thought that arises is with regard to the influence that prohibition has had upon the social development of the people in the states and local-option units where prohibition laws have been ratified. One would want to know its effect upon the consumption of liquor, and consequently upon literacy, sobriety, conduct, physical efficiency, divorce, the savings of the people, and their industrial development. One would want to know something about the personnel of the leadership of the movement, and to judge whether the men preaching its propaganda may be regarded as representative Americans. The necessity immediately arises for differentiating between prohibition in states and other political units, and nation-wide prohibition; for until the present time the former has accomplished, at best, only a curtailment of the use of liquor, whereas nation-wide prohibition offers the possibility of suppressing its use.

Statistics as to the consumption of intoxicants do not lend strength to prohibitionists’ arguments, and in these arguments due explanations are offered of the figures in the annual reports of the Internal Revenue Bureau and the Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce. The records show that although eight states and numerous smaller units have gone ‘dry’ since 1907, the consumption of liquors of all sorts has increased. The consumption of liquors manufactured in this country and imported amounted to 2,020,136,809 gallons in 1907. This consumption was decreased nearly 14,000,000 gallons in 1908, and 70,000,000 gallons in 1909. These decreases doubtless should be attributed in part at least to the financial depression which was upon the country in that period, for, starting with the following year, the number of gallons consumed has increased until in the year just closed it was 2,252,272,765. The per capita consumption has not increased so rapidly as these enormous totals would seem to indicate. In fact, the per capita consumption, according to figures given in the statistical abstract of the Department of Commerce, is now less than in 1907, when the present prohibition lavrs vrere enacted, and in only two years since that time has the per capita consumption reached the point of 1907. For that year, the figure given was 22.79 gallons. In the following year it was 22.22 gallons. In 1914, it was 22.50 gallons. It is interesting to note in this connection that the average consumption of malt liquors is about twelve times that of spirituous liquors.

The foregoing data concerning the consumption of liquor cover only that which was sold in accordance with the laws, and it is pertinent to quote here the following excerpt from the last report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue: —

‘Bootlegging is principally carried on in the states operating under local prohibition laws, and appears to be one of the hardest propositions that revenue officers are called upon to face. ... As the various states vote ‘ dry,’ the operations of the bootlegger grow larger. . . . Illicit distilling, during the past fiscal year, increased slightly over the preceding year.’

It is evident, according to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue’s belief, that the disregard of law is one of the prices which prohibition states have to pay for the benefit of the legislation. This opinion is concurred in by President-emeritus Eliot of Harvard University, who said several years ago in a speech on prohibition, ‘The effort to enforce it during forty years past has had some unlooked-for effects upon public respect for courts, judicial procedure, oaths and law, legislatures and public servants.’

Representative Underwood of Alabama, in a speech in the House on the Hobson resolution last December, invoked the census statistics to support his contention that the social benefits claimed for prohibition have failed to materialize in the dry states. Mr. Underwood utilized Kansas, where prohibition has been in force for many years, as the example par excellence of a state where prohibition has failed to ‘make good.’ He cited the census bulletin on mortality statistics for 1911, to show that the average death rate by violence, exclusive of suicide, for cities investigated in twenty-nine states in which liquor was sold lawfully, was lower than that of Kansas, while in only three of the states investigated was it higher. From the same source Mr. Underwood gleaned authority for the statement that of thirty-eight states investigated, twenty states where liquor is sold show a lower average death rate from suicide than does Kansas, while eleven show a higher death rate. From the census bulletin on marriage and divorce, Mr. Underwood cited figures showing that twenty-seven states in which liquor is lawfully sold have a lower divorce rate than Kansas, and that only thirteen states in which liquor is lawfully sold have a higher rate.

In the same census bulletin, figures were obtained showing that in the period from 1887 to 1906 the State of Kansas granted more divorces on account of drunkenness of the husband than any one of the twenty-five states in which liquor was sold lawfully.

The annual report of the Comptroller of the Currency gives statistics as to the average savings of individual depositors in savings banks of the United States in 1913. Mr. Underwood examined this report again with a view of ascertaining where Kansas would stand in the table of comparison, and he found that in twenty-seven states in which liquor is sold, the average savings for each depositor in 1913 were more than in Kansas, while in only nine states was the average lower than that of Kansas. Four prohibition states, he found, showed a higher average than Kansas, and four a lower average. Mr. Underwood then turned his attention to the matter of church-membership, desiring to find how Kansas stood in the proportion of its population which were church members, as compared to other states. From a report made by the Bureau of the Census on a religious-body investigation conducted in 1906, Mr. Underwood found basis for the statement that only four states out of the fortynine investigated had a proportion of church members smaller than that of Kansas, and that two of these states, Wyoming and Oregon, were states in which liquor was sold, and the other two, West Virginia and Oklahoma, were prohibition states. Thirty-eight states in which liquor was sold had a larger percentage of church members than had Kansas.

The evidence accumulated by the census statisticians, however, is not all on the side of the anti-prohibitionists. A recent compilation of the statistics relating to pauperism shows that the percentage of impoverished population in the prohibition states is remarkably smaller than that in the licensed states. Based on the 1910 census, the compilation shows that in all of the prohibition states with the exception of Virginia and Maine, the number of paupers for 100,000 population is below 67, while the number for the same units in the license states averages 125. The number in Virginia is 81.5, and that in Maine is 127.3, but in the other prohibition states it is far smaller.

The Anti-Saloon League Year Book for 1914 contains a set of tables dealing with the liquor problem and insanity. The nine states which had prohibition at the time the Year Book was published had an average of 118.8 insane persons in hospitals enumerated for each 100,000 of population. The percentage was much larger in the states which were classed as partially licensed states; and in the states in which less than 50 per cent of the population live in territory in which the sale of liquor is prohibited, the average was approximately 250. Another compilation in the Anti-Saloon League Year Book, based upon the census report for 1910, as to the number of sentenced prisoners in state penal institutions, sets forth that there were only 124.1 such prisoners for each 100,000 of population in nine prohibition states, while in ten states in which less than 25 per cent of the population live under prohibition laws, the number is 130.3 for each 100,000 of population. Branching off into the statistics concerning literacy, the AntiSaloon League Year Book succeeds in placing the nine prohibition states high up in the column. It finds that the prohibition states had 75.6 per cent of the children of school age enrolled as pupils, while the average percentage for the states in which less than 50 per cent of the people live under prohibition laws is less than 72 per cent. A fifth set of tables arranged under the heading, ‘Race Suicide in its Relation to Prohibition and License,’ presents the number of persons to every 100 families in the different states. The tables set forth that the average family is somewhat larger, at least by a small fraction of an individual, in the prohibition states than in the license states. It will be seen therefore that the census figures furnish no conclusive evidence either for or against prohibition as the instrumentality of social reform.

Importance attaches to the results of an investigation made recently by forty-three life-insurance companies of the United States and Canada as to the effect of the use of alcohol in shortening life. The actuary in charge of this investigation, Mr. Arthur Hunter, reported last December at a meeting of the Association of Life Insurance Presidents in New York, that he had examined the record of 2,000,000 lives for a period of twenty-five years. He reported that among saloon proprietors, whether they tended bar or not, the rate of mortality was 70 per cent above normal; that among men who admitted that they had taken alcohol occasionally in excess at some period in their lives, it was 50 per cent above normal; and that among men, formerly intemperate, who had not used alcohol excessively for at least two years before they applied for life-insurance policies it was 30 per cent above normal.

Perhaps the most important new support that has come to the prohibition movement in recent years has come through its assimilation of the great American doctrine of mental and physical efficiency. This war against waste has had the effect of steeling the hearts of thousands of employers against the use of liquor by themselves or their employees during work hours, and to any extent which may have an appreciable influence upon the efficiency of the workmen. In the forefront of this movement are the managements of the big corporations. According to a special article in the Technical World Magazine for January, drinking now results in prompt dismissal for an employee of the International Harvester Company, United States Steel Corporat ion, Standard Oil Company, the Edison Company, and a thousand other American firms of the first rank, not to mention the railroads, which have long maintained strict rides in regard to drinking among employees. That periodical, in the course of a discussion of the attitude of the corporations of the country toward the use of liquor by employees, made this observation: —

‘If America becomes liquor-free in the next generation, as some industrial leaders predict, it will probably be because of the drastic action of our industries, which cannot stand by and see large possible profits swallowed up by alcoholism/

This movement by big corporations first gained prominence in 1890, when President Corbin of the Reading Railroad issued an order for the discharge of all employees who frequented drinking places, and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad issued a circular stating that it would not employ men addicted to intoxicants.

Something should be said in this connection as to the changes which are observable in the personnel of the leadership of the movement in these recent years in which prohibition has taken on the proportion of a national issue. The gathering strength of the movement is to be attributed in a large measure to the new type of men who have allied themselves with it. These are the men who bring with them strong convictions gained from the doctrine of mental efficiency. The arguments which they offer are seen to be increasingly unlike the fanatical creations of sentiment which formerly had so large a place in the prohibition propaganda.

Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi is one of the proponents of prohibition who should be placed in this classification. In a speech in the Senate in January, which he prefaced with the remark, ‘I love a toddy almost as well as Daniel Webster or Henry Clay ever did/ he had this to say: —

41 am willing to vote for this proposition outside of the fact that Mississippi wants me to vote for it, because I have come to the conclusion — and I have come to it after much standing on the other side — that in some respects I was wrong about it, because it has done some good. It has not been a panacea; it has not brought about the millennium; it has not abolished drunkenness; it has not decreased crime to any marked extent; it has not, of course, kept lunatics out of the lunatic asylum; it has not done any sort of impossible things that only extremists expected from it; but it has done a good deal of good, and I know that while liquor may do men of temperate temperaments some harm and does do men of intemperate temperaments a great deal of harm, it never did me or anybody else in the long run any good worth contending for.’

A study of the literature of the prohibitionist propaganda brings one fact impressively to the attention of the student of economics, that it is a propaganda without scientifically compiled statistics as to some of the most important facts at issue. One of the first questions asked by the economist in studying the prohibition movement is as to the monetary gain or loss to the country which would result from nation-wide prohibition. This information was available in Russia, where there was a government monopoly, but in the United States, the federal departments have not seen fit to make an inquiry into the amount annually expended by the people in the purchase of alcoholic beverages. Estimates of the prohibitionists vary from $1,500,000,000 to $2,000,000,000, but it is frankly admitted that these estimates were obtained by the roughest sort of approximations. Some time ago, when I asked the manager of the national legislative headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League in Washington for his estimate, he gave me $1,750,000,000, which he said he had arrived at by assuming the average business done by a retail liquor dealer at $25 a day, multiplying this by the number of business days in a year, and multiplying the product by the number of retail liquor dealers paying taxes to the Internal Revenue Bureau. This estimate, if accurate as to the details covered, would fall far short of the real expenditures of the country, for it would not include the sales of establishments operated in violation of the law, or the purchases for consumption made directly from the wholesaler by mail orders.

A better method of arriving at an estimate would be through a computation based upon the number of gallons of intoxicants annually consumed and the approximate price per gallon paid by the ultimate purchaser, — a method suggested by the Anti-Saloon League Year Book for 1910. The total quantity of liquor consumed in the fiscal year 1914, according to the statistical abstract of the Department of Commerce, was 2,252,272,765 gallons. Of this, 2,053,457,082 gallons ware malt liquors; 52,418,430 gallons were wine; and 146,397,253 gallons were distilled spirits. Accurate information is not available as to the percentage of this amount which was sold over saloon counters or sent direct to the consumer in quantities of a gallon or more. A conservative estimate of the price paid for liquor by the gallon is one dollar, but the average price paid in single drinks must be placed much higher, for there are sixteen drinks to the gallon, according to the estimate universally accepted among liquor dealers, and the price paid per drink is approximately ten cents. Several authorities on the liquor industry which I have consulted agree that $1.25 would be a low estimate to place on the consumers’ price for distilled spirits; that 40 cents a gallon would be a fair estimate of the price of beer. The statistical abstract gives 61 cents a gallon as the average price of distilled wine in casks. After consulting the various official authorities, I have fixed 75 cents a gallon as the retail price of domestic wines for the purpose of this estimate, and $1.25 as the price of imported wines. These figures would result in an estimate that the annual expenditure for distilled spirits is approximately $200,000,000; for beer and malt liquors, $800,000,000; for domestic wines, $40,000,000; and for imported wines, $10,000,000. The sum total would be $1,050,000,000.

Turn now to the economic losses involved in prohibiting the importation and manufacture and sale of liquors. The Federal Government collected $226,200,000 in taxes on liquor through the Internal Revenue Bureau in the fiscal year 1914, and $19,200,000 through the customs, making a total of $245,400,000 of federal revenues on liquors. In the same year the total receipts of the government from ordinary sources was $734,673,166. The revenue derived by the states through state licenses and taxes collected by counties and incorporated places amounted to $79,600,000, according to figures furnished the Ways and Means Committee of the House by the Census Bureau.

Prohibition, it will be seen, would necessitate the reorganization of the fiscal system of the Federal Government and would force Congress to find new sources of taxation. The tax on incomes would have to be extended far beyond its present rates in order to make good the deficit, and at the same time the government would be forced into levying more heavily upon the necessities of life.

It is possible, however, that the matter of reorganizing the state and national systems of taxation would not be the most important economic result of prohibition. There would come in for consideration the number of wageearners thrown out of employment; the amount of invested capital both in manufacturing plants and in distributing establishments which would be rendered useless; the annual market for agricultural products w’hich wrould be destroyed; the revenues from the transportation of liquors of which the railroads and express companies would be deprived; and the effect upon allied trades and manufactures. Statistics are readily obtainable on some of these points. According to the census of 1010, there were 2,027 breweries and distilleries in operation in the United States, employing 61,009 wage-earners, and turning out products valued at $589,504,000. According to the report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue for the last fiscal year, there were 220,293 retail liquor dealers, 19,312 wholesalers, and 2,345 rectifiers. The total capital invested in the liquor industry was $771,516,000, and it is estimated by Representative Goeke of Ohio that the sums invested in retail establishments would bring the total up to $1,294,583,486.

The proponents of the prohibition movement have offered no plan for meeting this problem of confiscation of property, or for furnishing the additional revenues which woidd be demanded. It is not to be believed however, that the American people ever will by constitutional amendment prohibit both the manufacture and t he sale of liquors without providing adequate compensation for those whose property would be destroyed. Although this subject has been neglected in the discourses of the prohibitionists in Congress and in the state campaigns, there are evidences that its importance is being realized; among which may be mentioned the action of the City Commission of San Francisco, California, in appropriating $100,000,000 for buying and discontinuing the operation of saloons; and of the Iowa Federation of Labor in demanding that the State of Iowa, if a prohibition law were passed, should pay all brewery workers and allied tradesmen the union scale of wages until they could get new jobs.

The importance of the effect of liquor on the economic life of the wageearners of the country may be minimized by the prohibitionists with figures as to labor’s share in the manufacture of liquors, as compared with that in other industries. The current AntiSaloon League Year Book alleges that a smaller proportion of running expenses is paid to labor in the manufacture of malt and distilled liquors and patent medicines, than in any other industry in the United States. According to the advertisement of the Year Book, it gives ‘ the cold facts as to how much more in proportion is paid by other United States industries to labor than the liquor industry pays to labor; how much more the liquor industry pays for salaries to its officials than other industries do; how much more the liquor industry pays out for socalled miscellaneous expenses than other industries do.’ One other item should be mentioned in relation to the economic side of the prohibition movement, — the market which the liquor industry furnishes for agricultural products. It is estimated that the value of grain, molasses, fruit, and so-called secondary products of agriculture used in the manufacture of liquors in 1913 was $113,884,000.


I have refrained thus far from making any detailed reference to the extent to which the violation of the basic plan of our government is involved in the withdrawal from the states of the right to solve the liquor problem for themselves. It has been contended that the states are powerless in the matter because of their inability to prohibit shipments across their lines, and that therefore nation-wide prohibition is necessary in order that each state might have its own will with regard to the use of liquor within its boundaries. To my mind the latter contention might have been made one of the most forceful claims of the advocates of the constitutional amendment, had it not been for the enactment of the Webb anti-shipping bill. That law, according to the highest interpretations yet given it by the courts, removes from liquor shipments the protection which they had formerly enjoyed under the interstate commerce laws. With the invocation of this law by the states, through additional stringent legislation, the way is opened for a new test of state-wide prohibition. The right of the State of West Virginia to prevent the shipment into its territory of liquor sold through advertisement circulated therein was sustained in a decision handed down by Judge Woods of the United States Circuit Court for the Fourth Circuit, sitting at Richmond, Virginia, January 14, 1915. That decision marks a new era in the history of state-wide prohibition. Certainly it follows from it that national prohibition is no longer necessary in order that there may be actual state-wide prohibition. Realizing the new power which is in their hands, the states of North Carolina and South Carolina now have given consideration to additional prohibition legislation designed to utilize it.

It has been said that no law is stronger than the sentiment of the jury in the jury-box. It is certain that juries inevitably will be lax in the enforcement of laws not sustained by community sentiment. It would be inexpedient to foist prohibition upon states which did not want it, for to do so would force these states to pay the economic price of prohibition without gaining the benefits. The same criticism applies in small measure to state prohibition and local option, but in this case the difficulties are minimized because the areas are smaller, the diversification of public sentiment is less extended, and the facilities for securing a more even expression of the popular will are more efficient. Certainly, with the enactment of the Webb law, state-wide prohibition has become the most practicable method of regulating the sale and use of liquor. It is true that the states are but the nation in little, and that often their prohibition laws fail utterly to respond to local sentiment; but on the other hand it seems to me to have been demonstrated that this method is to be preferred equally to nation-wide prohibition and to a universal local option, which at best would be a patchwork and would be too easily changed by Hurries in popular sentiment.