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DRCNet Library | Schaffer Library | Historical Research | Repealing National Prohibition
Repealing National Prohibition
by David Kyvig
Copyright 1979 by the University of Chicago
Chapter 5 - Thirsting After Righteousness
"This prohibition thing is getting worse every day. It cannot go on this way or the whole government will be disgraced." So wrote United States senator James W. Wadsworth to a friend in March 1926.1 By the time the Eighteenth Amendment had been in effect for a half decade, a large and growing number of Americans appeared to be disregarding the liquor ban. Many citizens who ignored the preratification debate had now seen enough to form a firm opinion on the law's benefits and drawbacks. While some were convinced that national prohibition helped improve social, economic, and moral conditions in the United States, others concluded, like the Republican senior senator from New York, that the reform was a disaster. Several extremely wealthy prohibition critics, regarding the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment as the best available agent for attacking the law, tried to improve its performance by reorganizing the association and providing it with more funds. Their concerns about national prohibition gave the AAPA its final form, won the association other followers, and did much to set the tone and terms of the battle over retaining or rescinding the antiliquor amendment.
The day national prohibition took effect in 1920, a federal official directly responsible for overseeing it predicted that the law would bring an end to the liquor traffic in six years.' For the fiscal year ending June 30, 1926, however, federal agents made approximately 160,000 seizures of fermenting or distilling equipment and confiscated almost thirty-eight million gallons of illegal beer, wine, and spirits. Furthermore, thirty-seven thousand persons were convicted of violating the Volstead Act in fiscal 1926, compared to twenty two thousand during the law's first eighteen months of operation. Every available index registered growing rates of violation rather than an increasingly effective law, despite Congress's more than doubling its initial prohibition enforcement appropriation by 1926.1 While many Americans observed the liquor ban, of course, many others broke the law without being apprehended. The rising arrest rate provided a crude reflection of spreading disdain for national prohibition and a parallel growth of alarm on the part of many citizens.
This was "prohibition at its worst," wrote Irving Fisher, a prominent Yale monetary theorist who would become even better known for announcing in early October 1929, "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."' Fisher, an ardent prohibitionist, argued that even with admitted violations the current state of affairs represented a vast improvement over the days prior to the Eighteenth Amendment. Total consumption of alcohol was, Fisher estimated, no more than 10 to 16 percent of the preprohibition rate; arrests of youths for drunkenness had fallen by two-thirds; and the national death rate had declined 10 percent. Meanwhile, public health showed definite improvement; national income had increased by $6 billion, due to prohibition; and because workers' efficiency was not being reduced by drinking, real wages were up 28 percent since 1919. Once the law was property enforced and people accepted it as a permanent fixture, the economist predicted, there would be a further improvement of conditions.'
Not everyone accepted Fisher's statistics or his cheerful assessment. Many attributed the economic and social progress of the twenties to other causes. Among those who disagreed with Fisher were several men who by the middle of the decade were moving to take the lead in the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment. Their ideas are well worth examining in some detail. Their expressed opinions provide the best evidence of the thinking of those most committed to tearing down the Eighteenth Amendment.
Those individuals who would eventually dominate the AAPA and the repeal crusade became actively involved in antiprohibition activities in the mid twenties because of awakening fears for the health, safety, and righteousness of their society. National prohibition appeared to them to be causing rising crime, lost respect for all law, a breakdown in morality, especially among the young, and corruption in government. No doubt some conditions they attributed to prohibition stemmed from unrelated developments in a rapidly changing society, but to them this one law seemed the principal difficulty.
Beneath their immediate worries about social instability and decay ran another concern. Like William Stayton, most felt deeply threatened by the federal government's growing power during the years of progressive reform. They expressed fear at the loss of local control over what they believed to be essentially community matters, such as the establishment of standards of acceptable behavior. What remained unspoken was crucial: since in many cases they themselves possessed great local influence, they would lose personally if decision-making shifted to the national level. Some certainly worried that increased government regulation of business would follow. They upheld laissez faire capitalism as a philosophical ideal and a practical explanation for social progress and personal success. Federal controls could, they feared, affect their profits and practices and would be difficult for individual companies to influence. Furthermore, growth of federal power carried with it the probability of larger government budgets, the burden of which they would likely be expected to bear. Already, national prohibition was costing a great deal in enforcement expenses and lost tax revenues. Men comfortable with past governmental arrangements came to see prohibition as detrimental in itself and, if permitted to stand, the precursor of other dreadful changes.
In a letter to a Wisconsin newspaper editor who belonged to the AAPA, Captain Stayton recorded reactions he encountered during an April 1926 Detroit meeting with "a group of very serious businessmen, every one of whom had been dry and had contributed to the Anti-Saloon League, and who had originally believed in National Prohibition." One manufacturer in the group had asserted, "The people are not very much interested in the question of wet and dry, but they have become tremendously interested in the question of the form of government under which they shall live. They realize that prohibition is not a real disease, but merely a symptom of a very great and deep-seated disease-the disease of plutocracy, of centralization of government from Washington in public affairs that extends now into the home and to the dinner table." The worried speaker concluded by exclaiming, "If we have five years more of this curse, there will be fighting in the streets of American cities. People will not submit much longer to the impositions to which they are now being subjected." To his amazement, Stayton wrote, not one man had dissented, but rather "the ominous nodding of heads was unanimous."'
Detroit autoworkers probably did not share the perceptions of these executives regardless of how much they disliked prohibition. However, business and professional people with whom Stayton had contact often did. Evidence of this can be readily found in the record left by several individuals prominent in the affairs of the AAPA.
Henry Bourne Joy, a retired Packard Motor Company president, who knew Stayton from having served as vice-president of the Navy League, may have been among the Detroit group the captain reported meeting. Joy and his wife had once belonged to the Anti-Saloon League. Appalled by social conditions which they attributed to saloons, they had contributed to and actively supported the movement for national prohibition. After the Eighteenth Amendment took effect, however, Joy gradually lost faith in the reform. He told an old school friend that he had discovered his servants making excellent wine and beer for the entire household except himself and Mrs. Joy. He was shocked further to learn of widespread drinking in the surrounding community. By 1925 Joy decided that prohibition was unenforceable, since perhaps half the population desired to drink. The evils spawned by the law-the drinking of poor quality and often harmful liquor, crime, social antagonisms, and burdensome taxes-far exceeded its benefits. I
Privately Joy confided, "I made a mistake. I was stupidly wrong."' The same year Joy wrote in the North American Review that "America must open its eyes and recognize that human nature cannot be changed by legal enactment. " Those who had voted for prohibition must realize, he said, that the law was ineffective, that liquor was available everywhere, and that vast spending on enforcement had not cut off the supply. Rampant crime and jammed courts and jails had resulted. "We might as well legislate against the natural functions of existence as to seek to continue on our present path towards a complete disregard for our laws and for the natural rights of a free people," he concluded.' Soon after his views were published, Joy began contributing to the AAPA."
Personal experiences had helped motivate Henry Joy to support the antiprohibition movement. From his home on the shores of Lake St. Clair, part of the waterway separating southeast Michigan from Ontario, he had watched efforts to halt the illegal importing of Canadian liquor. He had not complained, said Joy, when federal agents shot at smugglers attempting to land on his beach. He had objected, however, in December 1926, when federal agents in civilian dress, refusing to identify themselves until local police were called, had entered and searched his boathouse and seized eleven bottles of beer from the quarters of an aged watchman. Joy felt this sort of act did more harm and caused more resentment of government than prohibition was worth. A year later, agents had returned and, when the watchman was slow to respond to their knock, had broken down his door. In another incident nearby, a prohibition officer standing on shore had hailed a duck hunter in a small boat. Unable to hear the agent over the noise of his motor, the hunter had continued on his way. The officer had promptly shot him dead. Though a murder charge was filed, government attorneys had arranged for the case to be moved to federal court where they had won a light six-months sentence for manslaughter. " Not far from Detroit the controversial automobile search had taken place which had resulted in the Supreme Court's Carroll v. U.S. ruling, already discussed in chapter 2. Such episodes had deeply upset Joy. "The people live in fear of unlawful search of their homes and their motor cars as they travel, and unlawful shootings and killings by the officers of the Treasury Department."" Exposure to violent methods of prohibition enforcement stiffened Joy's opposition to the dry law. His donations to the AAPA increased, and before the end of 1927 he announced that he was abandoning his life-long support of the Republican party because it was upholding prohibition."
Two prominent financiers also became active in the AAPA shortly after the middle of the decade. Grayson Mallet-Prevost Murphy of New York, a West Point graduate, veteran of two wars, and a founder of the American Legion, had built a successful Wall Street investment firm and held directorships in Guaranty Trust, Anaconda, Goodyear, and Bethlehem Steel. Robert K. Cassatt of Philadelphia, the son of a president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, ran an important investment banking company. These two conservative Republicans shared opinions as to the flaws of national prohibition. Murphy told a congressional committee that World War I had accustomed him to rigid, centralized government and that therefore, at the outset, he had fully expected the liquor ban to succeed. He joined Stayton's organization after concluding that the Eighteenth Amendment was "absolutely contrary to the spirit of the rest of the Constitution" and that it led to further contrary acts by the government, such as wiretapping, bribery, and the careless shooting of innocent people by prohibition agents. Respect for the Constitution had been "materially weakened." Furthermore, said Murphy, prohibition produced much crime and furnished the underworld with a large, steady income. Finally, the law interfered with established social customs and deprived the state of an opportunity to regulate the flow of liquor. Cassatt believed, as well, that prohibition was out of place in the Constitution. It seemed to him also that prohibition was leading to infringement of hitherto constitutionally protected personal rights. As did Murphy, he felt the United States too large and the customs too varied for one national law governing personal habits. Neither man liked instability, and both came to regard prohibition as a dangerous unsettling influence on government and society."
James W. Wadsworth, Jr., a U.S. senator from New York, opposed national prohibition at a time when Henry Joy still supported it and Cassatt and Murphy had not yet become concerned. Wadsworth, in fact, had voted against the Eighteenth Amendment when it had come before the Congress, and he had since publicly endorsed the AAPA." Not until his defeat for reelection to the Senate in 1926, however, did Wadsworth take an active role in the antiprohibition organization.
Wadsworth came from a family prominent for generations in the life of the Genesee Valley, southwest of Rochester, and in the affairs of the nation. Among his ancestors he could count an original settler of Connecticut, George Washington's commissary general, a major-general in the War of 1812, and a founder of the Republican party who had run for governor of New York and, as a Civil War general, had died at the Battle of the Wilderness. Wadsworth's father, James, Sr., had managed the family's vast land holdings and had spent twenty years in Congress, serving as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture for a decade after 1896. The senator's ancestors-from great-great-grand uncle General James Wadsworth, who had opposed ratification of the federal Constitution in 1788, to his father, who in 1906 had suffered a falling out with President Theodore Roosevelt over a federal meat-inspection bill and had as a result lost his House seat had opposed the growth and concentration of governmental power. Nothing in his own secure, comfortable life had inclined Wadsworth to question, much less reject, the viewpoint with which he had been raised."
The younger James Wadsworth, born in 1877, attended fine boarding schools and Yale University with other sons of the late-nineteenth-century elite. At Yale he earned barely passing grades but was named to Walter Camp's All-American baseball team. Professor William Graham Sumner, the renowned social Darwinist, once had to admonish him for reading a newspaper in class. Nevertheless, Sumner influenced him the most, Wadsworth felt, perhaps because Sumner's view that the most talented persons would naturally rise to the top of a free society affirmed Wadsworth's opinion of himself and his peers. After marrying the daughter of Secretary of State John Hay, Wadsworth entered politics. Elected to the New York state assembly in 1904, he became his party leaders' compromise choice for Speaker the following year. Although Democrats Robert Wagner, James J. Walker, and especially Alfred E. Smith became his friends, Wadsworth remained a regular Republican who chaired the New York delegation to the 1912 national convention and kept it almost solidly for Taft. In 1914 Wadsworth won the Senate seat of retiring Elihu Root, an admired friend. Six years later, having risen to the chairmanship of the military affairs committee, the handsome, popular senator easily won reelection despite opposition from women's suffragists, the American Legion, and the AFL."
Wadsworth voted against both the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Amendments when they were before the Senate. He felt strongly that the Constitution, to him the source and guardian of cherished traditions, should be concerned only with defining and limiting the powers of government. It should not deal with matters properly left to the states, such as the suffrage, nor should it contain statute law, such as prohibition." The rights of states were to be jealously defended, and centralization of power in the federal government strenuously opposed. "I am sure," he told the National Republican Club at a 1923 Lincoln's birthday dinner, "we all dread the establishment, gradual though it may be, of a system of government in this nation which will sap the strength, initiative and sense of responsibility of the citizen and of the community in which he lives."" Wadsworth's most thorough biographer regards an "anti-statist" attitude, hostility to government intervention of any sort in domestic affairs, as the constant thread running throughout the New Yorker's career."
Wadsworth worried in advance that unhappiness with prohibition "would result in widespread contempt of law and of the Constitution itself. And if there is one thing above all others that will wreck this republic, it is contempt of the Constitution."" By the time constitutional prohibition was three years old, Wadsworth was expressing alarm over violation of the liquor ban, not because of the drinking taking place but because "it is undermining the Constitution of the United States."" At the time, he saw little that could be done to alter the Eighteenth Amendment, but he believed that it never would have been adopted had referendums been allowed such as the one in Ohio, which the Supreme Court had overruled in Hawke v. Smith. For several years the New York senator agitated for a change in the constitutional amending procedure to allow for referendums or to require state legislatures considering ratification to have been elected subsequent to the submission of proposed amendments to the states." By the mid-1920s Wadsworth had become recognized as one of the Senate's most outspoken critics of national prohibition.
In 1926 Wadsworth faced a difficult contest for reelection, one in which prohibition became the principal issue. A convincing victory, some thought, might win the senator a place on the 1928 Republican national ticket. In the same election, Alfred E. Smith sought a fourth term as governor; his chances for the Democratic presidential nomination two years later were thought to rest squarely on his ability to poll a large vote. Wadsworth and Smith held similar views on prohibition despite their allegiance to different political parties. Rumors circulated that an arrangement had been made to provide each incumbent with a weak opponent and, thereby, an easy victory. When reports of such a deal surfaced in the New York World and elsewhere, the Democrats felt obliged to protect Smith by putting up the strongest possible candidate, Judge Robert F. Wagner, who was as wet as Wadsworth. Thereupon the Anti-Saloon League and the Women's Christian Temperance Union, hoping to serve notice on both parties, put forth an independent Republican candidate, Franklin W. Christman, to draw normally Republican dry votes away from the heretic Wadsworth."
During the campaign, Wadsworth spoke out repeatedly on prohibition, even in dry upstate areas. He considered it the crucial issue, one which conscience required he discuss. Furthermore, he said, no audience let him avoid it. The senator talked of the dangers to traditional forms of government posed by a centralizing, civil-liberties threatening, personally interfering national prohibition. He also charged that the amendment produced high enforcement costs, general disregard for law, hypocrisy, and corruption." "Political and social morals are being poisoned to an extent never approached in the history of the country," Wadsworth warned."
Christman's vituperative campaign, which largely ignored Wagner's wet position while vigorously attacking Wadsworth's antiprohibition record, succeeded after a fashion. The two wet candidates polled the vast majority of votes, Wagner edging out Wadsworth by the slim margin of 116,000. Christman, whose votes came almost entirely from heavily Republican upstate counties, drew 232,000. The dry spoiler clearly cost Wadsworth the election and gave him further reason to feel that prohibition was a distorting and damaging influence in American government." An error had been committed in putting a restriction on individual behavior in the Constitution, he wrote a constituent following his defeat, "And we shall continue to suffer just so long as that 'Thou shalt not' remains in the Constitution."" Stripped of senatorial rank and sensitive about the cause of his downfall, Wadsworth joined the AAPA campaign against national prohibition. During the next seven years, Wadsworth made, by his own count, 131 speeches throughout the country on behalf of the association."
In contrast to James Wadsworth, the three du Pont brothers of Wilmington, Delaware-Pierre, Irenee, and Lammot-had never been involved in politics. Du Ponts had lived along the Brandywine nearly as long as Wadsworths had lived along the Genesee. To escape the upheavals of the French Revolution, they had moved to Delaware in 1800 and established powder mills. Pierre and his brothers belonged to the fourth American generation of du Ponts and like most of their predecessors were preoccupied with the family business. Their ancestors had achieved enough comfort and prominence to be pleased with America's political, economic, and social system. The du Pont fortune, however, would be vastly expanded through the constant striving of Pierre, his brothers, and cousins. As they prospered, they encountered increasing federal regulation of their munitions business as well as more than one antitrust suit. 'I
The du Pont brothers became so concerned about national prohibition as a threat to governmental and social arrangements they preferred that they too became deeply involved in the AAPA. Pierre, the oldest, was the shrewd businessman who did the most to build modest family wealth into an enormous fortune; his other preoccupations and cautious nature made him the last to take up the antiprohibition crusade. lr6n6e, who often acted as spokesman for his more shy and reticent brothers and who followed his older brother as Du Pont Company president in 1919, was as outspoken and aggressive on prohibition as other topics. Lammot, the youngest, served as Du Pont Company president after 1925, and his constant involvement in corporate affairs kept him from taking as full a role in the AAPA as did his retired brothers. Nevertheless, Lammot served as a figurehead chairman of the association's finance committee and made financial contributions rivaling those of Irenee and Pierre. The du Pont brothers, along with their close friend and business associate John J. Raskob, became so active in the repeal campaign that they eventually came to personify the antiprohibition association to many outsiders.
Captain Stayton had written to the du Ponts during his early search for members. Pierre expressed some sympathy with the cause but did not join. By the summer of 1922 Irenee and Lammot accepted the invitation, paying the one dollar annual dues. In November lr6n6e became a Class B sustaining member, giving ten dollars to the association. (Class A sustaining members paid fifty dollars annually.) Apart from renewing his membership each year and contributing ten dollars to the 1924 campaign fund, Irenee did nothing until autumn 1925, when he began to describe in letters to friends how concerned he had become about the prohibition situation. By early 1926 he was helping organize and finance a Delaware division of the AAPA. He not only encouraged friends and business associates to join, but offered to pay the one dollar dues for 5,000 people who wanted to enroll but could not contribute.
Irenee reacted to a Collier's article by William Allen White criticizing the antiprohibition movement by setting forth his reasons for entering the campaign so energetically.
First: It is not producing total abstinence but on the contrary is increasing the abuse of liquor, especially among young people.
Second: It is transferring an enormous revenue which could be collected by the Government in the form of a tax to the bootlegger and corrupt dry agent.
Third: It is an infringement on state rights and it is preferable that the several states govern themselves wherever possible.
Fourth: but not last, it is the opening wedge to a breaking down of our whole theory of Government by legislating through the Constitution. "
The last two reasons, so like Stayton's, may explain why Irenee originally joined the AAPA; but the first two, which he repeatedly emphasized in statements during the mid-twenties, probably had more to do with his expanded efforts at that time.
National prohibition had become "unworkable, demoralizing, and expensive," Irenee felt." Not only did drinking continue, but the agents supposedly enforcing the law were taking graft, "the cost of which is, of course, paid by the consumer of liquor." He saw the liquor distribution system as little different from one with high-priced licenses to sell liquor, except that "the license fee is paid to the corrupt agent and to the bootlegger instead of to the United States Government or state governments."" It upset Irenee that the government received no revenue from the liquor industry, while criminals were richly rewarded. "The corporations of this country are being taxed 13% of their net profits, which is substantially in lieu of the tax on liquor which should flow to the Government."" One of the few antiprohibitionists to mention the taxation implications of the prohibition law in the mid-twenties, Irenee clearly felt troubled that legitimate industries were carrying a tax burden avoided and enlarged by bootleggers.
Irenee du Pont professed that he firmly believed in temperance but that he considered national prohibition to have reversed a national trend and to have made drinking fashionable. He expressed alarm at increasing abuse of liquor, especially excessive drinking by young people." "In 1914," he wrote with some exaggeration, "we had become a temperate country; drinking in the upper classes had nearly vanished and was no longer a problem industrially. It was then almost impossible for minors to buy liquor; certainly they didn't do it." In contrast, "today it is notorious that a minor can get all the bootleg liquor he wants without regulation. Prohibition ... has driven the saloon off the sidewalk but has put it in the cellar where it is out of sight. "I' Government insistence that industrial alcohol be denatured revolted Irenee, for it meant "putting poisons into a material which is almost sure to be used somewhere as a beverage, with the resultant blinding or death of the unfortunate." He concluded that, "personally, I would rather a few habitual drunkards die of their own volition by the use of alcoholic beverages than to have one man accidentally killed by the route of denatured alcohol."" Prohibition, in sum, discredited government and distorted its purposes by involving it in matters which it should avoid. It cost a great deal in enforcement expense and lost tax revenue, while not producing temperance. Wn6e, therefore, was eager to see the liquor ban abolished.
Pierre du Pont took much longer to join the antiprohibition movement than did his brothers, Wayne and Lammot. Indeed, Pierre later recalled having at the time approved the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment. The Du Pont Company, primarily engaged in the manufacture of explosives and munitions, had for years, as a safety measure, strictly prohibited workers from using alcohol, and Pierre had thought that an end to all drinking would be for the good." After it came, however, Pierre's complete conversion propelled him into the leadership of the repeal movement.
Pierre du Pont had, in the mid-twenties, recently withdrawn from active leadership of two of America's greatest corporations and was turning his full attention to personal interests. In 1923 he stepped down as president of General Motors, having left the same post at E. I. du Pont de Nemours, Inc., four years earlier. By nature a shy man, he had put all his energies into business management. For another year he remained active in Gm affairs, and until 1928 he stayed on as chairman of the board of both companies. But after making arrangements for disposal of his vast stockholdings and taking his wife on an extended European tour, Pierre by late 1925 was relatively unburdened for the first time in his adult life. 10
Born in 1870, Pierre had been orphaned at fourteen when his father was killed in a factory explosion. Thereafter, he became so much the head of the family that even his brothers and sisters called him "Dad." After graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1890 (as Irenee and Lammot would do later), he worked briefly in the family powder company, then invested in street railway companies in Lorain, Ohio, and Dallas, Texas. In cooperation with two cousins, Pierre bought the almost bankrupt Du Pont Company in 1902 and within fifteen years, using astute, innovative financing and management techniques, turned it into a huge, diversified, and very prosperous industrial empire under his control. He and John Raskob then duplicated the feat with General Motors."
Prior to his retirement from business, Pierre found little time for involvement in public affairs. His civic activities had been largely confined to efforts to improve Delaware public education by reforming the state tax system, giving nearly four million dollars to build schools for black children, and donating another two million to improve the state university. Beginning in 1925 he served as the state's school tax commissioner." Freed of his business responsibilities and still vigorous at fifty-five, Pierre in the middle of the 1920s was for the first time in his career both eager and able to address public issues. The process of transferring his stockholdings to relatives, to retain control of the two giant corporations within the family and yet avoid heavy estate taxes, heightened his awareness of tax burdens and government expenses at this time. In letters to a cousin regarding stock transfers, Pierre began in 1924 to complain that the Eighteenth Amendment was undermining government, encouraging graft, corruption, and "utter disregard of law," yet not discouraging drinking.41
Early in 1925, as he recalled it, Stayton asked Pierre du Pont why he had not joined the AAPA along with his younger brothers. Pierre wondered whether the association was not simply "the spokesman for the liquor traffic?" Stayton assured him it was not. Still Pierre suspected that the vast majority of Americans favored prohibition and that it might be a good thing for the country. Stayton described the ratification process, in particular the invalidated Ohio referendum rejecting the amendment. He suggested that Pierre look for himself into the question of prohibition's acceptance and of its benefits by writing to both law-enforcement officials and factory managers. Prohibition Commissioner Roy Haynes replied that, except for the city of Detroit, the country was dry. Du Pont Company and General Motors plant managers, on the contrary, wrote of bootlegging and worsening conditions. Pierre, trusting his employees, felt that it was unpardonable that a public official would falsify the situation. Talking to Irenee and reading several books helped convince Pierre to fight the Eighteenth Amendment. By March 1925 he was opposing a Delaware state enforcement bill. In November he began to contribute to the AAPA, and a year later he became a director of the Delaware division. 4 4
Pierre du Pont expressed his reasons for entering the antiprohibition crusade in both private correspondence and public statements. Intemperance, lawlessness, threats to property rights, and the loss of local decisionmaking power all concerned him. Initially, he referred frequently to his support for temperance and to the drys' having gone too far. To a defender of national prohibition, he wrote that "the great error in the Prohibition movement is failure to distinguish between the moderate use of alcohol and drinking to excess." The WCTU and other dry groups, Pierre complained, "continually dwell upon the evils of alcohol and the curse of drink." Pierre himself failed to see moderate drinking as criminal or even injurious. Temperate people are naturally resentful "when the over-zealous become intemperate themselves and regardless of anything attempt to class the owner of any small amount of wine or stimulant, no matter for what purpose used, in the same class of undesirables as the most chronic drunkard."" People neither respect nor observe the liquor ban, he said, but "flout the law, causing national scandal." Consequently, vast sums of money were being turned over to a criminal underworld. A dangerous lawlessness had resulted from the popular revolt against prohibition."
Not only was the prohibition amendment ineffectual in promoting temperance, Pierre du Pont contended, it was undemocratic and unconstitutional. This view he reached after consulting his attorney." The Eighteenth Amendment had been adopted without the people's having had an opportunity to vote on it and, in several instances, in contrast to the expressed will of the state's voters. Furthermore, a federal system of government had been established so that people might choose their own laws in local matters. "if the people of thirty-six states believe they are better off not drinking alcoholic beverages, or if they think they have stopped their drinking simply by prohibiting it, they are welcome to their belief," he wrote. "They have neither moral nor constitutional right to insist that all other states shall pretend to the same view.""
The idea that the federal government, in the interest of social reform, could, without compensation, take an action destroying an industry troubled Pierre. "When the Constitution of the United States was amended and the Volstead Act passed, much property invested in the production of alcoholic liquor, in a legal manner, was rendered useless, and there was no thought of recompense to the innocents who suffered." The whole process, he concluded, "has been an outrage to American institutions."" Pierre's sensitivity on this point may have been caused by a 1911 antitrust decision forcing a partial splitting up of the Du Pont Company. Or it may have been due to a heavy special tax on profits from sales of gunpowder and other explosives which Congress passed in the summer of 1916 and made retroactive to January 1916; resentment at Du Pont profits from foreign contracts had appeared to prompt the legislation."' At any rate, Pierre was quite aware of government's potential for restricting business and wished that government's power to do so could be limited.
At times Pierre's criticisms of national prohibition extended into other areas, but his basic themes of protest did not change.
These then, are the fundamental objections to the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead law:
They are failures as a remedy for the drink evil.
They command no respect and scant observation because they disregard the wishes and rights of a very large number of people.
They were brought into being hastily, without proper approval, and it seems to me, by methods that are not constitutional."
Pierre's concern with prohibition ran deep enough to overcome his natural king and writing campaign shyness, leading him to plunge into the speaking against the liquor ban.
The person who, along with Pierre du Pont and William Stayton, proved eventually to be perhaps the most significant figure in the AAPA was Pierre's closest business associate, John J. Raskob. The career of the small, quiet, fastidious Raskob, one scholar observed, could be used as a model for an Horatio Alger tale."" Born to poor immigrants, an Alsatian cigarmaker and his Irish wife, in Lockport, New York, in 1879, Raskob was forced by his father's death to support his mother, three younger brothers, and a sister. The ambitious Raskob studied stenography and bookkeeping. Eventually, in 1900 at the age of twenty-one, he obtained a position as secretary to Pierre du Pont. Raskob made himself invaluable to his employer, assisting him in the reorganization and refinancing of the Du Pont Company. The two men, separated by only nine years in age, became warm personal friends as well as lifelong business colleagues."
After becoming corporate treasurer in 1914, Raskob began to invest in a struggling Detroit automobile firm, General Motors. He persuaded Pierre to join him. In 1915, when GM's founder William Durant and a group of bankers who had invested heavily in the firm were fighting for control of the company, Raskob persuaded them to elect Pierre, still a small stockholder, chairman of the board. Thereafter, Raskob urged the Du Pont Company to buy GM stock with some of its huge war profits. Through their holding company, Christiana Securities, the du Ponts eventually acquired a controlling interest in General Motors, nearly thirty-six percent of the firm's common stock. Although Pierre served as GM president from 1920 to 1923, Raskob as treasurer and chairman of the finance committee involved himself more deeply than any of the du Ponts in -the automobile firm. Management and finance practices developed at Du Pont were applied to GM. Raskob devised the General Motors Acceptance Corporation to allow installment purchasing of automobiles, an important innovation which allowed many Americans with modest incomes to buy cars or to trade up to more expensive models. The company's sales and profits mushroomed. Raskob acquired a large personal fortune and a reputation as an extremely capable businessman.
An innovative and progressive businessman, Raskob advanced several proposals for improving the lot of workers, while at the same time staunchly defending free enterprise. He advocated a shorter work week both for the workers' benefit and because he felt that, faced with greater leisure, the worker would become more of a consumer. In 1929 Raskob suggested a "workingmen's trust," a scheme whereby workers would regularly invest a small portion of their wages in American industry. These ideas, advanced but not radical for the 1920s, reflected Raskob's view that if left alone by government, those who worked hard would succeed in an American economic system in which corporations had come to recognize their social responsibilities. Prohibition threatened this structure, he warned an AntiSaloon League official: "If the Prohibition Amendment and laws at present on our books (remember I say 'if') are resulting in a lack of respect for law in our institutions, it is but a short step to such a lack of respect for property rights as to result in bolshevism.""
Captain Stayton first wrote to Raskob about the AAPA in the fall of 1919, but the businessman, wrapped up in Gm affairs, did not respond immediately. Finally, however, along with Irenee du Pont, Raskob accepted Stayton's invitation tojoin the association by sending in his dollar in June 1922. Again like Irdn6e, he began increasing his contributions to the association in mid-decade. " He explained his motives in a letter to a prohibitionist in June 1928, which the AAPA reprinted and distributed. "I am not a drinking man (this does not mean I never take a drink), am a director in corporations employing over three hundred thousand workmen and have a family of twelve children ranging in ages from five to twenty-one years," he began. "The thing that is giving me the greatest concern in connection with the rearing of these children and the future of our country is the fact that our citizens seem to be developing a thorough lack of respect for our laws and institutions, and there seems to be a growing feeling that nothing is wrong in life except getting caught." Raskob was devoted to his family. "What impressions are registering on the minds of my sons and daughters," he asked, ,.when they see thoroughly reputable and successful men and women drinking, talking about their bootleggers, the good 'stuff' they get, expressing contempt for the Volstead Law, etc.?" Although he tried to teach his children temperance, Raskob wondered "what ideas are forming in their young and fertile brains with respect to law and order?""
As a devout Roman Catholic in an age when his church faced frequent attack, Raskob also worried about the intolerance reflected in prohibition. The dry law attempted to regulate conduct in which Catholics had been much more accustomed than Protestants to engage. Dry Protestants had no right, he felt, to impose their will "in matters where no moral wrong is involved and where liberty is curtailed." Government should no more prohibit drinking than deny religious freedom, Raskob said, and the attempt to do so would result in rebellion. He wished instead to see a re-creation of "the atmosphere that gave birth to our Constitution-an atmosphere of brotherly love which spells tolerance and a keen respect for ourselves, for each other, for our laws, institutions and, above all. respect for our God, our liberty and our freedom."" To Raskob, reestablishment of tolerance came increasingly to mean an end to the Eighteenth Amendment.
Raskob, the du Ponts, Wadsworth, Cassatt, Murphy, and Joy each described his opposition to national prohibition differently, but all shared an underlying view: federal government intrusion was upsetting their stable, comfortable world. Many of these repeal advocates saw themselves as selfmade men. Whether from modest backgrounds, as were William Stayton, John Raskob, or Grayson Murphy, or from comfortable families like the Wadsworths or the du Ponts, they achieved their eminence through personal effort. Understandably, these successful men believed strongly that the traditional American system of individual freedom and circumscribed government worked. Ability, unrestrained by government, would prove itself, they did not doubt. All felt the federal government had gotten into an area where it ought not to be, could not do an effective job, and was causing all sorts of turmoil. Many of these men had been used to drinking alcoholic beverages before national prohibition, and though they kept liquor on hand and served it to their friends, they felt uncomfortable violating the law. Government should not enter, they asserted, where the individual was competent to decide. Clearly, they worried that if government could interfere in such unprecedented fashion in personal habits, it could also intrude more deeply into other matters, such as business affairs. Such power in the hands of a distant central government insensitive to local conditions and impervious to local influence, such as they were used to exercising, alarmed them especially.
Had prohibition succeeded in ending the use of alcohol, at least some would have continued to criticize the law in principal, but government's failure to enforce its declared will caused even more dismay. The American system of government provided a combination of freedom and order which had allowed their ancestors and themselves to acquire and preserve wealth and status. The prospect of a government strong enough to strip them of property and privileged position disturbed them, but no more than the spectre of government too weak to defend them. When they talked about loss of respect for law, they were genuinely concerned that scoffing at prohibition might lead to disobedience to other laws. Government's ability to enforce law was in doubt. They worried that the props might be removed from under their own positions. The Constitution had always symbolized the stability and limitations of government power, but a Constitution provided little protection if it could be radically and (apparently) easily changed or its provisions could not be enforced. Stayton's AAPA expressed the concerns of those to whom the prohibition question became one of constitutional stability.
Those entering the AAPA with articulated objections to prohibition were joined by other well-to-do men enlisting in the repeal campaign without announced motives. Between 1925 and 1927 the association began to receive substantial contributions from, among others, Edward S. Harkness, noted New York philanthropist whose father had been an early business partner of john D. Rockefeller, Robert T. Crane of Chicago's Crane Company, and Arthur Curtiss James, the principal owner of the Phelps Dodge Corporation and reputedly the largest individual holder of American railroad stocks. Older members such as John A. Roebling and Charles H. Sabin, the president of New York's Guaranty Trust Company, who was a friend of both Wadsworth and Pierre du Pont, increased their donations as well." These men no doubt shared the concerns of those of similar background who did make plain their objections to prohibition.
Men like James Wadsworth and Pierre du Pont, once committed to an enterprise, very quickly became impatient unless visible progress was being made toward their goal. Before long, they concluded that the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment was not effectively organized and had bogged down despite growing opportunities. Several signs confirmed such judgments.
In 1926 two congressional hearings had brought the AAPA new visibility and stature. A senate judiciary subcommittee held hearings in April to consider changes in prohibition. The AAPA and other members of the Joint Legislative Committee not only gained a forum but heard some of their criticisms of the law repeated by federal prohibition enforcement officials." In contrast, Wayne Wheeler's refusal to appear before the subcommittee tarnished the drys' image.10 Two months later a special Senate committee investigating political campaign irregularities called Captain Stayton to testify. He willingly and candidly answered all questions put to him concerning AAPA organization, methods, and finances and provided a list of all who had contributed one hundred dollars or more since the association's incorporation. On the immediate issue Of AAPA support for the allegedly corrupt William S. Vare in a Pennsylvania Senate primary, Stayton explained that the other two candidates had taken unacceptable positions on prohibition. The association appeared single-minded in pursuit of its goal, if not always fortunate in its choice of candidates, and was spared further involvement in the Vare scandals. Several newspapers complimented Stayton on his frank testimony, contrasting it to the hostile, secretive demeanor of Wheeler in his appearance before the committee."
The AAPA did not, however, take advantage of this new visibility by stepping up its efforts. Although membership and contributions were growing, Captain Stayton continued to run the association with the assistance only of Gorton C. Hinckley, the national secretary; Louis Livingstone, the national field secretary; and a small staff. They continued to put forth a steady stream of propaganda-letters, pamphlets, press releases, and posters --- emphasizing the evils of prohibition. But Stayton and his aides approached political contests very cautiously, unwilling to risk the AAPA'S financial resources unless certain of victory." Thus they failed to take a leading role in the eight state prohibition referendums of 1926.
Two of the most active state AAPA branches differed publicly with national leaders in 1926, and one withdrew from the organization. Prohibition became an issue in a Wisconsin Republican senatorial primary even though the state AAPA had announced that both major candidates had taken acceptable stands. Less than a week before the election, the national AAPA placed a full-page endorsement of progressive Governor John 1. Blaine in newspapers throughout Wisconsin. Conservative incumbent Irvine L. Lenroot's position on prohibition, including his votes for the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act, was described as "evasive and wholly unsatisfactory." Immediately, the state AAPA executive committee repudiated the Blaine endorsement, praised Lenroot, and sought to dismiss their state chairman for his role in the affair. A spokesman said that Stayton knew nothing of internal state affairs and was "highly presumptuous when he comes to Wisconsin and interferes with the rights and duties of our electorate.... Captain Stayton has a personal axe to grind and is wholly without authority to talk for our organization."" The AAPA opposition to centralized national authority appeared to have influenced attitudes toward its own leadership. The furor, a by-product of a complex political struggle in Wisconsin, died after Blaine narrowly won the primary.
An even more striking example of discord developed in Missouri, where the state AAPA branch had long been strong and active. In the spring of 1926 the Missouri division, with Stayton's apparent blessing, obtained 50,000 signatures on a petition proposing a November ballot on repeal of state prohibition laws. It hoped to demonstrate that a majority of Missourians disliked prohibition. When both Republican and Democratic state platforms opposed the referendum, Stayton feared a defeat that would set back the repeal cause. He sought to blunt its effect. On September 3 he advised voters to withhold their support, calling the referendum unnecessary since both Senate candidates were wet. The referendum lost almost two to one. The Missouri division head, Judge Henry S. Priest, bitterly charged the national AAPA with reneging on promised financial and publicity assistance. With that aid, he said, the referendum would have carried. "We feel constrained to repudiate your dictatorship and express our indignation at the betrayal of the confidence we reposed in you," Priest wrote angrily to Stayton, "and to withdraw from your organization and to form one of our own to prosecute the worthy cause which we feel your stupid one-horse management is endangering.""
Public bickering and defections embarrassed the AAPA, but less obvious troubles plagued it as well. Grayson Murphy wrote Wadsworth after the April 1926 Congressional hearings on modification that he and Julian Codman felt Stayton's health was breaking down. With the burdens of the repeal fight increasing, he continued, the association needed "a keen, well informed political organizer."" At the same time, the 6S-year-old captain reciprocally developed a strong personal dislike for Codman when he became convinced that the Joint Legislative Committee counsel was trying to take over or split the association." Wadsworth agreed that Stayton was showing strain but confessed uncertainty as to what should be done."
By late 1927 impatience with the tactics of the AAPA and the slow progress of the repeal movement came to the surface. James Wadsworth decided to do niore about reorganizing the association than merely discussing it with Codman and Murphy. The former senator agreed to host a meeting of prominent men opposed to prohibition at his Washington home on Decembet 12 to consider what should be done. Wadsworth consulted Stayton on the guest list, and the AAPA staff made the arrangements. Shortly before the meeting, Stayton, perhaps seeking to mollify critics, pledged a vigorous campaign in 1928. At two large dinners in New York in late November, he revealed plans to raise three million dollars and seek a national referendum on prohibition." Wadsworth immediately wrote Murphy that "we shall most certainly discuss his suggestion at our meeting in Washington, and I think we can make it apparent in a perfectly good-natured way that there may be a wiser policy. Thus far, I have found him quite amenable to suggestions, providing they are spoken to him direct. "19 Nothing more would be heard of Stayton's proposals.
Both veterans of the antiprohibition crusade and recent adherents to the cause attended the session which began December 12 and lasted into the following day. AAPA founders Stayton and Hinckley were there along with longtime members Charles H. Sabin and William Bell Wait of New York, E. Clemens Horst of San Francisco, and Sidney T. Miller of Michigan. Austen G. Fox represented the New York Modification League. Congressional sympathizers, Senators Edge and Bruce as well as Representatives H. S. White of Colorado and Charles Linthicurn of Maryland, were present along with former representative Thomas W. Phillips of Pennsylvania. Pierre du Pont, Edward S. Harkness, former Assistant Secretary of War Benedict Crowell of Cleveland, Codman, and Murphy rounded out the group. Elihu Root, Henry B. Joy, and Representative James M. Beck of Philadelphia, a former solicitor general, were among those invited who could not attend's The relatively recent converts in the group, principally Wadsworth and Pierre du Pont, seized the initiative. With Wadsworth presiding, the gathering quickly agreed that national prohibition had failed and an opportune time had arrived to work on a solution. Wadsworth appointed two committees to explore how to proceed. The first, including Wait, Edge, Fox, Stayton, and Wadsworth and chaired by Julian Codman, was to discuss objectives. The second, headed by Pierre du Pont and involving Harkness, Sabin and Stayton, was to consider how the effort should be organized. Codman's committee recommended undertaking an effort to modify the Volstead Act to ban only distilled liquor. The committee, wishing repeal but seeing no immediate prospect of achieving it, was willing to put off repeal to an uncertain future. They also suggested a decentralization of the antiprohibition campaign, with state committees doing most of the work and money raising. Finally, Codman personally proposed terminating the AAPA, which he felt had alienated modificationists, made enemies, and developed a reputation as being "somewhat futile." He felt a new organization, with a different name, would help the cause. " The influence of Cod man, one of the more prominent early repeal leaders, clearly was declining, for these recommendations were brushed aside for the quite contrary plans developed by Pierre du Pont's committee.
When the full group met again at Wadsworth's home on January 6, 1928, the du Pont committee submitted a terse four-page report which commended Stayton for his past efforts and proposed that the AAPA be continued under the same name, "as descriptive of our ultimate purpose." At the same time, the report urged a more active effort to repeal both the Volstead Act and the amendment. Most importantly, however, the committee recommended a new pattern of organization. A national board of directors would be chosen for the value of their endorsement of the association. Captain Stayton would serve as chairman of this board. Effective power, however, would be in the hands of a five-to-seven member executive committee of this board. The executive committee would meet frequently, formulate policy, and actively supervise the affairs of the AAPA. An experienced executive would be appointed president of the association to work with Stayton and, like the captain, report to the executive committee. The report proposed that Henry Curran of New York, a friend of Wadsworth's, be offered the presidency. Both Curran and Stayton would be paid from a special fund guaranteed by members of the board so that the general funds of the association could be directed toward the public campaign for repeal and be expended primarily in the locality where they were raised. Finally, a publicity campaign should be launched with the aid of advertising expert Bruce Barton, who had offered his assistance and with whom the committee had met. The report was quickly accepted in its entirety. "
Pierre du Pont, fittingly enough, became chairman of the new executive committee. The entire AAPA reorganization showed his strong influence. The pattern ofa window-dressing board of directors and a strong executive committee to which the organization's spokesmen and administrators were responsible followed closely the general management systems established at the Du Pont Company and General Motors. In each instance, important policy decisions were discussed and determined by an informed committee rather than by an individual. Being elevated to the chairmanship of the board of directors somewhat displeased Stayton, who wanted his former power and independence. But Pierre du Pont, whose resources could accelerate the campaign, wished to proceed in a fashion he regarded as efficient and productive, so Stayton accepted the changes gracefully. The executive committee originally included, in addition to Pierre, his brother lrenee, Stayton, and four of Wadsworth's good friends: Grayson Murphy, Charles Sabin, Benedict Crowell, and Henry Curran. Edward Harkness was invited to serve, but declined. The following year Wadsworth himself joined, and later Robert Cassatt became a member. Otherwise membership did not grow. The executive committee met often, almost weekly at the outset, and every member participated actively in its deliberations." Whereas earlier Stayton had guided the AAPA with a free hand, after the reorganization, the executive committee, led by Pierre du Pont, clearly directed the association.
The executive committee, at Wadsworth's suggestion, chose Henry H. Curran president of the restructured AAPA. Curran and Wadsworth had been Yale classmates and had worked together for years in New York Republican politics. They shared a mutual dislike for federal power and a desire for a revival of state and local government. Curran, fifty-one in 1928, had been a reporter, a lawyer, a publicity agent, and a reform Republican alderman in New York City. In 1919 he had won an upset election to become borough president of Manhattan, and two years later he lost a race for mayor. Such partisan services earned him appointment in 1923 as commissioner of immigration for the Port of New York, a post he resigned in 1926 to become counsel for the City Club of New York. Curran's facial expression, it was said, was as wooden as Buster Keaton's, but his aggressive, outspoken manner and sharp sense of humor appealed to the association."
After announcing Curran's appointment January 15, 1928, the executive committee began seeking members for the board of directors. Hoping to create a large, distinguished board with members from every state to emphasize the repeal movement's respectability, the committee at first sought fifty men, then rapidly raised its sights. From the nucleus of the executive committee, the board grew to 67 by mid-April, 103 by year's end, and 435 by 1933." With various executive committee members suggesting candidates, and Stayton or Pierre du Pont making most of the contacts, the board came to include notables from various fields-law, education, medicine, organized labor-but, not surprisingly, for the most part from the heights of American business and finance. Among those initially invited to join were Charles M. Schwab of United States Steel, Henry H. Westinghouse of Westinghouse, Paul W. Litchfield of Goodyear, Fred Fisher and Charles F. Kettering of General Motors, Eldridge R. Johnson of Victor Talking Machine Company, R. L. Agassiz of Calumet and Hecla Copper, and W. W. Atterbury of the Pennsylvania Railroad; all but the first three accepted. Longtime AAPA supporters Arthur Curtiss James, Henry B. Joy, and John J. Raskob reinforced the board's business character. Some well-known nonbusiness critics of prohibition were invited to membership: Elihu Root, Columbia University president Nicholas Murray Butler, and former senator Oscar W. Underwood declined; author and editor Fabian Franklin, Carnegie Institute president Samuel Harden Church, and AFL vice-president Matthew Woll accepted. Finally, the heads of AAPA state divisions and all nonlegislators who had attended the Wadsworth meetings were enlisted as well." The board of directors met rarely, performed nominal duties, but, as intended, provided a showcase for prominent advocates of repeal.
The association's reorganization generated additional financial backing. Members of the executive committee and the board of directors contributed large sums of money to the repeal fight. In March 1928 Pierre and Irenee du Pont each offered $15,000 toward the immediate expenses of the expanded AAPA program. By the end of June, they bad pledged a further $25,000 apiece for the following twelve months. John Raskob promised $25,000 a year for two years and indicated his intention to continue the contribution for three more years if the association made satisfactory progress. In addition, Pierre, Irenee, and Raskob joined Lammot du Pont, Sabin, Harkness, and Thomas W. Phillips in pledging for five years a special annual donation of $5,000 each to pay salaries of $25,000 to Curran and $10,000 to Stayton. Executive committee members Grayson Murphy and Benedict Crowell contributed lesser, but still substantial sums, as did directors Arthur Curtiss James, Eldridge R. Johnson, John Roebling, Fred Fisher, Robert T. Crane, and William 1. Walters."
Although such donations meant that the AAPA was never again impoverished, its leaders still complained continually about insufficient resources. Repeal organizations never possessed more than a minor fraction of the funds that temperance forces had expended in winning passage of the Eighteenth Amendment. National AAPA spending from 1928 through 1933 averaged about $450,000 per year, slightly exceeding income. In the year of its greatest income, 1930, the association was forced to borrow over $100,000 to cover its $818,137 expenditure. AAPA total income during the six years preceding repeal roughly equaled the Anti-Saloon League's annual budget of S2,5W,000 during the final stages of its fight for national prohibition." Nevertheless, from 1928 onward the antiprohibition organization possessed enough funds to engage in a vigorous campaign.
The announcement in April 1928 of the AAPA's reorganization and the initial membership of its new board of directors, helped foster an image of the association as a tiny elite. Previously, prohibitionists had charged the AAPA with being a front for brewery interests, pointing to the several thousand dollars Stayton had accepted from Fred Pabst and other brewers. Drys now claimed that the association was nothing more than the creature of a small, wealthy, selfish clique interested in reducing its income taxes." Fletcher Dobyns repeated these charges in his 1940 book on the repeal movement, and they were apparently plausible enough to be accepted by several generations of historians.10 Association leaders, either because they failed to appreciate the negative consequences of such a reputation or because they did not care, allowed the dry characterization to go unchallenged. Annual reports of the association emphasized the backgrounds of members of the board of directors, and public disclosures of contributions highlighted the small group of large donors.
The AAPA began to file contribution and expense reports with the House of Representatives after passage of the Federal Corrupt Practices Act in 1925. Antiprohibitionists had urged passage of this legislation to expose Anti-Saloon League finances. The league, however, refused to report, claiming to be nonpolitical." The reporting law required identification of the donor and amount of contributions of $100 or more, but only the annual sum of smaller gifts. Quite naturally attention focused on big contributions even when, in 1926, 53 percent of the association's income came from gifts of under $100. As the proportion of these smaller gifts fell to 22 percent of total income in 1928 and 14 percent in 1932, the spotlight shone even more brightly on large donations. The corrupt-practices act reports, which were not always complete, showed that between 1928 and 1932 the three du Pont brothers contributed $113,000, $137,000 and $147,000, respectively, while John Raskob, Robert Crane, Arthur Curtiss James, and Edward Harkness gave from $64,000 to $70,000 apiece. These seven men provided almost 29 percent of the association's income during those five years. Several other directors made substantial donations as well, from $3,000 or $4,000 up to as much as $40,000." Since an outside judgment had to be based only on these reports to the House of Representatives, the image of the AAPA as the tool of a tiny band of very wealthy individuals was understandable, indeed could hardly have been avoided.
A somewhat different impression emerges, however, upon examination of contribution summaries and balance sheets prepared annually for the executive committee. For many years these documents remained buried in the files of Pierre du Pont and his colleagues. Beginning in 1929, the AAPA kept records of the number as well as the amount of contributions. In that year, eighty directors of the association donated $298,938, an average of $3,737 per director; this represented 65 percent of the year's income but less than I percent of the number of all donations. During the same time, 7,911 donations of $I to $2S, averaging $5. 1 1, were received. While this amounted to only 9.S percent of total receipts, it was 83 percent of the number of contributions. Another 1,573 members (16 percent of all donors) gave amounts of more than $25, averaging $74.84." Clearly the AAPA received much broader support than the Federal Corrupt Practices Act reports revealed.
From 1930 on, the association compiled figures for four categories of donations: those from national directors, from state division directors (an inconsequential group which never produced more than 2 percent of income or the numbers of donations), from members giving $100 or more, and from those giving smaller amounts. Each year, the last classification accounted for more than 90 percent of all contributions. During the peak income year of 1930, this represented 21,588 gifts averaging $8.05, or 28 percent of all money received. During the next three years, the number of donors in all categories declined sharply, no doubt because of the depression. Small donors produced only 13 to 15 percent of association income, but they provided 7,952 gifts averaging $8.13 in 1931, 5,163 averaging $8.55 in 1932, and 3,495 averaging $10.74 in 1933. From 1928 through 1933, the years during which the AAPA was supposedly only a front for a handful of rich businessmen, it received contributions from an average of 10,049 individuals a year, more than 9 out of 10 of whom made only modest gifts."
The pattern of support for the association is somewhat further clarified by the few membership figures available. These statistics seem less significant than contribution reports since a person could belong to the AAPA by simply endorsing its position. No dues were required. After the 1928 reorganization, new lists were compiled, and earlier inflated claims dropped. Early in 1930, Curran reported 150,000 members nationwide; at the end of the year, he claimed 360,000. Enrollment reached a peak of 550,000 in 1932.1' Since only a small portion of these people went even so far as to send the A"A a dollar, these figures can be regarded as a fairly modest measure of strength. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that over a half million persons did take at least a small step to register their agreement with the association's position.
When all the available evidence is considered, an image of the AAPA emerges which varies considerably from the one painted by its dry opponents. A core of wealthy, enthusiastic leaders did pour large sums of money into the association. None provided the organization with anything like the $350,000 which John D. Rockefeller gave the Anti-Saloon League between 1900 and 1919. Nor did they represent the sole backing for the A"A, any more than Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and S. S. Kresge did for the Anti-Saloon League. In fact, for the principal organization of both wets and drys, well over 90 percent of all donations were under $100. 11 Thousands of small contributors provided the AAPA a second level of participation, and the large nonpaying membership offered a base of support. Thus, the association appears to have been a political pressure group of fairly normal composition, with an inner circle of dedicated, deeply involved leaders and a much larger, though more modestly engaged, body of sympathizers.
The AAPA attracted an average of ten thousand donors a year and altogether over half a million adherents because of the appeal of its positions. The message of constitutional peril which Stayton began to preach in 1919 drew not only the du Ponts, Wadsworth, and their friends to the association, but many others as well. A sizable group of Americans stood ready by the late 1920s to support an organization which opposed national prohibition as an expansion of federal power. Whether their first concern was uncontrolled crime, lost local influence on political decisions, restrictions of individualism, corruption of youth, possible tax increases, or spreading liquor abuse, they could identify with an organization which preached against prohibition on the basis that it tampered with the Constitution and placed too much authority in the hands of a central government. The leaders and supporters of the AAPA were drawn to common ground which was clearly staked out in a resolution which the new board of directors, as one of its first acts, adopted in the spring of 1928:
RESOLVED, That we shall work, first and foremost, for the entire repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, to the end of casting out this solitary, sumptuary statute, the intrusion of which into constitutional realms has so severely hurt our country. The question of whether prohibition or regulation is the more effective relation of government to the liquor traffic is utterly subordinate to the distortion of our Federal Constitution by compelling it to carry the burden of a task which is an affair for the police power of each of our forty-eight separate and sovereign states, and never should be the business of the Federal Government."
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