Temperance And Prohibition Essays

Temperance And Prohibition Essays-40
In the 1920 National Prohibition Cases, the Supreme Court ruled that, under the Supremacy Clause, states could not enact legislation that conflicted with congressional enactments regarding Prohibition.Because the states had been the engines of much Progressive legislation, the Progressive Movement assumed that the states would actively enforce the amendment, federal law, and their own state laws.

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Under its Section 2 powers, Congress enacted the Volstead Act in 1919 over President Woodrow Wilson's veto.In Illinois, “about fifteen women…approached [a] saloon and asked its keeper to close down.” When he refused, the women “brandished their hatchets.” The owner then fetched a shotgun, aimed it at them, and ordered them out.As they left the cellar, a group of “gentlemen who had been attracted by the cry of the ladies” disarmed the owner, and allowed the women to resume their efforts, and demolished the town’s other two remaining saloons “amid the cheers and plaudits of the assembled multitude.” The women, “regret[ted] the necessity which led to these acts of violence but [the act] appealed to the virtuous and the good everywhere.” While prohibition laws were not successfully passed until much later, the temperance movement itself was nevertheless indebted to the radical activism of the WTCU and its ilk.However, such a linear view of history may be all too narrow, as Ian Tyrell, writing in the One of the major groups behind the temperance movement, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, was “long ignored or ridiculed as a fossil of prohibition.” But recent scholarship has come to appreciate the more progressive—even feminist—side of temperance work.Scholars like Ruth Bordin recognize that the temperance movement—whose goals included improving the lives of women whose drunken husbands were driven to abuse—as “the foremost example of American feminism.” Indeed, many women’s rights activists came to the movement through participation in the temperance crusade (among them Susan B. The temperance movement, in fact, gave women the opportunity to be engaged in public political life for the first time.Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida, Image RC03392.Digital image courtesy of the Florida Memory Project. Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid, photograph, 1921(? Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, LC-USZ62-123257.After decades of vehement debate, the "Noble Experiment" of Prohibition commenced on January 17, 1920, one year after the 18th Amendment had been ratified by the states.The debate did not end at that point, of course; it switched to the issues of efficacy, unforeseen consequences, popular support, and repeal.In pursuit of temperance, too, women came to invade even that most sacred of male spaces: the saloon.Dannenbaum recounts how throughout the mid-nineteenth century, groups of women activists would enter saloon spaces and “physically destroy” them.


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