Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition

By Norman H. Clark | Go to book overview

7
Tables
of Law

as speakers for the Anti-Saloon League explained it, the entire history of the Prohibition Movement had shown that there could be no permissibly wet enclaves within the dry Zion. The very existence of wet states presented constant and insidious threats to the order and security of the dry states, and this, to the ASL, was an intolerable situation. And since 1890, every effort of a dry state to prevent interstate shipments of liquor had been found by the court to violate the exclusive right of Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Because such rulings prevented the states from protecting themselves, the ASL insisted, they made the liquor traffic essentially a national, not a local, crime. If Congress then chose to ignore this crime, an amendment to the Constitution to circumvent the interstate commerce clause was the only way to attack it.

Accordingly, late in 1913, the Anti-Saloon League began its drive for nationwide Prohibition. Taking up their white ribbons—the symbol of temperance borrowed from Frances Willard and the WCTU—some four thousand men and women marched down Pennsylvania Avenue on December 10 to the capitol, where they petitioned Congress. Their resolution proclaimed that "Whereas, exact scientific research has demonstrated that alcohol is a narcotic poison, destructive and degenerating to the human organism . . ." It concluded by proposing that the Constitution be amended to prohibit "the sale, manufacture for sale, transportation for sale, importation for sale, of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes . . ."

The movement toward this petition had been accelerated in

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