OVER PROHIBHION, 1905–1933
Until the passage of the Volstead Act, which established enforcement procedures for Prohibition, the federal government had a limited view of its proper role in the regulation of the liquor industry. Prohibiting the sale of alcohol at army canteens was both an exception and a taste of things to come. As the nineteenth century ended and the twentieth began, brewers, the sixth largest industry in the country in 1905, could look forward to ever increasing growth and sales. Reality, in the form of the prohibition movement, led in another direction.201
Following the breakup of the Whiskey Ring, the administration of the Bureau of Internal Revenue stabilized. Although fraud by licensed distillers did not disappear, the Bureau shifted its attention to moonshine, particularly in the South. In March of 1875, Congress raised the liquor tax to ninety cents a gallon. During the 1880s, there were several attempts to raise the tax. Linked to efforts to reduce tariffs, none of the legislation succeeded. Although Republicans originated the liquor tax, when Democrats gained the Presidency in 1884, the patronage and power associated with liquor taxation convinced them to retain the status quo.202
201 Hugh F. Fox, “The Prosperity of the Brewing Industry,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 34, no. 3, 55.
202 Amy Mittelman, “The Politics of Alcohol Production: The Liquor Industry and the Federal Government, 1862–1900” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1986), 106; Miller, Revenuers and Moonshiners, Enforcing Federal Liquor Law in the Mountain South, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 147–149.