Liquor and labor interests had been the most prominent actors in the struggle over Prohibition prior to the adoption of the Eighteenth Amendment. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 allowed several strands of anti-prohibition arguments to coalesce into a ground swell against Prohibition. In 1932, the election of Franklin Roosevelt sealed Prohibition’s fate.
Since Al Smith’s candidacy in 1928, the Democratic Party identified with wet constituencies in the urban areas of the country. The economic crisis of the Great Depression strengthened the Repeal advocates’ arguments about the negative financial consequences of Prohibition and the benefits of legal taxable liquor. The 1932 Democratic platform endorsed a constitutional amendment to end Prohibition, stating “Pending repeal, we favor immediate modification of the Volstead Act; to legalize the manufacture and sale of beer and other beverages of such alcoholic content as is permissible under the Constitution and to provide there from a proper and needed revenue.”285 Roosevelt’s election was a landslide, clearly a mandate for quick economic remedies. The newly elected President, a member of America’s landed aristocracy, enjoyed cocktails, and mixing drinks was one of his hobbies.286
When Franklin Roosevelt became the 32nd President of the United States on March 4, 1933 the country was in the worst economic depression in history,
285 Democratic Party Platform of 1932, Gerhard Peters, American Presidency Project, http://www. presidency.ucsb.edu/showplatforms.php?platindex=D1932 (accessed June 11, 2007).
286 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., ed., The Almanac of American History (New York: G. Putnam’s Sons, 1983), 460; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Roosevelt: The Coming of the New Deal (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965), 570-580.