100 years ago today, prohibitionists brought their first constitutional amendment to ban the sale of alcohol before the House of Representatives. The vote went in their favour by 197 to 190 but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to progress. It would be another three years before the amendment was passed by the House and Senate.
The debate of 22 December 1914 is best remembered for the speech delivered by Richmond Hobson, a moral entrepreneur par excellence, known as Alcohol: The Great Destroyer. It was a speech he had delivered many times in his tub-thumping career and the version he gave that day is reprinted below with a few notes by me in italics. Readers will see that there is nothing new about campaigners using junk science, sophistry, dodgy statistics and attacks on industry to push for bans.
'These convictions are permanent, because they are founded on questions of fact and not of opinion. They revolve about the nature of alcohol, a chemical compound whose properties have been definitely ascertained at the hands of science. Whether members of this House are "wet" or "dry," all should acquaint themselves with the recent findings of science as to what alcohol really is, and the effect it really has upon the human organisms, and through the human organisms the political and social organisms. In other words, Mr. Speaker, the whole question hinges upon the truth about alcohol.
The Good Book tells us, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
I assume, Mr. Speaker, that every member in this House will be loyal to the truth when in his own reason and in his own conscience he has found it. Loyalty to the truth is really the true test of a man, whether he is in the image of his Maker and is worthy of that dignity that attaches to human life above the life of the brute living on the plane of self-preservation.
I realize full well, Mr. Speaker, how with the deceptive properties of alcohol and the powerful financial interests connected with it the average man of today has been molded in an atmosphere of error as to its real nature. The educational effects of his observation as to the harmful effects of drunkenness have been partly dissipated by the constant reiteration that the harm comes from the abuse and not the temperate use, the results of which do not appear on the surface. As a matter of fact the effect of the moderate use of alcoholic beverages spread over the whole nation has done and is doing vastly more harm than all the drunkenness and intemperance combined.'
[Note that most of the science Hobson discusses here and throughout his speech was the quackery of 'scientific temperance' which has long since been debunked (indeed, it had been debunked at the time). Note also Hobson's eagerness to go beyond heavy drinking and drunkenness—which everybody knew were hazardous from observation and experience—to the more arguable harms of moderate consumption. It was an article of faith for prohibitionists that there was 'no safe level' of alcohol consumption and that even one drink was an addictive poison. Today, the 'no safe level' argument is commonly made about tobacco, secondhand smoke and even nicotine, and medical temperance campaigners such as Tim Stockwell and David Nutt are making concerted efforts to undermine the (very strong) epidemiological evidence that moderate drinking is healthy. Modern campaigners are particularly interested in pushing the (very small and possibly non-causal) link between light drinking and breast cancer to promote total abstinence. - CJS]
'The substance about which this whole question revolves is a chemical compound of the group of the oxide derivatives of the hydrocarbons, its formula being C2H5(OH), 2 atoms of carbon, 6 of hydrogen, and 1 of oxygen [this is the chemical structure of ethynol - CJS]. Among the other members of this group may be mentioned carbolic acid, chloral hydrate — popularly called chloral — morphine, and strychnine. Alcohol is produced by the process of fermentation, in which process ferment germs devour glucose in solution derived from grain, grapes, and other substances, and in their life processes they throw off waste products like other living organisms. One of the waste products is the gas that causes bubbling. The other waste product is the liquid alcohol. Alcohol is then the toxin, the loathsome excretion of a living organism. It comes under the general law governing toxins, namely, the toxin of one form of life is a poison to the form of life that produced it and a poison to every other form of life of a higher order. The ferment germs are single-cell germs — the lowest form of life known — consequently their toxin, alcohol, is a poison to all forms of life, whether plants, animals, or men — a poison to the elemental protoplasm out of which all forms of life are constructed. The first scientific finding about alcohol is that "alcohol is a protoplasmic poison." An organic substance placed in alcohol is preserved indefinitely, because no living thing — neither germs of decomposition nor the ferment germs themselves — can penetrate the alcohol.
We must therefore surrender all our preconceived ideas about the supposed food value and benefits of alcohol, even in the smallest quantities. As an illustration, one mug of mild beer — supposed to be beneficial and helpful — will in thirty minutes lower the efficiency of the average soldier 36 per cent in aiming his rifle.
Alcohol has the property of chloroform and ether of penetrating actually into the nerve fibers themselves, putting the tissues under an anesthetic which prevents pain at first, but when the anesthetic effect is over discomfort follows throughout the tissues of the whole body, particularly the nervous system, which causes a craving for relief by recourse to the very substance that produced the disturbance. This craving grows directly with the amount and regularity of the drinking.
The poisoning attack of alcohol is specially severe in the cortex cerebrum — the top part of the brain — where resides the center of inhibition, or of will power, causing partial paralysis, which liberates lower activities otherwise held in control, causing a man to be more of a brute, but to imagine that he has been stimulated, when he is really partially paralyzed. This center of inhibition is the seat of the will power, which of necessity declines a little in strength every time partial paralysis takes place.
Thus a man is little less of a man after each drink he takes. In this way continued drinking causes a progressive weakening of the will and a progressive growing of the craving, so that after a time, if persisted in, there must come a point where the will power cannot control the craving and the victim is in the grip of the habit. [Modern research does not support this theory of alcoholism - CJS]
When the drinking begins young the power of the habit becomes overwhelming, and the victim might as well have shackles [The theory that people who start drinking when young are more likely to become alcoholics is still propagated and has some evidence behind it. However, "it is not clear whether starting to drink at an early age actually causes alcoholism or whether it simply indicates an existing vulnerability to alcohol use disorders... Some evidence indicates that genetic factors may contribute to the relationship between early drinking and subsequent alcoholism" - CJS]. It is estimated that there are 5,000,000 heavy drinkers and drunkards in America, and these men might as well have a ball and chain on their ankles, for they are more abject slaves than those black men who were driven by slave drivers.
It is vain for us to think that slavery has been abolished. There are nearly twice as many slaves, largely white men, today than there were black men slaves in America at any one time [The prohibition movement consciously modelled itself on the abolition movement. Some tobacco prohibitionists have recently begun to use the same rhetoric - CJS]
These victims are driven imperatively to procure their liquor, no matter at what cost [as Prohibition proved! - CJS]. A few thousand brewers and distillers making up the organizations composing the great liquor trust, have a monopoly of the supply [thousands of companies having a monopoly is obviously an oxymoron - CJS], and they therefore own these 5,000,000 slaves and through them they are able to collect $2,500,000,000 cash from the American people every year.
In this way nearly two-thirds of all the money in circulation in America in the course of a year passes into the hands of the liquor trust.
Very little of the money paid for liquor remains in circulation locally, because liquor employs so few men for the capital invested and pays them such poor wages [Simon Chapman made a similarly daft argument about economics this year - CJS].
Labor unions ought to realize that liquor is their deadliest enemy. It lowers the standard of character and the standard of living of labor. It dissipates the earnings of labor, interferes with savings, and increases the dependence of labor upon the will of capital. It breeds the violence and disorder that often bring labor's cause into disrepute and give the victory to their opponents. In an industrial struggle, as in any other struggle, if both opponents are sober, there is good chance for arbitration. If one side is debauched by liquor, it will lose. The road to solve the problems between capital and labor is to make the whole country dry as the mining regions of Colorado were made dry in the strike. If the capital now invested in liquor were put to useful channels it would employ more than a million and a half additional men, wage-earners, and largely solve the problem of the unemployed. This tremendous increase in the demand for labor would cause a general rise in wages and a corresponding rise in the standard of living.
Railroads, armies, manufacturing plants, and other employers of men are rapidly coming to realize the heavy toll of inefficiency and loss of productiveness on the part of men in their employ even from moderate drinking. Scientific management of modern industry in every branch is rapidly coming to demand total abstinence.
Investigations in connection with employers' liability for accident and sickness are rapidly disclosing the responsibility of liquor for the bulk of the accidents and the sickness in mines, mills, and shops and other operations.
My figures indicate a general loss of efficiency of about 21.5 per cent for the American producer, on the average. This entails an economic loss of over $8,000,000,000 by the nation. As I shall point out in a few moments, liquor causes the premature death of about 700,000 American citizens every year. This entails an economic loss of about five billions. [The estimate of 700,000 is almost certainly a vast exaggeration, but it is interesting to see that spurious cost estimates (such as the recent report on obesity) have a long pedigree - CJS]
I call attention of members to the charts that show that liquor is causing the bulk of the crime, pauperism, and insanity and, leaving the support of these upon the public, causes a burden in direct taxation upon the American people of nearly two billions. Taking away from our people, as pointed out above, two and one-half billions, the sum total of the economic burden laid upon the shoulders of the nation approximates the total sum of about $16,000,000,000. We call the federal government extravagant when it lays a burden of one billion for purposes of uplift and we stand by complacently as liquor places a burden of sixteen billions for purposes of degeneracy and destruction, and there are some so deluded as to imagine that the government should encourage liquor because of the paltry two hundred and odd millions of revenue [note the false comparison between personal income forgone and government revenue - CJS]. Let no enlightened member talk about the need of liquor revenues. I say to him what Mr. Gladstone said to the deputation of brewers who made the same claim:
'Give me a sober people who do not waste their substance on strong drink and I will find ready means of raising the necessary revenues for their government.'
The liquor trust through its vast hordes of money corrupts our elections, not only to control the results in wet and dry campaigns, but the election of officers and political parties subservient to liquor interests. In many wet and dry campaigns bankers have been put under duress and required to notify farmers, merchants, and other business men that they would call in their loans if the elections went dry. [This is rich. The Anti-Saloon League were masters of political intimidation - CJS]
The growing degenerate vote directly due to liquor is now menacing not only the elections in our great cites, but in the states that have large cities, and even in the nation itself. Liquor not only creates this degenerate vote, but it also keeps a corruption fund available to purchase that vote, and does not hesitate to spend vast sums for this purpose. In this way it stands with club in hand over politicians and political parties.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find the menace of this great blighting influence in our political life, by which our elections cannot be normal and political forces cannot follow in their normal course without cross currents and counter currents. It is vain to hope for honest elections until the country is dry.
The liberties and institutions of a free people must depend for their perpetuity upon the average standard of character of the electorate. In America where we have manhood suffrage the degeneracy produced, particularly in big cities, is undermining the foundations of our institutions.
It is this same lowering of the average standard of character of the citizenship in the past that entailed the overthrow of the liberties of Greece and Rome and other republics. It seems rather ironical for liquor men to call upon the name of liberty. [Redefining liberty is a common tactic of prohibitionists for obvious reasons - CJS]
Through control of political parties and politicians and from the supply of needed revenues liquor gets a strangle hold upon the government, and for ages governments have largely looked to liquor to supply revenues and give support for continuance in power.
It is a clear sign of the times to note the general change of attitude of the governments of Europe toward liquor. All governments should now be in full possession of the findings of science as to the real nature of alcohol, consequently when the general war broke out in Europe the governments, though in great need of revenues, promptly took advantage of the powers conferred under martial law to strike liquor a deadly blow [though not quite a 'deadly blow', the belligerent countries did indeed curtail alcohol sales - CJS].
Shortly after the promulgation of martial law the Russian government, in spite of the loss of hundreds of millions in revenue, issued a proclamation to compel prohibition of the national drink — vodka. This order has been made permanent and, broadly speaking, the Russian empire is to remain dry forever [prohibition in Russia was repealed in the 1920s - CJS].
The French government likewise issued a proclamation of prohibition of the manufacture and sale of absinthe, and has since extended this to include other distilled liquors [the green fairy was legalised in France only recently - CJS].
After the proclamation of martial law the German government closed down the breweries throughout the empire and has promulgated drastic measures for prohibition in the war zone of the east. When a child is born in Germany the government sends a card to the mother warning against the deadly nature of alcohol. When a child enters public school in Berlin the Prussian government sends an anti-alcohol card to the father and mother by the child.
It seems too bad that the Germans who have cast their lot in America should not have caught the progressive spirit of the fatherland. Eight hundred German scientists, 116 of them professors in German universities, have made a unanimous report on the nature of beverage alcohol, recommending its complete elimination. A German staff physician of the German army has announced that "we should not discuss moderation with a man. The thing has long since been settled by science. The use of narcotic poisons is simply indecent and criminal."
It should be a source of humiliation to well-informed Americans that our government shows no indications of change of attitude toward liquor. Our need for revenue is much less than that of the nations at war, and yet in sections 1 and 2 of the revenue bill recently passed we turned to liquor for nearly one-half the total amount, strengthening the hold of liquor upon the finances of the government [the government's dependence on alcohol taxes had actually been broken when the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 - CJS]. Liquor has the same stranglehold upon the throat of our government today that slavery had before 1860. Congress has not permitted the cotton planter to deposit his cotton in bond, but it has done everything for the distiller so he can place his liquor in bond and on these warrants get financial advances.
The first finding of science that alcohol is a protoplasmic poison and the second finding that it is an insidious, habit-forming drug, though of great importance, are as unimportant when compared with the third finding, that alcohol degenerates the character of men and tears down their spiritual nature. Like the other members of the group of oxide derivatives of hydrocarbons, alcohol is not only a general poison, but it has a chemical affinity or deadly appetite for certain particular tissues. Strychnine tears down the spinal cord. Alcohol tears down the top part of the brain in a man, attacks certain tissues in an animal, certain cells in a flower. It has been established that whatever the line of a creature's evolution alcohol will attack that line. Every type and every species is evolving in building from generation to generation along some particular line. Man is evolving in the top part of the brain, the seat of the will power, the seat of the moral senses, and of the spiritual nature, the recognition of right and wrong, the consciousness of God and of duty and of brotherly love and of self-sacrifice. [Most of this is nonsense, though there is evidence that links alcoholism to frontal lobe dysfunction - CJS]
All life in the universe is founded upon the principle of evolution. Alcohol directly reverses that principle. Man has risen from the savage up through successive steps to the level of the semi-savage, the semi-civilized, and the highly civilized. [Here comes the racism - CJS]
Liquor promptly degenerates the red man, throws him back into savagery. It will promptly put a tribe on the warpath.
Liquor will actually make a brute out of a negro, causing him to commit unnatural crimes.
The effect is the same on the white man, though the white man being further evolved it takes longer time to reduce him to the same level. Starting young, however, it does not take a very long time to speedily cause a man in the forefront of civilization to pass through the successive stages and become semi-civilized, semi-savage, savage, and, at last, below the brute.
The spiritual nature of man gives dignity to his life above the life of the brute. It is this spiritual nature of man that makes him in the image of his Maker, so that the Bible referred to man as being a little lower than the angels. It is a tragedy to blight the physical life. No measure can be made of blighting the spiritual life. [A strange combination of evolutionary science and scripture - CJS]
Nature does not tolerate reversing its evolutionary principle, and proceeds automatically to exterminate any creature, any animal, any race, any species that degenerates. Nature adopts two methods of extermination— one to shorten the life, the other to blight the offspring.
Alcohol, even in small quantities, attacks all the vital organs and the nervous system, the tissues, and the blood. A large percentage of premature deaths arising from disease are due to this cause. The attack on the blood lowers the efficiency of the white blood corpuscles to destroy the disease germs, exposing the drinker far more than the abstainer to the ravages of consumption, pneumonia, typhoid, and other germ diseases. The records of insurance companies show that in the periods from twenty-five to forty-five the mortality of total abstainers is only a fraction of that of the average. This means that the bulk of deaths in young manhood are due to alcohol. It means that people ought not to die in their prime any more than animals [animals frequently die in their prime, even in the absence of farming - CJS].
The records of the insurance companies show that a man starting at the age of 20 as a total abstainer lives to the average age of 65, whereas starting at the age of 20 as a moderate drinker he dies at 51, losing over fourteen years, or a cutting down of nearly one-third of his days [this claim was probably untrue in 1914 and would certainly be untrue today - CJS].
Starting at the age of twenty as a heavy drinker a man dies at thirty-five, a sheer loss of two-thirds of the span of his whole life.
We are dying at the rate of 1,000 deaths per 61,000 of the population. Total abstainers in our midst are dying at the rate of 560 per 61,000 of the population, though living under the same conditions. The latter figures are those applied to adult males as shown by the insurance companies' figures. Investigations show that the shortening of life of the offspring is far greater and more serious than that of the parent, as I will point out later, and since the adult males are the fathers of the young of both sexes it is on the side of conservatism to apply the proportion to the whole population, so that we can conservatively say that 440 additional deaths are caused every year per 61,000 of the population — deaths that are premature and unnecessary. This means that alcohol actually kills fully 700,000 American citizens every year.
When these figures were first printed they were subject to some ridicule and to many attempts to disprove them. Several German scientists have employed the same methods of reasoning, and the liquor interests of the continent have a standing offer of 6,000 marks to any scientist that can disprove the figures of the great insurance companies which are the foundation of this awful conclusion.
When the great Titanic sank in mid-ocean with her precious cargo and shocked the whole world, she carried down less than 1,600 souls. Alcohol carries down to a premature grave every day more than 2,000 American souls. [Comparing self-inflicted deaths with deaths from disasters was a popular tactic in 1914 and remains popular in 'public health' today; see below - CJS]
Mr. Gladstone in the maturity of his philosophy announced that "strong drink is more destructive than the historic scourges of war, pestilence, and famine combined." The old philosopher was eminently correct. Many battles have been fought in history for which there is no authentic report of the casualty, but of those of which there are records, from the Macedonian war, 300 B.C., down to and including the Russo-Japanese war, the sum total foots up to 2,800,000 killed and wounded, which, being apportioned, would make a little more than 2,100,000 wounded and a little less than 700,000 killed. Bearing in mind the qualifying circumstances, it can be generally said, therefore, that alcohol brings to a premature grave more Americans in one year than all the wars of the world, as recorded, have killed on the field of battle in 2,300 years [utter drivel - CJS].
When the great war in Europe is over it will be found that the sum total killed on the field of battle for all nations will average less than 1,500 a day [actually, it turned out to be over 10,000 a day - CJS]. Alcohol averages 2,000 Americans a day. Europe is really in the eyes of nature better off today in the midst of her great tragedy than she has been for centuries, because Europe is almost dry [not really - CJS]. The convention of life insurance presidents recently announced that Russia is saving fully 50,000 lives of her adult males per year from her recent prohibition order, which in a brief period of time will far more than make up for the soldiers killed in battle. No great nation was ever overthrown in war until after its vitality had been undermined by degeneracy arising from alcoholic dissipation.
When a soldier falls on the field of battle we all realize the tragedy, but in reality it is only his physical life that has been snuffed out. The bullet that pierced the brave soldier's heart never touched his character. When his soul rose to appear before its Maker it had no wound. But when the victim is stretched out in premature death from alcohol not only are his heart and other organs and tissues of his body wounded but the ghastly wound is the rent torn in his soul.
Civilized nations forbid in warfare the use of flat-nosed bullets that spatter in the flesh and bone. Alcohol uses dum-dums that not only spatter in the flesh and bone but crash into the soul.
I realize full well how cruel war is, having had friends of mine among Spanish officers, men who had been kind to me in prison, who had treated me like a brother, mortally wounded, dying in agony [Hobson built his prohibitionist career on his reputation as a war hero. See The Art of Suppression for details - CJS]. On board the Spanish wrecks shortly after the battle of Santiago I saw the dead men about the decks where they had fallen at their posts of duty. I realized they were brave men and good men, and my soul cried out at the cruelty of their being killed at our hands. I realized not only the cruelty but also the calamity of war, particularly when it overtakes a nation unprepared as our nation is; but if I had to choose one or the other of these two destructive agents, alcohol or war, I would rather see America, sober, stand alone and face the combined world; I would rather see my country, as defenseless as I know she is, face all the great armies of the world rather than to see this great internal destroyer continue unchecked his deadly ravages throughout our land.
Alcohol makes a deadly attack upon the organ of reproduction in both male and female, and upon the nervous system of the little life before birth in the embryonic period. One-half of 1 per cent of alcohol in solution, such as a future mother might easily have in her circulation in attending a banquet or fashionable dinner, drinking only wine or beer, will, oft repeated, kill the little life and endanger the life and health of the mother.
If both parents are moderate drinkers, drinking but one glass of wine or beer per day at one meal, the effect will more than quadruple the chances of miscarriage of the mother, increasing over 400 per cent the dangers and sufferings in maternity, and will nearly double the percentage of their children that will die the first year in infancy. The children of drinking parents on the whole die off four to fivefold more rapidly than the children of abstaining parents.
This means that scores and scores of thousands of little children die every year from cruel wounds inflicted upon their little lives before they were born at the hands of their parents who did not know.
If both parents are alcoholic one child in five of those that do survive will become insane before it is grown. One child in seven will be born deformed. One child in three will become epileptic, hysterical, or feeble-minded. Only one child in six will be normal; five out of six will be blighted.
On the other hand, if both parents are total abstainers, there will be no more dangers and suffering in maternity than in the case of other species ; and no matter how hard the lot in life of the parents may be, nine out of ten of their children will be absolutely normal. These children normally born will be easy to bring up, and, kept safe from degeneracy in their youth, will tend to rise one degree higher and nobler in character than their parents, following the line of the species evolution. If a family or a nation is sober, nature in its normal course will cause them to rise to a higher civilization. If a family or nation, on the other hand, is debauched by liquor, it must decline and ultimately perish.
Rome during long centuries was frugal and abstemious, practicing absolute Prohibition within its walls, and during this period we see the wonderful rise of the Roman Empire [not true - CJS]. When the Romans gathered into their great city and the youth gave themselves over to dissipation, we see the decline and finally the fall of that great empire. Similarly the other nations and empires of the past have risen only to fall.
We are all familiar with thoroughbred races of horses, dogs, and so forth, but who ever heard of a thoroughbred race of men? We know that great aggregates of plants and animals continue to rise, but a great nation is only born to die. Heretofore a nation has only been able to rise to a certain level, when, gathering in great cities, liquor has overtaken the youth and a great millstone has settled about its neck. Back it sank, never to rise again. We stand in the presence of this most startling discovery of science — that alcohol has absolutely disrupted the orderly evolution of the great human species.
Science has thus demonstrated that alcohol is a protoplasmic poison, poisoning all living things; that alcohol is a habit-forming drug that shackles millions of our citizens and maintains slavery in our midst; that it lowers in a fearful way the standard of efficiency of the nation, reducing enormously the national wealth, entailing startling burdens of taxation, encumbering the public with the care of crime, pauperism, and insanity; that it corrupts politics and public servants, corrupts the government, corrupts the public morals, lowers terrifically the average standard of character of the citizenship, and undermines the liberties and institutions of the nation; that it undermines and blights the home and the family, checks education, attacks the young when they are entitled to protection, undermines the public health, slaughtering, killing, and wounding our citizens many fold times more than war, pestilence, and famine combined; that it blights the progeny of the nation, flooding the land with a horde of degenerates; that it strikes deadly blows at the life of the nation itself and at the very life of the race, reversing the great evolutionary principles of nature and the purposes of the Almighty.
There can be but one verdict, and that is this great destroyer must be destroyed. The time is ripe for fulfillment. The present generation, the generation to which we belong, must cut this millstone of degeneracy from the neck of humanity.
What is the remedy for this great organic disease that is nation-wide and world-wide in its blight? Evidently the treatment must itself be organic and must itself be nation-wide and world-wide.
We can look to nature and find out in what organic treatment consists, for instance, in diseases of the body physical. In the case of a cure for such a disease the cure consists not in the curing of the old disease tissues, but in the growth of young tissue, and the very essence of the cure is to insure that the disease or contagion shall not extend to the young tissue, giving nature an opportunity to grow the cure.
The cure of the old drinkers is not nature's cure for such an organic disease. It is not possible by enactment of a law to make old drinkers stop drinking, to change the deep-seated habits of a lifetime. The amendment proposed in this resolution does not undertake to coerce old drinkers; Or to regulate the use of liquor by the individual [this is a lie. Prohibition sought to coerce everyone, young and old - CJS].
The cure for this disease lies in the stopping of the debauching of the young. Our generation must establish such conditions that hereafter the young will grow up sober. This proposed amendment is scientifically drawn to attain this end.
Upon this all must agree. A man may drink himself, but if he is a good man he would love to see such conditions established that the young hereafter would grow up sober. [One of the current euphemisms for tobacco prohibition is 'tobacco free generation' - CJS]
I call the attention of members to the chart showing that 68 per cent of all the drunkards had their habits contracted before they were 21, 30 per cent before they were 16, and 7 per cent before they were 12. Less than 2 per cent of men begin to drink after they are grown and settled down. [Note that these percentages don't add up to 100. Of course, most people do most things for the first time before they are 21 - CJS]. Some vast agent in our midst is systematically teaching the boys to drink and debauching the youth. Who is it that carries on this sinful business? Certainly it is not the drinkers. A man may drink, but unless he is a hopeless degenerate he would not teach boys to drink. I have known many drinkers, but I have never yet known one who made a habit of teaching boys to drink. This sinister agent is the liquor trust of America.
Tens of thousands of paid agents all over the land are carrying out this devilish work. The most deadly work thus far has been in the cities where it is hard for parents to keep track of their boys, but it extends to towns and is now being systematically extended to country settlements. The usual method in cities is to operate where boys come together, sometimes having the boys' rendezvous in saloons but more frequently in pool rooms and other places of amusement, sometimes on vacant lots. The boot-legger or licensed agent of the liquor trust arranges to have the boys drink before breaking up to be sociable or as a sign of manliness. To better influence the young boy who is just beginning a special drink is prepared called "Cincinnati," which is sweetened to appeal to the boy's taste. In some cases where it is difficult to reach the boys through agents, as for instance in the state of Oklahoma, the liquor trust has written to them giving them numbers so that without the knowledge of their parents, by mail or express, they can ship them liquor free. [Here we see the familiar claim that people only start to drink because Big Industry has manipulated them. Today, advertising is more often deemed to be the mechanism of manipulation. The logic of prohibition was that if you remove the industry, you remove the desire to drink. Prohibition exposed the inanity of this logic - CJS]
In order to effectively and scientifically solve this question we must discover and must remove the motive. What is the motive of the liquor trust in this vast debauching of the youth? Some have assumed that the motive is to harm the boys, blighting the homes, and degenerating society in general. On this assumption many have set about heaping abuse upon the agents of the great liquor trust. For my part I realize this is not the motive, that most of these agents are in the business to make a living, and that the business has come down in natural courses from the past, an occupation for which the whole of society stands responsible. Recognizing this, I have abused none; I have no bitterness ; I have no desire to harm any man's business.
Mr. John McCullough, president of the Green River Distilling Co., of Owensboro, Ky., one of the big liquor men of the country, has written to the big men in the business, suggesting that the wise thing to do would be to stop fighting and ask for terms on the basis of being allowed ten years in which to adjust their business and for the government to set aside 10 per cent of the revenue collected from the business every year, and at the end of the ten years for this fund to be used to compensate those engaged in the business when the business is closed. I have no authority to speak for others, but I do not hesitate to say that if such a course were pursued by the liquor trust it would certainly have my sympathetic consideration for statutory adjustment. The South could have received hundreds of millions of dollars for its slaves without war, but when it chose war it could not come back after war and hope to receive a dollar in compensation. The conditions are analogous for the liquor traffic, though liquor has no real legal vested rights, as held by slavery. If liquor continues its barbaric warfare to the bitter end, it need not come asking for compensation.
The real motive in teaching the boys to drink is to develop future customers. With a reasonably small outlay the liquor trust can develop this appetite in the young and when the young grow up with an appetite then as men they buy the liquor, over the supply of which the liquor trust has a monopoly. The large profits in the sale of their goods to customers thus developed is the real motive of the great liquor trust in systematically debauching the youth of the nation.
The real scientific way to cure this evil therefore is to remove the motive — the profits in the sale of the goods. Clearly, this cannot be done by undertaking to coerce those who drink, but it can be done by prohibiting the sale and everything that relates to the sale, particularly to the manufacture for sale. This can be done the more readily as barter and sale for profit have been subject to public control since the earliest days.
When the motive is removed and the liquor interests can no longer derive profits from the sale, then the great liquor trust of necessity will disintegrate. The debauching of the young will thus end and the young generation will grow up sober. In this way no effort is made to coerce any citizen. Some old drinkers desiring to stop will take advantage of the changed environment and stop ['making healthy choices easier' as modern public health zealots would say - CJS], and other old drinkers desiring to do so will continue drinking until they die, subject to local or state regulation or control; but when they die no new drinkers will take their place and the next generation will be sober. This method thus takes no chance of invading the sanctity of the home or the liberties of the individual. Some men may feel that they have an inherent right to drink liquor, but no man will feel that he has a right to sell liquor. The proposed amendment does not touch the question of the use of liquor, and partakes in no manner of the nature of a sumptuary measure.
Twelve decisions of the United States Supreme Court have declared that no citizen has an inherent right to sell liquor [this is an argument that is often used, as if the lack of a written right was absence of a right in a common law system - CJS]. What this amendment does is to declare that the liquor trust shall not for petty lucre continue to debauch the young; that neither federal government, nor state, nor any citizens shall fatten upon the weaknesses and miseries of the people.
In carrying out the prohibition of the sale, manufacture for sale, and all that relates to sale, the next question that arises is whether the scope of the prohibition should be limited to small units, like the town and the county, or should extend to the large units making it state-wide and nation-wide. It is good to have a town dry rather than wet. It is better to have a county dry rather than wet; but if prohibition is by the small unit, then wet towns and wet counties will be found near by, and the virus there generated will pass over continuously and reinfect the dry town and the dry county. It is a good thing to cut out one root of a cancer, it is a better thing to cut out another root, but as long as a single root remains it will generate the virus and inject it into the circulation and reinfect the whole system. As long as there is one state in the Union that is wet it will be the base of operations and source of supply for the national liquor trust, from which, through interstate commerce, to infect all the other states. Poison generated in any part of the body, projected into the circulation, will reach all parts of the body, and no part can protect itself. The states cannot protect themselves against interstate commerce, nor can Congress delegate to the states this power. The liquor traffic is the most inter-state of all business. Their organization is a national organization. It is dealt with by the national government. [In other words, states that have voted to stay wet must have their democratic decision overturned because a neighbouring state has voted dry - CJS]
Under our present system limiting Prohibition to small units the great liquor trust has trampled upon the rights of states, of counties, and of towns, and has taken pride in proclaiming that "prohibition does not prohibit."
This pose of the liquor outlaw that he is above the operations of local law is a complete and conclusive demonstration of the need of a national law. There can be no cure of a cancer until all the roots have been cut out, until no centers of contagion are left to reinfect. Local option in various forms, and even state-wide Prohibition, though valuable and useful, have not proved adequate. Our whole experience shows that Prohibition must be national. [After Prohibition came into force, the Anti-Saloon League set up an organisation to campaign for worldwide prohibition for the same reason, ie. to prevent 'contagion' from other countries - CJS]
If Congress, in the exercise of the taxing power, should undertake to establish Prohibition by statute, the great liquor trust would not permanently disintegrate, because what any one Congress can do another Congress can undo. Wet and dry elections would be continually following each other all the time, and the country would be wet part of the time and dry part of the time, and the youth would not have time to grow up sober — the remedy would only be superficial. [Clearly, the prohibitionists feared that people would use democracy to undo prohibition - CJS]
To cure this organic disease we must have recourse to the organic law. The people themselves must act upon this question. A generation must be prevailed upon to place Prohibition in their own constitutional law, and such a generation could be counted upon to keep it in the constitution during its lifetime. The liquor trust of necessity would disintegrate. The youth would grow up sober. The final, scientific conclusion is that we must have constitutional Prohibition, prohibiting only the sale, the manufacture for sale, and everything that pertains to the sale, and invoke the power of both federal and state governments for enforcement. The resolution is drawn to fill these requirements.'