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July 14, 1939

“NEW YORK, Thursday…A number of letters have come to me complaining bitterly about the fact that I said in an article recently that the repeal of prohibition had been a crusade carried on by women. I know quite well, of course, that the Democratic Party took the stand in its platform that prohibition should be repealed. I have always felt, however, that the women’s organization for repeal, which was a nonpartisan organization, laid the groundwork which finally brought about the vote for repeal.

I was one of those who was very happy when the original prohibition amendment passed. I thought innocently that a law in this country would automatically be complied with, and my own observation led me to feel rather ardently that the less strong liquor anyone consumed the better it was. During prohibition I observed the law meticulously, but I came gradually to see that laws are only observed with the consent of the individuals concerned and a moral change still depends on the individual and not on the passage of any law.

Little by little it dawned upon me that this law was not making people drink any less, but it was making hypocrites and law breakers of a great number of people. It seemed to me best to go back to the old situation in which, if a man or woman drank to excess, they were injuring themselves and their immediate family and friends and the act was a violation against their own sense of morality and no violation against the law of the land.

I could never quite bring myself to work for repeal, but I could not oppose it, for intellectually I had to agree that it was the honest thing to do. My contacts are wide and I see a great many different groups of people, and I cannot say that I find that the change in the law has made any great change in conditions among young or old in the country today.”

Click here for the complete My Day article.

1933 Repeal of Prohibition Footed Glass Bowl  (MO 2009.19.6)

 

During his 1932 presidential campaign, FDR promised to end Prohibition. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1921, prohibited the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the United States. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, a constitutional amendment to repeal Prohibition was already making its way through the state legislatures. Roosevelt acted immediately to ease Prohibition with the Beer-Wine Revenue Act. Passed on March 22, 1933, this act legalized the sale of alcoholic beverages containing no more than 3.2 percent alcohol (this level was declared non-intoxicating). Prohibition was officially repealed by the 21st Amendment in late 1933.

This large, glass bowl commemorates the end of Prohibition with a series of seven vignettes imprinted in white, including a “G.O.P.” elephant and a “D.E.M.” donkey celebrating over a barrel of beer.

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