Friday, March 8, 2019

Why It Is Not Illegal to Drink Alcohol During Prohibition, 1919

From the editorial page of The Independent, Elizabeth City, N.C., March 7, 1919.

Prohibition With an If

I think I can explain why the Poole prohibition bill was so overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Representatives last week. The Poole Bill proposed to make the consumer and purchaser of liquor as guilty of crime as the distiller and boot legger. It made the purchaser or possessor of illicit liquor a party to the crime of the illicit dealer. And the house voted it down with a bang.

Mr. Poole and the Anti-Saloon League failed to take into account the fact that their most influential supporters are not honest. The big manufacturing and business interests of the South lined up with the Prohibition movement, not because they wanted prohibition for themselves, but because they wanted it for the working class. They thought they would get better labor by taking liquor away from labor; but they never had any idea of taking it away from themselves. Who does not know hundreds of men who voted every prohibition ticket with a wink of the eye, willing to put prohibition on the other fellow, but sure all the time that they could get all the liquor they wanted for themselves. I was in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida in 1907 when the lumber manufacturers of those states lined up for prohibition. And they drank a toast in rye to their resolution. Or was it corn?

And now the dishonest prohibitionist finds himself in anything but his old time idea of a pickle. He has been trapped into voting himself Dry. That’s why the General Assembly killed the Poole Bill—too few of them game enough to go the limit.

Yes! I voted for the Poole bill; I would have felt like a knave if I hadn’t.

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