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|Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on National Prohibition - 1926|
THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW
HEARINGS before the SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY UNITED STATES SENATE - SIXTY-NINTH CONGRESS
April 5 to 24, 1926
(Starts on page 10)
STATEMENT BY HON. WILLIAM CABELL BRUCE, A SENATOR IN THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES FROM THE STATE OF MARYLAND
Senator BRUCE. Begot by, the abuses of the old saloon, and hastened to maturity by the economic necessities and uncalculating enthusiasm of the World War, and by the lavish use of money and political threats by the Anti-Saloon League, national prohibition went into
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It is not kept up more stoutly by what the prohibitionists, vainly seek to excite social disaffection and jealousy, call the smart social set, than it is by the members of the American Federation of Labor. It is not limited to any social class or sect. It has brought about close working relations between the bootlegger and thousands of the most intelligent and virtuous members of American society who feel no more compunction about violating the Volstead Act than the Free Soiler did about violating the fugitive slave law, or the southern white did about nullifying ignorant negro, suffrage, the Federal Constitution in each instance to the contrary notwithstanding And the ever mounting record of arrests for drunkenness in all of our American cities since the enactment of the Volstead Act indicates only too significantly that the humbler and less fortunate members of society have their illicit purveyors of drink too. The recent utterances of Jewish rabbis, Protestant bishops and ministers, and of Catholic prelates like Cardinals O'Connell and Hayes, demonstrate the existence of a growing feeling, even among the American clergy, that absolute prohibition is not the ally but the enemy of human morality.
General Lincoln C. Andrews, the head of the Prohibition Unit, said what can not be gainsaid when he declared last year that the bootleg industry is coextensive with our entire national territory.
From the extent to which prohibition monopolizes private conversation everywhere in the United States without or within doors from the amount of space that is given to its merits and demerits in the editorial, reportorial and news columns of our newspapers, and from the innumerable polls that are now being taken for the purpose of testing public opinion with respect to it, one might well imagine, at the present time, that the eighteenth amendment and the Volstead Act, instead of having been technically in force for
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more than six years, had never passed beyond the ordinary stages of popular agitation.
The explanation of this state of things is to be found, of course, in the fact that
prohibition in the United States, under the provisions of that amendment and that act, has
proved a disastrous, tragic failure, and aside from precipitating the end of the old
saloon, which would have gone in time anyhow, with the steady increase of temperance that
was under way when the eighteenth amendment was adopted, has had no effect, on the whole,
except that of blighting human happiness, debasing human morals, and discrediting human
laws. Once there was a time when it was commonly said that whether the States or their
cities failed to enforce their penal laws or ordinances, or not, the Federal Government
never failed to enforce its penal laws; and that was true, but it is true no longer, for
the fact has been established by irrefutable proofs that during the last six years the
Federal Government, effective as may be the ordinary course of its judicial procedure, is
powerless to enforce a statute, or even a constitutional provision that attempts to make
some thing criminal at all times, and places, and under all circumstances, that is not
essentially criminal per se, and therefore has no true moral sanction back of it.
Like cancer, which, in its last stages, seems actually to thrive upon the knife, violations of the Volstead Act may almost be said to have thriven upon the enforcement of that act. During the first 12 months after it took effect it looked as if it might work. The general disposition of every respectable man to obey the law, and the time that necessarily had to elapse before the opponents of national prohibition could recover from the dejection of defeat, the arts of home distillation and fermentation could be acquired and the establishment of a vast trans- and cis-Atlantic organization for the illicit distribution of drink could be perfected, all conspired to produce that result. But in an incredibly short period an entire underworld for the manufacture, sale, and distribution of drink was called into being, and with the patronage of the inextinguishable human want that it was created to serve has baffled every effort to subdue it. This fact can be convincingly illustrated by just a few figures:
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*Or at the rate of 42,548 for a full year.
It may be added that 70 per cent of these illicit plants and agencies were seized in the conventionally dry States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
This table does not include the great number of convicts committed to local prisons for short periods.
What the burden of enforcing the Volstead Act, since its enactment, has been to the Federal district courts, may be inferred from certain letters, written by the judges of some of those courts, to Senator McKellar of Tennessee, during March of the present year, and published in the Congressional Record of March 13, 1926.
Senator WALSH. Pardon me, Senator, I must leave for a few minutes.
Senator BRUCE. Yes. I have not got any hope of convincing you anyhow.
In one of these letters, the Hon. George W. McClintick, the Federal judge for the southern district of West Virginia, says that during his four years and a half of service, he had had before him about eight thousand persons charged with crime, of which about 80 per cent were for liquor violations.
In another letter, the Hon. C. M. Hicks, the Federal judge for the eastern district of Tennessee, states that about 90 per cent of the criminal cases that he had handled since his appointment in March, 1923, were prohibition cases.
In another letter, the Hon. Morris A. Soper, the Federal judge for the district of Maryland, states that in his district at least one-half the time of one judge could be continuously employed in the trial of liquor cases, and that a bill was then pending in Congress, authorizing
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In another letter, the Hon. John B. Sanborn, the Federal judge for the district of Minnesota, says that in his opinion, if he had to try in his court all of the violators of the national prohibition act who were apprehended in the cities of Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, as well as in the country districts, they would have to go out of business as a civil court altogether and devote themselves entirely to that work.
On February 15, 1925, Judge John F. McGee, a Federal judge for the district of Minnesota, committed suicide, leaving a statement on his desk which read as follows:
The fact is that the United States district court has become a police court for the trial of whisky and narcotic cases which the State courts should look after. These cases occupy 80 per cent of the court's time and are exciting and trying on the nerves, with the end not in sight. I started, in March, 1923, to rush that branch of litigation, and thought I would end it, but it has ended me.
Before the enactment of the Lever Art on August 10, 1917, which forbade the manufacture of whisky for beverage purposes, the entire number of licensed distilleries in the United States was 507; and during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1919, the last year when the production of beer for such purposes was permitted, the entire number of breweries in operation was 669. Under preprohibition conditions, there were practically no illicit plants except in certain secluded communities. During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1925 as we have seen, 172,537 illicit distilleries, stills, still worms, and fermenters were seized by the National Prohibition Unit, to say nothing of the vast amount of subsidiary property which was seized with them.
The same story of irrepressible law violation is disclosed by the record of arrests for drunkenness in the leading cities of the United States since the enactment of the Volstead Act. On the whole, the trend of these arrests has been steadily upward, with only such fluctuations as have been produced now and then by spasms of law enforcement, inspired by especially aggravated conditions. This will be shown by the following table:
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* Merged in disorderly conduct cases.
Every one of those cities show the same pronounced increase in arrests for drunkenness between 1921 and 1925. There is nothing local, there is nothing sectional, there is nothing regional about the phenomenon. That increase is manifest north, south, east, and west. In not a few of the 32 cities, north, south, east, and west, that I have tabulated, the number of arrests for drunkenness last year were even in excess of the number of arrests for drunkenness in 1916, before the enactment of the Lever Act, the first Federal prohibitory act.
The claim has been made that this record of arrests for drunkenness is misleading, because since the enactment of the Volstead Act police officers are quicker to arrest persons under the influence of liquor than they were before that time. This is certainly not so in Baltimore, the city with which I am most familiar, because the standing instructions of our police commissioner as to the degree of intoxication that justifies arrest are the same as those that obtained before the passage of the Volstead Act, and there is every reason, besides, to believe that Baltimore city policemen share the hostility to prohibition which is entertained by the great majority of the people of Baltimore. Even if different conditions exist in other cities, it should be borne in mind that, at the present time, drunkenness is not so visible to the policeman, however alert to arrest, as it was when drink addicts did not get drunk on bootleg liquor or home brew in the home, but on liquor at the corner saloon.
Even if arrests for drunkenness were not so numerous in our cities and towns generally in 1925 as they were in 1916, surely that fact is one which should not afford the prohibitionists any considerable degree of satisfaction. Puerile, indeed, not to say despicable, would be the power of the Federal Government, if in its war upon the human desire for drink it had exerted no contracting force whatever. It may be that the volume of liquor drunk in the United States at the present time is not so great as it was before the enactment of the Volstead Act; if, for no other reason, because marketed liquor of all sorts comes much higher now than it did before that time; but the contrary view has been urged with not a little plausibility, to say the
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Some time ago, Mr. Emory R. Buckner, the United States district attorney for the southern district of New York, expressed the opinion that prohibition might be enforced in the State of New York the Federal Government, with the expenditure of $15,000,000 a year, and the aid of 1,500 enforcement agents; but from the catechism, to which he has just subjected himself, I find that he is now of the opinion that the Federal Government can not be induced to take the necessary steps to secure Federal enforcement of prohibition in the State of New York, and that the State of New York, itself, is apparently unwilling to undertake the task. Indeed a bill providing for State enforcement has just been defeated at Albany. Like a sensible man, therefore, he has reached the conclusion that under existing conditions, Congress should modify the Volstead Act so as to permit each State to define what shall be deemed nonintoxicating liquor.
One thing is certain, and that is that even were the bootleggers entirely exterminated that would simply stimulate to an unprecedented degree home distilling and wine making. The still and the fermenter would become as common in the home as the spinning wheel once was. Anyone who is not a hopeless dolt can, in a brief time, learn how to make palatable liquor; and it is no unknown thing that even inmates in our prisons to be discovered making intoxicating beverages with the simplest mechanical and vegetable means.
A few days ago General Andrews said that his program was: First, to dry up the alcohol diversion leaks; second, to control the supply of medicinal whisky; third, to check moonshine and reduce smuggling; and, fourth, to force those who insist on violating prohibition laws to depend on home stills for their supply.
I am afraid that this program will leave the general but little time for, refreshing rest or healthful recreation.
The withdrawals of denatured alcohol, which the bootlegger is so successful in renaturing, jumped-terms of ordinary progression do not suit the case from 22,388,824 wine gallons in 1921 to 81,808,273 in 1925. That this enormous increase in the use of industrial alcohol found its a largely into the channels of the bootleg industry is unquestionable. The amount that did so in 1925 is computed by Henry T. Rainey, the well-known dry Member of the House from Illinois, at 55,000,000 proof gallons, notwithstanding the efforts of the Federal Government to render it too poisonous and nauseous for beverage purposes.
Diversions of denatured alcohol have, of course, been swollen by the fraudulent diversion in one way or another of pure grain alcohol, too, and sometimes such diversions have been accomplished by sheer robbery and violence,: as when a band of from 30 to 50 malefactors, none of whom have ever been brought to justice, recently took possession of a warehouse at Westminster, Md., bound its custodian, and carried away in trucks about 100 barrels of whisky.
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Moonshine, instead of being made as it was before the enactment of the Volstead Act, in a few crude, sequestered localities, is now made, as the daily discoveries of the Federal and State prohibition forces evince, in swamps, in mountain fastnesses, in dense thickets, on rivers, in attics, in basements, In garages, in warehouses, in office buildings, even in caves and other underground retreats. In other words, moonshine is almost as ubiquitous as the radiance of the moon itself.
It is stated in the last report of Mrs. Mabel Walker Willebrandt Assistant Attorney General, that during the Federal fiscal year 1924-25, and for a "reasonable" period of time prior thereto, over 300 foreign vessels have been engaged from time to time in smuggling liquor into this country. Throughout the same time illicit over and agencies have also been transporting liquor in large quantities into it, across the Canadian and Mexican boundary lines. By the Federal Department of Commerce the business of smuggling liquor into this country is thought to have amounted, in 1924, to about $40,000,000 in value; and so far as I know, there is no reason to believe that it amounted to any less sum in the year 1925. It is true that cargoes of great value are quite frequently taken from rum runners overhauled by the rum chasers of the Coast Guard. One valued at $100,000 was captured at New York a few days ago. Another, valued at $420,000, was captured in the same waters in January last, but incidents of this kind have, all along, been so common that there is little cause to think that the rum octopus will ever lack tentacles to hack. Indeed, every time it loses one at least two seems to spring up in its place.
I see it stated in the press that as soon as General Andrews has accomplished the objects above mentioned, he proposes to move on liquor making in the home. Indeed, he has just set his entering wedge for this purpose in the bill that he had introduced into the Senate last Friday by Senator Goff, of West Virginia. Of course, to be thoroughly consistent, he must not shrink even from the task of invading the sanctuary of the American home for the purpose of ascertaining whether a little home brew has become actually intoxicating or not; but certainly that is likely to prove the most tyrannical and inglorious of all the tasks that he will ever be called upon to perform. It is bad enough for the American taxpayer to have to pay the cost of maintaining a spy de luxe at the Mayflower Hotel, or to pay the salary of a sneak like the one in Maryland who recently wormed himself, by what were supposed to be honorable overtures of marriage into the confidence of a young woman for the purpose of inducing her to sell him a small amount of bootleg liquor.
As I see it, the end of American liberty would, indeed, be in sight if an organized system of espionage were to encompass the American home, which might not scruple even to solicit servants to betray the confidence of their masters, or to afford one member of a family an opportunity to wreak some festering grudge upon another.
Ever since I heard that even the home might not be spared by the enginery of the inquisition which prohibition has established in this
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The poorest man may in his is cottage bid defiance to all the force of the crown.
It may be frail; its roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storms may enter; the rain may enter; but the King of England can not enter.
It is sometimes said that the Volstead Act has not been successfully enforced because the Federal Government has not made a thoroughly sincere effort to enforce it. This statement is unwarranted. Never in the history of free institutions has any government more pertinaciously, sought to carry out a policy, obnoxious to a powerful popular sentiment, than has the Federal Government in its relations to the Volstead Act. If it has not had its way it has been only because of the vast amount of public hostility engendered by the artificial and impracticable nature of prohibition itself, and because of the extent to which the fidelity of many Federal prohibition and State police officials has succumbed to the corrupting guile of a secret and unlawful business conducted by daring And unscrupulous men, and patronized by reputable American citizens. Such an unnatural act is in itself an incessant incentive to faithless administration. General Andrews said last year that the bribery of Government officials is the chief obstacle in the way of the enforcement of the Volstead Act. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that the higher officials of the Federal Government, and the many brave and honorable subordinates in the prohibition service, have done and that could be humanly done, under the circumstances, to make national prohibition a success. Congress has upheld it with a degree of persistency which has even drawn down upon its head the reproach, however unjust, of extreme subserviency to the Anti-Saloon League.
Beginning for the year 1921, with an appropriation to the Treasury Department for the enforcement of the national prohibition act of $6,350,000, congressional appropriations to the same department, for the same purposes, have increased from year to year, until, for the year 1926, they have amounted, to date, to $9,678,734.09, and, when to this amount are allocated the shares of the total amounts now appropriated for the general expenses of the Coast Guard and the Department of Justice, respectively, which are properly chargeable to the cost of enforcing the Volstead Act, there is good reason to believe that the current estimate that the enforcement of that act is costing the Federal Government at the present time some $30,000,000 per annum, is not excessive.
Both, President Harding and President Coolidge may be said to have done all that they could in the exercise of their executive authority to secure popular obedience to the mandates of the act; the former even going so far as to call all the governors of the States together at Washington for the purpose of impressing upon on them the importance of insisting upon its clue observance; and the second, not only doing the same thing later, but also convoking at Washington a similar gathering of some of the great industrial leaders of the country.
As for the Supreme Court, the legality of the Volstead Act has been shielded by it from attack with the full measure of dispassionate impartiality that to its infinite honor it has always brought to bear upon the discharge of its high judicial duty, and surely only a most
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The disastrous and scandalous results which have followed the vain effort to enforce the Volstead Act may be briefly summarized. It has diverted into the pockets of foreign and domestic lawbreakers a large part of the immense tax revenue of $443,839,544.98 that the Federal Government was receiving from distilled spirits and fermented liquors in 1918, and that could be most profitably employed today toward the payment of our national debt and the reduction of taxation. Among the domestic lawbreakers are reasonably supposed to be not a few millionaires. Indeed, some of them have thriven to such an extent that their incomes have even become objects of cupidity to the Federal income tax department. That act has also led to the expenditure in Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas, the Bermudas, and Europe of millions of dollars, which, but for it, might have circulated in the channels of trade and commerce in the United States.
Senator REED of Missouri. Senator, have you any figures on the amount of that latter item? The amount of money we have sent abroad for liquor?
Senator BRUCE. I have not so far as Europe is concerned, or the Bermudas, or the Bahamas. In the very nature of things it would be very difficult to get at those.
Senator REED of Missouri. I know it would be.
Senator BRUCE. But I have a cautious estimate, made recently by a news Or writer Mr. Gilson Gardner, in regard to Canada.
It is believed by Gilson Gardner, the well-known newspaper writer, who has made a special study of Canadian liquor conditions, that of the total annual gross receipts of the Quebec Liquor Commission, 40 per cent, or the sum of $16,000,000, comes out of the purses of American visitors. It is thought that as many as 200,000 American tourists visit Montreal and Quebec each season, and that a large, if not the greater part of these migrants are drawn away from the United States by the liberal liquor laws of Canada. Compute also what they spend in Canada on other things than liquor and the magnitude of our pecuniary loss can be at least measurably calculated The Volstead Act has placed human happiness in more than one vital particular under the irritating and harassing domination of a sour, corrosive and narrow-minded Puritanism, which does not hesitate to avow its enmity even to such innocent recreations as smoking and dancing. It has for the first time brought the church deeply into politics, and helped to give point to the malignant observation of John Randolph of Roanoke, that are so badly governed as those that are governed by women, except those that are governed by priests. It has established a settled commerce between the worthier and the unworthiest members of the community. It has created an underworld almost as thoroughly organized to the respectable world above it. It is responsible for the unprecedented phenomenon of thousands and thousands of reputable men and women, including ministers of the law itself, living in habitual disregard of Constitution and low. It has tended to bring
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When the Volstead Act went into effect one of the vine growers of California killed himself because the prospects for his business seemed so dark. His prophetic outlook was poor. Since that time, the vine areas of California have been very much enlarged; and a ton of California grapes commands a price many times as great as it did then. Last year, before the 24th day of October, 60,449 carloads of grapes were shipped eastward from that State, the bulk of which the California grape grower reported were intended to be converted into "fruit juice." I say nothing of the many other sources within and without the limits of the United States from which grapes were shipped to points in the United States for the same purpose; nor do I say anything of the vast amount of corn, sugar, and other materials that are used in home brewing.
A year or so ago, I went down into the Italian quarter of one of our great cities on a warm, sultry, summer night, when the doors and windows were open, and at one point, the atmosphere was so strongly impregnated with the odor of wine in the making that I turned to my companion and said that a prohibition agent would not need any search warrant but his nose in that locality.
The Volstead Act has converted the Federal Government, with its denaturing outfit of poisons and filth, into a more monstrous Caesar Borgia than any that medieval Italy ever knew. In other ways also, it has filled the bowels of the people with deadly concoctions. The Metropolitan Insurance Co., which has 17,000,000 industrial policies holders, writes me that between 1917 and 1920, the year that the Volstead Act went into effect, there was a decided downward trend in deaths among its policyholders from alcoholism, but that since 1920 there has been an upward trend; the figure for 1925 (2.9 deaths per 100,000 policyholders) being nearly five times the figure for 1920 (0.6). In a report rendered last year by the State Hospital Commission of the State of New York it was stated that alcoholic insanity had trebled in that State during the five years of national prohibition.
The Volstead Act has diminished the use of mild fermented liquors and stimulated the use of ardent spirits. The proportion of the latter consumed by American visitors to Canada is said to be altogether out of keeping with the amount consumed by Canadians. It has displaced the temperate, refreshing glass of beer or wine with the fiery pocket flask. The champions of prohibition "are obliged to admit that drinking among women is rapidly increasing," Bishop Thomas Nicholson, Chicago, president of the Anti-Saloon League, was reported in the press as declaring at the thirtieth annual convention of the league at Washington in January, 1924. Who ever saw women
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"The Volstead Act has settled like a blight upon the entire joyous side of human existence," I had occasion to say quite recently, "and its acrid and intolerant spirit, at times, by a perfectly natural process of transmigration, reappears in the shrouded activities of the bigoted Ku Klux Klan." It has bred a spirit of hypocrisy worthy of the saintly sinners who, we are told by Butler in his inimitable Hudibras, "Compounded for sins they were inclined to by damning those that had no mind to." It has fostered deceit, perfidy, espionage, and tyranny, in some of its meanest and most hateful aspects. It has lowered the prestige of the Federal Government. It has even led more than one sober American citizen who gave his blood or treasure freely to our national cause, during the World War to ask whether our forefathers did not shed their blood in the cause of American liberty at Bunker Hill and Camden in vain. It has done more than anything else has ever been done to destroy the nice balance between State sovereignty and the National sovereignty which the framers of the Federal Constitution wise wisely and beneficently devised. Its infatuated devotees have not even stopped short of petitioning the President to use the military arm of the Federal Government for the purpose of promoting its visionary objects, and more than one peaceful and reputable citizen, like the late Mr. Holt of Raleigh, N. C., have been shot down in cold blood by it's agents.
Worst of all is the extent to which the Federal service has been defiled by corruption, hatched by it, In his recent review in the New York Times of the means by which national prohibition was achieved, Mr. Wayne B. Wheeler, the general counsel of the Anti-Saloon League, tells us that he and his fellow prohibitionists early adopted the rule of making it safe for a candidate to be a dry, and that in prosecuting this rule, their expenses at one time amounted to about $2,500,000 a year; a sum well calculated, it must be admitted, to impart a sense of safety to the breast of a legislative candidate when he decided to espouse the prohibition cause. A valuable addition to this policy of "safety first" was the provisions of the Volstead Act which craftily bestowed upon the farmer the exceptional privilege of setting up ferments in fruit juices without regard to the wholly artificial standard of one-half of 1 percent which the act im-
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The result of this exception has been pithily stated by that eminent Citizen, William Dudley Foulke, the former member of the United States Civil Service Commission, and once, at any rate, a prohibitionist. "They secured," he said "the passage of the law with the clause in it, and thereby made all these places the spoils of Congressmen, many of whom unscrupulously secured the appointment of scoundrels who accepted bribes, dishonored the service, and made the enforcement bureau what President Harding himself called it, 'a national scandal.'" These words were written in 1923. Since that time so many prohibition agents, including even some prohibition directors, and so many policemen and other officers, intrusted with the duty of enforcing prohibition, have soiled their hands with bribes, or been guilty of other gross forms of misconduct in connection with prohibition work that if all of them were known, nothing less than what Byron calls "the Recording Angel's black bureau" could undertake to list them all.
The corrupt prohibition agent or policeman is just as much a part of the bootleg industry as the bootlegger himself. Last year it took two Pullman cars to transfer to Atlanta the convicted policemen and prohibition agents corralled in a single round-up in Ohio. In May, 1925, a special grand jury in Morris County, N. J., was reported in the press as returning at one time 28 indictments against county officers and others for violations of the Volstead Act. About the same time, the Rev. Marna S. Poulson, superintendent of the New Jersey Anti -Saloon League, was reported in the New York Times as saying, in an address at a prohibition rally at Atlantic City, "I don't know of anyone who can make a dollar go further than policemen and dry agents. By frugality, after a year in the service, they acquire automobiles and diamonds."
Since the organization of the prohibition service to February 1, 1926, 875 persons have been separated from the Prohibition Unit mostly for official faithlessness or downright rascality. Nor does the total that I have given include delinquents not dismissed but only allowed to resign. Neither has the Coast Guard, that nursing mother of brave and devoted men, military as its discipline is, by any means escaped the contamination of prohibition. Since the duty was assigned to it of preventing the smuggling of liquor from the sea into the United States, 7 temporary warrant officers, 11 permanent enlisted men, and 25 temporary enlisted men have been convicted of yielding, in one form or another, to the seductions of money or liquor in connection with prohibition work. I am unable to say how many members of the force have been arrested but not convicted. On December 10, 1925, a United Press dispatch reported that the entire crews of two Coast Guard patrol boats which had been assigned to patrol duty off the coast of Florida had been court-martialed for conniving with bootleggers. On March 8, 1926, a dispatch to the New York Times from Providence, R. I., announced that Capt. Eli Sprague, who had been for 12 years the commander of the New Shoreham (Block Island) Coast Guard station, and had shared in the
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In view of what I have said, it is not surprising that Dr. Horace Taft, head master of the Taft School at Watertown and brother of Chief Justice Taft, should have said a few days ago at a law-enforcement meeting at Yale, "The United States is threatened with the rotting of her moral foundations and of her political and social structure as a direct result of prohibition."
The Manufacturer's Record, of Baltimore, has given, with the aid of the general prohibition propaganda, wide currency to the statement that in 1917 Judge E. H. Gary, of the United States Steel Corporation, Frank A. Vanderlip, Thomas A. Edison, and a thousand other leading men of affairs signed a memorial expressing the opinion that the time bad come for the Federal Government to take steps looking to prohibition; that in 1922 the Record addressed a letter to each of the memorialists, asking him whether he still favored prohibition; that only 7 per cent of the replies to these letters declared in favor of wine and beer, and that in 1925 similar letters were sent by the Record to the same persons, and that the replies to these letters were overwhelmingly in favor of prohibition. In other words, the Dutch had captured and were still in possession of Holland. These statements, have been analyzed by Mr. E. C. Horst, a prominent citizen of the State of California, and I have recently received from him a letter as follows:
To such proportions does the most pretentious bulletin ever circulated by prohibition propagandists in support of the claim that the vast majority of the employers of the United States are in favor of prohibition shrivel when exposed to the ray of truth. Nay, more, moved by the wish to probe the conditions surrounding the claim of the Manufacturers' Record to the very bottom, the Daily Commercial News, of San Francisco, obtained signed statements from all the 844 advertisers whose names appeared in the issue of the, Record in which only 7 per cent of the first replies received by the Record were said to have favored wine and beer. The result of the probe is published in the issue of the News for Wednesday, February 17, 1926, in these words:
These 844 advertisers are scattered throughout the United States. One fourth of the total number are in the Southern States, of whom 48 per cent responded, and of these, 60 to 61 per cent replied over their signatures that they
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It is confidently asserted that the extraordinary prosperity of the United States at the present time, as reflected in abundant employment, increased savings bank deposits, and the purchase of motor cars is referable to prohibition. At best, as I had occasion a short time ago to say, that kind of argument is founded upon such vague premises and fortified by such uncertain trains of reasoning as to be practically worthless. It is hardly worth my while to deny that the recent economic condition of the United States is not due to prohibition when there is no such thing as prohibition, or only such prohibition as unceasingly from year to year manifests itself in expanding criminal dockets and mounting arrests for drunkenness.
Prohibition does not exist in Canada outside of some of its maritime Provinces and Ontario, which, however, does not lack 4.4 per cent beer. Yet the economic welfare of Canada during the last few years, as evidenced in building and other, material activities, is so amazing that at times the Canadian dollar has commanded a premium over our dollar.
How is the general state of things that I have pictured to be corrected? I answer by frankly recognizing the fact that the human appetite for drink is just as natural as the human appetite for food or reproduction; that it can be regulated but not eradicated, except perhaps at a cost in terms of money and tyranny that modern civilization will not long endure, by amending the Volstead Act so as to allow the use of 2.75 per cent beer; and by amending the eighteenth amendment to the Federal Constitution in such a manner as to authorize the Federal Government to take over the entire management and control of the liquor traffic, so far as State local option shall permit it to be carried on at all.
This brings me to the consideration of what is known as the Quebec plan of Government liquor control, created by the alcoholic liquor act passed by the Quebec Legislature in February, 1921. This act provides for the appointment of five commissioners, known as the Quebec Liquor Commission, an official body which conducts the liquor trade in the name and for the benefit of the Quebec government. All the profits accruing from the trade fall into the consolidated revenues of the Province. The commission is given the monopoly of it, to the exclusion of all private interests in the Province, and spirits for beverage purposes can be imported and retailed only through its, organization. For this purpose the commission has established to date 90 stores, 40 of which are in the city of Montreal, and 10 in the city of Quebec, leaving 40 for the other cities of the Province. Spirits can be bought in these stores only between 9 o'clock in the morning and 6 o'clock in the evening on the first five week days and between 9 o'clock in the morning and 1 o'clock in the afternoon on Saturdays. Only one bottle may be purchased at a time by any one customer; and the liquor is delivered in sealed bottles, and must be taken away to be drunk at home. There is no place in the Province of Quebec where spirits can legallybe bought by the glass and drunk on the spot.
Regulations as to wine and beer are much more lenient. First, as to wines. They are sold without limitation as to quantity in
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The purpose of, these arrangements to discourage the purchase of spirits and to encourage the purchase of wine and beer instead is manifest.
In addition to the 90 stores operated by the commission for the retail sale of wine and spirits, there are in the Province of Quebec 489 hotels and 59 restaurants licensed to serve wine and beer to their patrons at meals, 573 taverns licensed to retail beer to be drunk on the premises, and 1,238 grocery stores licensed to sell beer by the bottle to customers who are required to take it away.
The right of local option is jealously preserved Any municipality may by the action of the majority of its voters express its wish to remain or become dry. In that event, the commission can not grant a license within its bounds, but any person living in a dry district can buy direct from the commission one bottle of spirits at a time and any quantity of wine.
The greater part of the Province in area and about half of it in population is dry by virtue of local option, and during the four years that the Quebec alcoholic liquor act has been in force the respective importance of dry and wet territories and populations has not been materially modified.
The total sales of the commission during the four years of its operation have exceeded $72,000,000, of which amount some $25,800,000 has been paid to the Canadian Federal Government in taxes. During the same period the net revenue received by the Quebec liquor government from different sources, including sales, permits or licenses, and seizures has been around $19,800,000; out of which sum nearly $17,500,000 has been handed over to the, Quebec Government. Besides the commission has built up out of its revenue a working capital and surpluses amounting in the aggregate to $2,350,000. These particulars have been derived by me from a paper by Arthur St. Pierre in the Independent of October 10, 1925.
Even more satisfactory than the financial results have been the moral results of the system. One of its effects has been to diminish the consumption of spirits by promoting the consumption of wine, and thereby to help to usher in the social conditions which Jefferson had in mind when he said:
No nation is drunken where wine is cheap; and none sober where the dearness of wine substitutes ardent spirits as the common beverage. It is, in truth, the only antidote to the bane of whisky. * * * Its extended use will carry health and comfort to a much enlarged circle. Everyone in easy circumstances (as the bulk of our citizens are) will prefer it to the poison to which they are now driven by their Government.
In 1924-25 the sales of wine by the commission exceeded its sales of spirits by 23,814 bottles; while in 1923-24, they were less by 864,960 bottles.
Another effect has been to bring about a steady decline in drunkenness. The commission was organized on May 1, 1921. In 1920
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Of course, the Quebec liquor plan can not be adopted by statute in the United States because of the limitations created by the eighteenth amendment, but it could be naturalized in this country by an amendment to that amendment, and such an amendment is the one proposed in the bill introduced by me into the Senate, which is now before you.
As subsequently altered by me, it reads as follows:
Subject to present prohibitory provisions in the constitution of any State, and to laws heretofore or hereafter enacted in pursuance thereof, and to all existing local option laws in any State, so long as said provisions or laws shall respectively remain in force, the Congress shall have the exclusive power, with such enforcement aid as may be lent it by any State and be accepted by it, to regulate but not to prohibit or unreasonably restrict the manufacture, sale' transportation, importation, or exportation of intoxicating liquors, including the power to authorize any Federal agency that it may designate for the purpose, with the aid of such private business agencies as it may be authorized by the Congress to employ, exclusively to undertake and conduct, manage, and control the manufacture, sale, and distribution of such liquors; but, with the approval of a majority of the voters in any county, parish, or incorporated city or town in any State upon which this article shall at the time be operative, at a special election held for the purpose, the legislature of such State shall have the Power to prohibit the manufacture, sale, or distribution of intoxicating liquors within the limits of such county, parish, or incorporated city or town.
The Congress shall be empowered to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The character of this amendment is almost too plain to require explanation. It confers upon Congress the power to enact a plan of liquor control which, like the Quebec plan, would be a combination of exclusive Government management and local option. This power, however, is expressly made subject to present prohibitory provisions in State constitutions, and to State local option laws wherever they now exist, and to any local option laws that the States may pass in the future. Such laws could conceivably, by local initiative throughout the United States, be given an expansion that , with existing systems of state-wide prohibition in the different States would make prohibition, backed by a genuine popular support, as completely coextensive, with the entire territory of the United States as it is now supposed to be, but so far as the liquor traffic would not be swayed by State action, it would be controlled by the national authority under such administrative restrictions and safeguards that the old right to ship liquor from wet territory to dry territory, which was one of the chief abuses of the past, could be cut down to any limits that suited the discretion of Congress.
The amendment recognizes the imperishable truth that communities are never so obedient to the laws as when they harmonize with their own special historic backgrounds and social customs, usages, and habits. In other words, it provides for the right of local self-government which is the cornerstone of all true liberty. It conserves whatever is good in existing prohibitory conditions. It would bar out the old saloon. It does not surrender national control over
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In other words, it has in mind as administration which would cling to all the workable results of the long agitation for national prohibition, and yet adjust itself with easy flexibility to all the local diversities of thought and feeling, prejudice, and predilection, which necessarily distinguish such a vast domain as that of the United States.
Senator MEANS. Do you wish to inquire?
Senator REED of Missouri. I do not think I have anything to ask.
Senator MEANS. Do any of the other members wish to ask? Senator Bruce, have you any witnesses that are directly upon the question of your resolution?
Senator BRUCE. Mr. Codman and Major Stayton will take care of the presentation of our testimony. I thought I would be followed first by Senator Edge, and then he will marshal our testimony for us.
Senator MEANS. Very well. Let me announce that the committee will continue in session until 1 o'clock to-day. There will be no session this afternoon beyond the hour of 1 o'clock. If there are any persons in the room who desire to leave, to avoid confusion I wish they would depart now; if not, please remain and keep as quiet as you can, and we will hear Senator Edge.
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