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|Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on National Prohibition - 1926|
THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS
TESTIMONY OF HUDSON MAXIM, LANDING POST OFFICE, N. J.,
165 * * * * * THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW * * * * *
Doctor WOODWARD. In the first place we doubt whether the regulation that stretches that quantity to cover external as well as internal use is a fair interpretation of the law. The Volstead Act expressly mentions internal use. One of the other regulations is that which requires us to put on the stubs of our prescription blanks the nature of the illness from which the patient suffers. That is a regulation. it is not in the Volstead Act itself, however, that we shall keep a record book showing the nature of the illness.
Senator REED of Missouri. Since you are limited to one-half pint of alcohol in 10 days is it not frequently necessary to use that much in external use in one day?
Doctor WOODWARD. It would be if we did not have a substitute, denatured alcohol, alcohol rubs, and things of that sort. Otherwise one-half pint would go a very short distance.
Senator HARRELD. That leads me to ask this: To what extent have physicians discovered substitutes for whisky in the treatment of diseases?
Doctor WOODWARD. I do not believe we can say we have any substitute for whisky in treating diseases.
Senator HARRELD. I meant substitute for alcohol.
Doctor WOODWARD. Well, I should have said alcohol. Alcohol has certain properties that nothing else seems to have, And as to the use of those properties in any particular case of illness, the attending physician must decide.
Senator REED of Missouri. That is all I wished.
Senator MEANS. We thank you, Doctor Woodward.
Mr. CODMAN. If the committee are willing to sit and hear one more witness to-night I have one I should like to present.
Senator MEANS (the chairman of the subcommittee). I think we will.
Senator REED of Missouri. I am willing to sit until 10.30 o'clock.
Mr. CODMAN. I wish to present Mr. Hudson Maxim, who wishes to address the committee.
Senator MEANS. We have had the rule to have witnesses sworn.
Mr. MAXIM. I will be glad to be sworn.
Senator MEANS. Stand up, if you please. You do solemnly swear before the ever-living God that in the matter now under hearing before this subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
Mr. MAXIM. I will.
Senator MEANS. Will you be so kind as to give your name?
Mr. MAXIM. My name is Hudson Maxim.
Senator MEANS. And your address.
Mr. MAXIM. My address is Landing post office, N. J.
TESTIMONY OF HUDSON MAXIM, LANDING POST OFFICE, N. J.
Senator MEANS. You may go right ahead with your testimony.
Senator REED of Missouri. You are the inventor of the Maxim gun and other firearms, are you not?
Mr. MAXIM. No; I am the inventor of smokeless cannon powder and maximite a high explosive and a fuse adopted by the Army and the Navy. There is the smokeless cannon powder I invented. [Holding up a small bottle before the committee.]
Mr. MAXIM. I know you do. I have here a statement that I have prepared, and I have a copy of the statement which I will give to the committee. And now I have here an abbreviated copy, because I do not want to take your time to give all of this, but will just touch the high spots and with your permission there is the complete thing which I will leave with you.
Since the passage of the eighteenth amendment and the Volstead Act, creating nation-wide prohibition of the manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic liquors in the United States of America, I have devoted myself rather diligently to the investigation and study of the subject of prohibition from every aspect, in the hope of being able to render some service in the defense of personal liberty.
I am a native of the State of Maine, where the experiment of prohibition was first tried, under the Neal Dow law, which went into effect in 1851--- two years before I was born. I am now 73 years of age, and have, therefore, had an opportunity of seeing the effects of prohibition in my native State for more than half a century.
Prohibition has never prevented the wide distribution of alcoholic liquors throughout the State of Maine and their sale through bootleggers and speak-easies in every city; while the Maine farmer, of course, brews his hard cider and he will sit in the long winter evenings and sip the same and tell you that he has always been a strict temperance man, a teetotaler, and a prohibitionist.
Herbert Spencer, commenting on the Maine law, made this statement:
The Maine law prevents the obtainment of stimulants by travelers in urgent need of them, but does not prevent secret drinking by residents.
We must uncover the bare-boned facts, in order to disclose the underlying truth about prohibition.
It is necessary, therefore, to proceed with scientific method, without emotion and without prejudice, and recognize and face facts as we find them.
Far beyond the dawn of human history, the progenitors of the great white race were brewers and hearty drinkers of alcoholic liquors--- the same great white race that has discovered and conquered all of the lands of the seven seas and given to the world all that we know of civilization and progress.
There has always been alcohol in the blood of world-conquering world-enlightening manhood.
A densely ignorant and superstitious Arab camel-driver, by the name of Mohammed, fastened the shackles of prohibition of alcoholic liquors upon the people of western and southern Asia and northern Africa; and his followers probably equal in numbers all the people of the great white race.
But why and what are they? These Mohammedans are the underwhelms of the world, with which the white race plays battledore and shuttlecock.
What are the actual physical effects of alcohol upon the human organism?
Alcohol is the medicine par excellence that brings comfort and well-being. Alcohol is the greatest inhibitor in the world of mind preoccupations and mind-wearying cares. It shields and protects the mind from mental distractions and brings rest and induces recuperation.
At the day's end a drink of alcoholic liquor of some kind with many persons, either with their dinner or afterwards, or both, is very necessary--- with some persons it is absolutely indispensable.
As I have said, I am 73 years of age, I have never been drunk in my life, but I happen to be one of those to whom the medicinal use of alcoholic liquors, especially as an aid to digestion and to throw off a cold when I feel one coming on, is absolutely indispensable.
I have not had a cold in three years, simply because I have, when I felt a cold coming on, fortified myself against it by the judicious use of alcoholic liquors. Ale, porter, and stout are both food and medicine for invalids and the aged. Physicians both here and in England have recommended to me that I take ale, porter, or stout, for their blood building effects, but I can obtain none here.
It is a fact that next to fire the discovery of alcohol was the most important and useful of all the discoveries in the life history of mankind.
Alcohol is more intimately linked with our well-being, and we are more dependent upon it than upon any other discovery except fire.
Alcohol is the lifeblood of the arts and sciences.
Alcohol is a normal and ever-present constituent of our food in the process of digestion. The human stomach is the greatest brewery in the world.
All carbohydrates or foods rich in starch, such as potatoes, bread, rice, and various cereals, are in the process of digestion converted into sugar, which in turn is largely converted into alcohol, which enters the blood along with the other nutritive elements of the food.
Persons who deny themselves the use, of alcoholic liquors and restrict themselves entirely to nonalcoholic beverages are nearly always liberal consumers of sweet drinks and are large eaters of starches and sugar, which they take for the stimulating effects and sense of well-being produced by the alcohol generated in the system.
A person who takes a drink of alcohol liquor gets the same result without burdening his digestion with additional sugar.
We find the ardor of the prohibitionists in their war against alcohol is generally in direct proportion to their ignorance of the
nature and uses of alcohol. Most prohibitionists have concerned themselves little or not at all about the beneficial uses of alcohol, They have been concerned only with the evils of its abuses, and these they have exaggerated until there is hardly a modicum of truth in what they say about alcohol.
In fact, they have come to consider alcohol as a spirit of evil and their war against alcohol is looked upon by the prohibition fanatics as a veritable holy war.
Many of the leading prohibitionists knowingly lie about alcohol without any reservation whatever.
Physicians in the pay of prohibition have been induced falsely to declare that alcohol has no medicinal qualities whatsoever--- that it has no place in medicine; while as a matter of fact, it is the most useful of all medicines in the whole range of the pharmacopoeia.
For the treatment of colds, influenza, pneumonia, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, alcohol is a sovereign remedy.
In order to throw off a cold, it is necessary to take something or do something to relieve the internal organs from the blood pressure there, and to induce the blood to flow to the surface of the body.
Alcohol is the only remedy that will do this that I know anything about. It sends the blood to the surface of the body, induces perspiration and opening of the pores and relieves the blood pressure of the internal organs; and while producing a sense of warmth and well being, it lowers the actual temperature of the body, subdues fever, and quiets delirium.
Beer is acknowledged to be the most useful and indispensable galactagogue in the world.
There is one point about the use of alcoholic liquors which is the source of more misunderstanding and misstatement and unwisely directed effort than any other, and it is the meaning of the words intoxicant and intoxicating.
The eighteenth amendment to the Constitution provides that:
After one year from the ratification of this article, the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
The Standard Dictionary defines "intoxicant" as:
That which intoxicates, as alcohol, opium, or hashish; hence, anything that unduly exhilarates or excites.
To make drunk, to inebriate; to excite or to stupefy by strong drink or by a narcotic substance.
The Century Dictionary has practically the same definition as the Standard and Webster's; and the Oxford Dictionary--- the largest in the world--- uses the word "drug" instead of narcotic in defining "intoxicate," and it is to be noted that it places the word "drug" ahead of the word "alcoholic."
This is the Oxford definition:
To stupefy or excite with a drug or alcoholic liquor.
I have consulted some of the very best legal authorities in the State and the Nation, and they advise me that I am perfectly right in the
conclusion that this provision of the eighteenth amendment prohibits the beverage use of tea and coffee as actually as it prohibits the beverage use of alcoholic liquors.
it makes no difference whatever that he who drew that provision of the eighteenth amendment may have meant to say alcoholic intoxicating liquors; and forgot or neglected to put in the word alcoholic. The fact remains that there is the law, written into the Constitution of the country.
An intoxicating liquor, whether it be alcoholic or narcotic, is intoxicating only when taken in such quantity as to have a toxic or poisonous effect. When taken in any quantity not sufficient to poison the drinker, it is not toxic, and is therefore not intoxicating. It is, therefore, a question of quantity as well as kind. It does not and can not by any possibility depend upon the percentage of the alcoholic content. A person may take a moderate drink of whisky or a cup of tea or coffee without being in the least intoxicated. He may take a bottle of beer with an alcoholic content of from 4 to 6 per cent without a particle of intoxication; while he may make himself sick and therefore intoxicated by overindulgence in near beer with an alcoholic content of less than one-half of 1 per cent, in which case his near-beer is an intoxicating liquor, just as actually as is whisky.
Alcoholic liquors are an indispensable necessity of the people--- a necessity grounded in their habits, customs, and usage from time immemorial. Prohibition attempted to take this indispensable necessity away from he people, but succeeded only in taking the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcoholic liquors away from the experienced, scientific, and responsible government-controlled makers and sellers, and broadcasting their manufacture and sale among the people all over the country, with the inevitable result that all members of the family worked on the home-brew and became testers and tasters of the material.
Consequently, the number of persons who became drinkers were multiplied manyfold.
Prohibition is a law generally looked upon as more honored in the breach than in the observance.
The dry law has become a school for law breaking.
Prohibition has made the boys and girls brewers, with very demoralizing results in numerous cases. Drunkenness among our young boys and girls has become a national disgrace.
The great Herbert Spencer always stood opposed to prohibition laws, and spoke of their evils from time to time. One of the most notable instances cited by him of the evil effects of prohibition was in the time of George II, when an attempt to suppress the drinking and sale of gin by prohibition resulted in enormously increased, but illicit, manufacture and sale of gin, and an orgy of intemperance, debauchery, and crime overspread the land until the law was repealed.
A year ago last summer I took a drive in my motor car up the Bootlet Trail to Montreal, for the purpose of making inquiries about the working of the Government commission for control of liquors in the Province of Quebec, Canada--- and also to get a drink of beer.
I called upon Prof. Arthur Saint Pierre, head of the liquor commission of the Province of Quebec. He is professor of social science in the University of Montreal, and is a very high type of man.
92101*-26 --VOL. 1- 12
I have recently obtained from him the Fourth Annual Report of the Quebec Liquor Commission for the fiscal year 1924 to 1925. According to this report, there have been less than half the number of convictions for drunkenness per hundred thousand of population per annum since the operation of the present liquor commission.
The liquor situation in Quebec is well set forth in an editorial in the Montreal Gazette of January 29, 1925, in commenting upon the Third Annual Report of the Liquor Commission. It is interesting to note that the Montreal Gazette is one of the outstanding English newspapers of Canada, and a bulwark of the conservative party, while the actual Quebec government is liberal, and the Quebec Liquor Commission a creation of the Liberal Party.
The following is the editorial:
There are other significant things in the third annual report of the Quebec Liquor Commission besides the pleasant announcement that the net profits on operations for the year ending April 30 were $5,764,370, a sum much better in the keeping of the provincial treasurer for application to public uses than diverted to the filthy hands of a gang of alien criminals, as it would be under any attempted system of total prohibition, not 'to speak of the heavy additional expenditure that would be demanded by the effort to enforce legislation which has proved, and is still proving, unworkable wherever it has been tried.
In the fourth annual report, dated November 1, 1925, the Quebec Liquor Commission calls particular attention to the fact that they have to report a considerable decrease in gross receipts, with, nevertheless
an increase in the volume of sales over the previous year of 32,245 gallons.
I quote from the report:
This increase is to be attributed solely to the growing consumption of the lighter grades of liquor. At the same time as the tendency toward a greater consumption of wine is accentuated, we also have to record a decrease in the. consumption of spirits.
The commission continues:
We consider it of the utmost importance that the information supplied by these figures should be placed squarely before the public. It has been asserted in some quarters that our control of liquor had encouraged a greater consumption of spirits.
The commission continues
The expansion of the tourist traffic, which has so greatly developed in this Province, invites our close attention to the improvement of hotel accommodation. This task, begun in 1923-24, has been followed up with no less vigor than last year, and new steps have been taken this year to increase the efficiency of this effort, from which we hope eventually to obtain the best results.
But prohibition has put a blight upon on the summer-resort hotel business in the United States. Many have been put out of business altogether. Those which do survive with a modicum of prosperity continue to sell alcoholic liquors on the sly.
If light wines and beer were to be legalized, the summer resort hotel business here would grow by leaps and bounds and numerous new hotels would be constructed, with the attendant upbuilding of the entire communities, bringing enormously increased prosperity to every business, trade, and profession.
At the, present time, under the blight of prohibition, the night winds whine and moan through the empty corridors of the summer hotels, and bats roost on the rafters, while their tottering frames are in a pitiable condition of dilapidation.
Very few new hotels of consequence are being constructed in summer resorts.
Those who would patronize summer hotels under normal conditions now largely become picnic parties, taking their liquor with them, parking their cars in groves of trees and under the trees along the highways.
Many of those who do not indulge in alcoholic liquors do not patronize the summer hotels because of the higher prices which have to be charged now that there am no profits to be realized from the sale of alcoholic liquors.
In place of the neat, prosperous looking tourist hotels, with their inviting, old-fashioned beer gardens, the motorist now finds on his jaunts into the outlying countryside that the landscape is marred by a succession of little, fly-by-night shacks, dance halls, speakeasies,
and hot-dog stands, most of them of the cheapest possible construction, which can be closed without much loss in case of a raid.
Whether these shacks are doing a legitimate or an illegitimate business, they are a sorry comedown from the comfortable roadside inn of preprohibition days.
With the return of light wines and beer, the vast numbers of persons who leave the country to sojourn in Canada and other foreign parts would return and repeople our summer-resort hotels, and our summer-hotel business would again flourish like a green bay tree.
Last winter I spent three months in London, England, returning home a month ago. I had a good opportunity of seeing how England gets along without prohibition.
There is much poverty and a large number of unemployed; but during my three months in London I saw but three persons under the influence of liquor. I traveled about London a good deal, and found nothing but the most respectable sobriety.
The most common drink is simply beer. There does not seem to be much spirituous liquor drank. There is a high government tax on whisky and brandy, making them quite expensive.
I visited many saloons, and found them clean and orderly. During the closed hours it is impossible to buy a drink anywhere, even at one's meals in a licensed restaurant, or to buy it by the bottle at a wine merchant's. The hours are strictly enforced, and no publican or wine merchant would risk losing his license. I have been told that the closing hours have done much to bring about the present sober state of affairs.
During the first three days after my arrival in the United States I saw four persons under the influence of liquor--- two in New York and two in Netcong, N. J.--- one more than I saw during my entire three months in London.
According to the Morning Post of London, December 8, 1925, Sir William Arbuthnot Lane, who had just returned from a visit to America, where he made many public speeches in the leading cities, said on his return that prohibition is a farce in America; that one can get liquor anywhere; that the poorer people get the poisonous stuff and the rich get the good stuff. He said he saw more people drunk in a month in America than he had seen in England in from two to three years.
According to the official police figures in the United States, and the English home office figures, there were from six to seven times as much drunkenness per capita of population in Boston during 1921, 1922, and 1923 as in Manchester and in Liverpool, England.
Nothing is and nothing could be more certain, from all the evidence, than that prohibition is an unqualified failure and a colossal calamity to the Nation.
Whatever promotes drunkenness and drug addiction and all forms of intemperance also promotes crime of every kind.
We have the unimpeachable evidence of our senses that certainly more than half the crimes and misdemeanors perpetrated throughout the land and sensationally featured and headlined in the newspapers are crimes which are the result of prohibition.
Prohibition is a double-headed hydra of lawlessness, for we have on the one hand the crimes that infract the law of prohibition, and crimes that result from alcohol and drug intemperance that follow in
the wake Of prohibition; and on the other hand we have the crimes of attempted enforcement of prohibition and the crimes of punishment, which are no less crimes because they have the sanction of expediency of prohibition law enforcement.
During all of the hundred and forty years after the birth of this Republic and until a few years ago the American people greatly prospered and constantly improved in education, temperance, and morality, and also became more and more law abiding.
Then something suddenly happened to change the law-abiding American people into the most lawless people in the world. Something happened to engulf the entire country in such an orgy of intemperance, debauchery, and crime as to stagger the imagination. Something happened which has, in a few years, increased the number of the criminally insane and the number of drug addicts more than tenfold and filled our prisons with lawbreakers till the doors bulge.
It is a significant circumstance that this great ethical and moral let down began with the beginning of Federal prohibition.
In the Literary Digest of July 5, 1924, there is the appalling information that crime in the United States of America cost the country more than $10,000,000,000 a year.
The prohibition enforcement authorities, acting on the principle of thief catch thief and criminal catch criminal, have, for expediency in locating sources of illegal liquor, employed persons best qualified to know where to find it, so the very lowest stratum of society has been gathered in by thousands and given jobs under prohibition as enforcement agents.
When a law-respecting and law-abiding citizen finds his home entered and violated in every possible way by a band of notorious thugs, lawbreakers, and malefactors of the worst sort, what is he to think of his Government, which will put a badge on the lapel of a burglar and cut-throat as a pass to enter his home? Now the badge of the enforcement agent replaces the skeleton key. That is his pass key, which lets him into plunder the home, or hold up the head of the house for graft as a price of retirement of the thugs.
A householder who resists may be shot down in his tracks, and if the murderer happens to be a Federal Prohibition enforcement agent, he may not only escape punishment, but even censure, because there is no Federal law against murder, although is a Federal law against taking a glass of beer.
We have had many instances of innocent persons going quietly about their business being shot down without warning on mere suspicion that they might be bootleggers. A little while ago a young engineer in Maryland was shot down in this way, and a little later a young farmer of 28, father of seven children, was shot to death by State troopers on the highway near Clyde, New York, in mistake for a bootlegger.
Prohibition enforcement agents to-day are notoriously the hardest drinkers and altogether most extravagant users and abusers of alcoholic liquors. In making raids they become intoxicated on the liquor seized. Often they appropriate seized liquor for their own personal use and divide it among them, and often they sell it. That is, they combine bootlegging with their prohibition enforcement duties.
Prohibition enforcement agents resort to every dastardly trick and expedient of misrepresentation and chicanery to ferret out prohibition violations and sources of liquor. They have even gone to the lengths of courting, seducing, and betraying young women to win their confidence, in order to get from them some concealed information that would locate a cache of liquor.
Prohibition is proven a colossal iniquity, and it is the duty of every American citizen to do his utmost to free the country from the blight of this infamous evil.
Many of the world's greatest men have spoken in the strongest terms against prohibition. Among the most notable, perhaps, are Herbert Spencer, already quoted, Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, President Harding, Robert G. Ingersoll, and Oliver Cromwell.
I will make the following quotations:
Thomas Jefferson said:
There is before the assembly (of Virginia) a petition of a Captain Miller, which I have at heart, because I have great esteem for the petitioner as an honest and useful man.
Jefferson Davis had the following to say about prohibition:
I will briefly answer the inquiry in regard to the prohibition amendment at issue. "Be ye temperate in all things" was a wise injunction and would apply to intolerance as well as to drunkenness. To destroy individual liberty and moral responsibility would be to eradicate one evil by the substitution of another, which, it is submitted, would be more fatal than that for which it is offered as a remedy.
What President Harding said:
In plain speaking, there are conditions relating to its enforcement (prohibition) which savor of nation wide scandal. It is the most demoralizing factor in our public life. (Message to Congress, December 8, 1922.)
What Henry Ward Beecher said:
To attempt to create morality by law is of all things supremely and superbly foolish.
I hold, therefore, that there is a personal liberty in this matter--- a domain that must not be invaded by sarcasms, nor by sundry obvious influences brought to bear upon us. Leave to every man his personal and individual liberty. Diminish his temptation by persuasion, by good reasons, and by kindly influence, but not by authority, not by coercion.
Prohibition automatically operates to produce results the exact opposite of those for which the law was intended. Instead of promoting temperance, law and order, and lessening crime, it operates enormously to increase intemperance, promote lawbreaking and crimes of every description. This must inevitably happen.
Just in proportion as prohibition interferes with the normal distribution and sale of alcoholic liquors, does the price necessarily go up to cover the difficulties, and to give the illicit dealer or bootlegger sufficient profit to induce him to take the extra hazard.
Just as there is, in the language of Napoleon, "No subordination in an empty stomach," so there is no subordination in a thirsty stomach; and people will have alcoholic liquors, absolutely regardless of the cost. More and more drastic prohibition enforcement laws, and more severe penalties, serve merely to cause a larger bootleg traffic in hard or spirituous liquors, and less in wines and malt liquors, because of the smaller bulk and greater value of the spiritous liquors.
Whisky at $10 a quart provides enough margin to corrupt a sufficient number of Government officials to let the liquor of the bootlegger pass through the cordon of the law to the customer, and to shield the bootlegger from arrest and prosecution.
Bootleg profits have served richly to finance the crookdom of the underworld and to lift the underworld up into politics, and bring underworld crooks and unscrupulous politicians into cooperation and mutual helpfulness. Now that is a very serious thing.
Prohibition enforcement agents, police officials, prosecuting attorneys, many and many of them, are subsidized friends of the bootlegger, so that law enforcement becomes a farce.
At the present time, there appears to be ample profit in bootleg whisky, applejack, and gin at $5 a quart to defray all the cost which the bootlegger must meet to get the liquor through to the customer.
If the costs and difficulties are increased by more drastic laws and greater penalties, then the price may be doubled, and it may cost the customer $10 a quart, or even $20 a quart. But customers will have it, even should it cost a hundred dollars a quart. Even if capital punishment were to be the penalty of making and selling bootleg liquor and also of buying it, it would still be produced and sold.
Babbington Macaulay, the great English writer, once said, concerning the smuggling of gin into England, that if a gibbet were erected every quarter of a mile around the English coast, and every smuggler caught were hung thereon, it would not suffice to stop smuggling.
Similarly, nothing in the power of law can possibly prevent the manufacture and sale of alcoholic liquors, for the more drastic the laws and the greater the penalties, the greater the chances the rum dealers will take, the greater dangers they will face, and the higher prices they will pay to corrupt and control Government officers.
If every bottle of whisky that reaches the consumer were to cost the color of human blood, it would still reach the customer.
That is all. That is all you care for from me?
Senator REED of Missouri. Yes. Thank you.
Senator MEANS. Let the record show that we have given on Monday two hours and three-quarters. On Tuesday two hours. On Wednesday morning two hours. Wednesday night two hours and three-quarters. Making nine hours and one-half.
The committee will now adjourn until 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.
(Thereupon, at 10.20 o'clock p. m., Wednesday, April 7, 1926, an adjournment was taken until 10 o'clock a. m., of the next day, Thursday, April 8, 1926.)
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