Born Sober: Prohibition in Oklahoma, 1907-59 by Jimmie Lewis Franklin

By Jimmie Lewis Franklin

Prohibition all started in Oklahoma 13 years ahead of passage of the Volstead Act and didn't finish till twenty-six years after the remainder of the United States had declared the “noble experiment” to be a failure. whilst kingdom citizens repealed prohibition in April, 1959, they ended a fifty-two-year drought and disproved Will Rogers’ assertion that Oklahomans might vote dry so long as they can stagger to the polls.

What triggered this transformation of angle within the in basic terms country ever to go into the Union with a prohibition clause in its structure? Professor Franklin sheds new mild at the puzzle by way of describing the social forces that stimulated Oklahoma’s liquor laws.

When Indian Territory used to be opened in April, 1889, a wave of homesteaders swept right into a nearly lawless land. through the first chaotic years, saloons have been extra considerable than colleges and churchs, yet order was once quickly validated and the saloons’ days have been numbered. The reform routine that shattered American complacency in to the overdue 1800’s got here speedy to the recent territory. A decade later statehood, the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union demonstrated an organization carry in Oklahoma. Hatchet-wielding hold state organize headquarters within the territorial capital of Guthrie, introduced in a printing press, and released her unstable Smasher’s Mail. bolstered via Bible-belt Protestantism, the temperance move exerted a strong impact, an on November sixteen, 1907, the day prior to statehood, gutters flowed with liquor as purchasers rid themselves in their soon-to-be-illegal stock.

In 1933, after an extended, tough fight, liquor advocates received passage of a degree legalizing 3.2 consistent with cent beer. Repeal, within the kind of laws permitting package deal shops, got here in 1959. however the conflict nonetheless rages, now over the arguable query of liquor through the drink.

In addition to placing country liquor legislation in nationwide viewpoint, this social and historic account explains why any liquor query brings out the struggling with spirit in Oklahomans.

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He was wrong. 19 Although the destruction of the office could have been justified in the name of frugality, it is doubtful whether the usually economy-minded Cruce interpreted the move in any way other than as a direct blow to his appointive power. Disenchantment with enforcement during the Cruce period showed among drys and wets alike. Early in 1 9 1 1 , before the abolition of the state agency, B. J. "20 The superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League echoed the same sentiments in remarking that "it will not be seriously claimed .

1 8 The Yearbook of the United States Brewers' Association, 1909, 195. 20 Most liquor sold in Oklahoma throughout the prohibition period arrived in the state through inter­ state commerce. It was not difficult, then, to comprehend Haskell's fight to subject such shipments to the police powers of the state. 21 The Governor's letter was for­ warded to Taft's attorney general, George Wickersham. In a letter to the President, a copy of which subsequently came to Haskell, Wickersham pointed out that efforts had been made to enact legislation designed to limit the introduction of in­ toxicating beverages into those states which forbade or re­ stricted their manufacture or sale.

35 For comments on the amendment, see Harlow's Weekly, July 4, 1914, and the Daily Oklahoman, July 1 7 and October 13, 16, 1914. "36 The resolution got nowhere. Long obscured by the Anti-Saloon League, the WCTU re­ entered the temperance limelight by urging upon the Gov­ ernor and the legislature a scientific prohibition-instruction measure. The president, Abbie Hillerman, who had worked untiringly at the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, pre­ sented the bill to the House Prohibition Committee.

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