IT’S A TRUISM of political dynamics that the party of change will always be more motivated than the party of the status quo. The latter may have inertia on its side, but inertia will not hold against the press of passion. Once the ASL, the WCTU, and the other antialcohol zealots acquired the support of other political movements that used the Prohibition campaign for their own transforming purposes, the results were catalytic. With so many allies, the drys could even welcome those whose interests were patently commercial and not worry about the evident cupidity. Among the new recruits to Prohibitionism were allies as disparate as Asa Candler, founder of the Coca-Cola Company (he was a teetotaler who also happened to see opportunity on the other side of the dry rainbow) and theater owner Lee Shubert (who was not known to be a teetotaler, but longed to see Broadway’s bars empty, their occupants relocated into his theaters). At last the drys seemed to be on the side of history.
Meanwhile, the Candlers and the Shuberts on the other side—that is, the distillers, the brewers, and those others whose wet passions were pecuniary—achieved little traction with their larger constituency: a nation of drinkers long accustomed to believe that the whiskey on the sideboard or the beer on the saloon bar were no more a matter of government concern than the butter in the icebox. George Ade carved an appropriate epitaph for the anti-Prohibitionists in his 1931 elegy, The Old-Time Saloon: “The Non-Drinkers had been organizing for fifty years and the Drinkers had no organization whatever. They had been too busy drinking.”
If there were such a thing as an archetypal American in the 1910s, he or she lived in a middle-sized town, attended a Protestant church, and had a few generations of native-born ancestors interred in a nearby cemetery. Even if one ignored the predatory brewers and distillers, it would have been difficult for this average American to find someone to identify with on the wet side of the political ledger. The most numerous of the wet activists were cogs in political machines that were both urban and ethnic. The most powerful wets were the “Standpat” Republicans in Congress, who generally opposed the income tax, the vote for women, child labor legislation, and anything else that transferred an ounce of power to the federal government or subtracted it from the plutocrats whose interests they tended to serve. Congressional opponents of Prohibition like Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts, Elihu Root of New York, and Henry Algernon du Pont of Delaware were not men whose interests resonated on Main Street or in Middletown.
With few respectable allies, the brewers, distillers, wholesalers, and dealers for a time attempted to recast their own sorry image. The brewers tried to represent themselves as honorable providers of nourishing beverages for the working classes, and the distillers loudly opposed the saloon and its accompanying evils. As Michigan prepared to vote on a statewide dry law, Detroit brewer George H. Gies distributed a series of advertising cards that attempted to assign to beer the virtues of mother’s milk. One depicted a handsome woman cradling a baby in her left arm and gripping a brimming stein in her right hand; the sunny couplet beneath the illustration read “Lager’s amber fluid mild, / Gives health and strength to wife and child.” In 1914 the National Retail Liquor Dealers’ Association endorsed the noble work of the Anti-Profanity League of America, whose founder, one Arthur Samuel Colborne, prowled the Manhattan saloons warning their habitués that “you start with ‘hell,’ ‘devil take it,’ ‘Dad Burn it,’ ‘Gee whizz’ . . . and by and by you won’t be able to open your trap without letting loose an awful, awful blasphemous oath.”
The brewers’ flight to virtue was only a side trip; the low road was where they were comfortable. They organized boycotts against companies that allied themselves in any way with the dry cause, even going so far as to put the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago on their do-not-patronize list because the Blackstone supported and conscientiously observed the state’s Sunday closing laws. Among other firms similarly blacklisted were B. F. Goodrich, because two of its officers had contributed to the ASL; H. J. Heinz, because its president belonged to a dry Sunday school association; and such other potent enemies as Cadillac, Procter & Gamble, and Western Union. After a Packard Motor Car executive publicly blamed the brewing interests for encouraging “the drunken darkies’ orgies and white slavery,” he was ordered by Henry B. Joy, Packard’s nervous president, to write a letter to the United States Brewers’ Association apologizing for his action, which he characterized as “a great injustice to the Packard Co.”
The brewers also invested in or purchased outright newspapers in Chicago, Newark, Montgomery, Washington, and other cities. Hearst editor Arthur Brisbane, who had long attacked liquor and campaigned for beer, turned out to be not as disinterested as he had once seemed: in 1917 he bought the Washington Times with cash supplied by a group of fifteen beer barons. Among the backers who provided their man Brisbane with the cash to build a platform (“We looked upon him as our agent in this matter,” said the general manager of the Miller Brewing Company) were gentlemen whose names were wreathed in the scent of malt and hops: Schmidt, Ruppert, Hamm, Pabst, and of course, Busch.
They also bore the unmistakable whiff of something else: the beer industry’s indelible Germanness. The Busches were especially attached to their ancestral home—so attached, in fact, that “ancestral” is a misnomer. Adolphus had been decorated by the Kaiser (who had visited Villa Lilly, the Busch family estate in Langenschwalbach); two of Adolphus and Lilly’s daughters were married to German military officers; and son August—head of the family after Adolphus’s death—threw annual parties at his Missouri farm in honor of the Kaiser’s birthday. Vacationing in Langenschwalbach in the summer of 1914, Adolphus’s widow had even chosen to remain there when World War I broke out.
The ethnic coloration of the brewing industry had been a bugbear of the temperance movement as far back as 1876, when Frances Willard referred to “the infidel foreign population.” To the brewers, of course, this population was their most reliable constituency; according to the United States Brewers’ Association’s chief political strategist, Percy Andreae, “the staunchest friends our industry possesses in this country” were “the millions and millions of falsely described foreign citizens.” Andreae, whose value was such that the brewers paid him $40,000 a year—the 2009 equivalent of $860,000—earned at least part of his salary by also serving as vice president and official spokesman of the American Association of Foreign-Language Newspapers, writing (and underwriting the translation of) pro-beer editorials for these papers—signed by others, of course. The brewers also bankrolled the entire cost of the Washington lobbying office of the German-American Alliance, a national civic group that the brewers transformed into a virtual subsidiary.
To the drys, foreignness was not an endearing quality. Many of the same progressives who battled the big-city political organizations, campaigned against the saloon, and supported labor unions also embraced the cause of immigration restriction. The partnership forged by the German-American Alliance and the Ancient Order of Hibernians “to oppose the enactment . . . of any sumptuary laws or laws abridging the personal liberties of citizens” was exactly the sort of political treaty that could make progressive blood run cold. Italian-Americans, who worked in conjunction with the GAA to oppose the Prohibition amendment, were tarred as well; Stanford chancellor David Starr Jordan darkly noted that although San Mateo County was “9/10 Anglo-Saxon,” he had determined that “about one-half the arrests for speeding, hit-and-run driving, or worse, are all men with Italian names, mostly from Naples and sicily.”
Xenophobia was yet more intense in the South, even though—or perhaps because—in some southern states the population was as much as 99 percent native stock. When foreigners showed up on their turf, many southerners recoiled. In Look Homeward, Angel, Thomas Wolfe described the small claque of wets that young Eugene Gant encountered when he accompanied his father to the polls. Outcasts in a dry-dominated town, “they had never been told they stood for liberty,” wrote Wolfe. “They stood rubily, stubbornly, with the strong brown smell of shame in their nostrils, for the bloodshot, malt-mouthed, red-nosed, loose-pursed Demon Rum.” In Atlanta, a bourbon-swilling thirty-five-year-old knock-about named William Joseph Simmons created the modern Ku Klux Klan just weeks after the lynching of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank, whose wife was the daughter of a former saloonkeeper and granddaughter of a liquor wholesaler. It was a later edition of the KKK that focused its venomous loathing on black people; this version had a special hatred for Jewish and Catholic immigrants.* The Klan, which supported woman suffrage in behalf of Prohibition, in turn supported Prohibition as a weapon against the immigrants.
This was obviously very fertile soil for the Anti-Saloon League. But Woodrow Wilson made it even more fruitful. He may have been indifferent to the ASL cause, but his own war-making propaganda was built around anti-European, particularly anti-German, feeling. When he went before Congress in 1917 to request authority to enter the war that had been burning its way across Europe for nearly three years, he had said, “We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling towards them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their Government acted in entering this war.” But a combination of temperament, upbringing, and political strategy had led Wilson to take a less charitable attitude toward some of his own country’s people. While preparing the nation for the war he wanted it to enter, Wilson had already launched his campaign of “anti-hyphenism.” Specifically, he set out to demonize some of those Americans who were “born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America.” Employing a provocative metaphor to characterize these enemies of the Republic, Wilson charged that some had “poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life.”
BACK IN 1912, when the formal push for the Prohibition amendment was launched, before the ratification of the Sixteenth (income tax) and Seventeenth (direct election of senators) amendments, the Anti-Saloon League’s leaders were setting themselves a historically daunting task. Except for the three amendments enacted during the aftershocks of the Civil War, the Constitution had been amended exactly twice in the preceding 118 years.
It was one of those Civil War amendments that posed the last roadblock to congressional approval of constitutional Prohibition. The South (with the exception of Catholic Louisiana) may have been the part of the country with the most intense antiliquor sentiment and the widest range of state liquor laws. In Alabama, for instance, liquor advertisements of any kind were forbidden, even in out-of-state newspapers that circulated within the state, an ordinance enforced with particular vigor by the bone-dry Jefferson County district attorney (and future U.S. Supreme Court justice) Hugo L. Black, who actually won a case against an out-of-state shipper by positing that the address labels on his boxes constituted advertising. But despite the white South’s general sympathy for the dry cause, its distinctive politics—particularly its regionwide attachment to the concept of states’ rights—compelled the ASL to devise a distinctive lobbying approach. It also required a distinctive lobbyist to carry it out. Enter the Reverend James Cannon, “the Dry Messiah.”
James Cannon Jr. was nasty, brutish, and short. He was also a frighteningly hard worker, as shrewd as a serpent, and untouched by Hobsonian vainglory. Shod in high-buckle shoes, his slight frame clad summer and winter in long woolen underwear, for twenty-five years he wore a beard, said a biographer, “for the sole reason that he had no time to shave.” William Randolph Hearst, who disagreed with Cannon on most matters, said he had “the best brain in America, no one excepted.” In time, H. L. Mencken would say that Cannon’s “merest wink [could] make a President of the United States leap like a bullfrog.”
Utterly convinced of the righteousness of his cause, Cannon could have been a Puritan in the age of Cromwell; instead he was a warrior in the age of Wheeler. He came from a well-off Maryland family, but his father’s loyalties to the South led the Cannons to move to Virginia during the Civil War. As a young man, Cannon traveled a few hundred miles north to earn two degrees from Princeton, then returned to Virginia to enter the Methodist ministry. By his early forties he had become one of the most dominant individuals in the public life of his state. Modest, too, after a fashion: “I do not remember that I ever attempted to use my influence with the Legislature,” he told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, recalling the years before he became a national figure, “except on measures pertaining to education . . . prohibition, gambling, vice, Sabbath observance, moving pictures, and child labor.”
Cannon’s authority couldn’t have emanated from a less likely seat. The Blackstone Female Institute, which he served as principal, was a two-year college in the south-central part of the state. He offered this advice to candidates for admission: “No young ladiesare wanted as students at the institute who are not willing to accept the guidance of the principal as that of an older friend, who is planning to give them such training as will develop them into helpful and attractive women.” He never held public office or played an official role in Virginia’s dominant Democratic Party, but a Democrat he was, and a dry, and he could deliver. In 1914, after Cannon had risen to the forefront of the temperance forces in the commonwealth, he engineered a stunningly successful statewide dry vote. Soon the Anti-Saloon League came calling.
The ASL’s literature declared the organization “Interdenominational and Omni-Partisan.” But though it was barely the former (almost all of its managers were stationed along the abbreviated gamut that ran from Baptist to Methodist), it was not even remotely the latter, despite the situational endorsements it had bestowed on dry Democrats, especially in the South. The league’s leadership was ineradicably rooted in the Republican soil of small-town Ohio. This made Cannon necessary; even if Hobson had stayed in Washington, his distance from his southern colleagues on racial matters, as well as the prissy rectitude that had alienated his classmates at Annapolis, would have guaranteed his failure as a lobbyist. Wheeler and his predecessor, Edwin Dinwiddie, could make deals with Democrats, but neither could be fully admitted into the party’s innermost councils. “So I was put in to deal with them,” Cannon said, “as a Democrat with Democrats.”
Specifically, southern Democrats. Cannon was more likely to part the Potomac than to be invited to sit at the same table as the northern Democrats from Tammany Hall and the other big-city machines. His manner—not only the outlandish clothing, but also a sense of humor that a Virginia acquaintance believed “could be lightly balanced on the back of a gnat”—didn’t help. Neither did his incivil attitude toward those who disagreed with him. One friend said, “Like most humorless men, he had to make life into a crusade to make sense of it.” Unlike Wheeler, who extended his personal cordiality even to the wets he publicly lacerated, Cannon, wrote Herbert Asbury in The Great Illusion, was “violent, abusive, . . . and given to wholesale denunciation” of his enemies. Among those was an institution fairly important to many of the machine Democrats. The Roman Catholic Church, Cannon said, was the “mother of ignorance, superstition, intolerance, and sin.”
But among his own, he could be eminently practical. When he started a dry newspaper in Richmond, Cannon promised not to “promote any form or species of gambling”; three weeks later, when he realized readers wanted their horse racing news, he relented. A prominent Virginia dry said that “many of Cannon’s most ardent supporters in the General Assembly were drunk when they were enacting dry legislation,” yet Cannon abided their intemperance. That was a healthy attitude for anyone assigned to keep tabs on dry southern politicians. Cannon didn’t need to worry about the “dry-drys”—anyone who “voted with the Anti-Saloon League and was yet dry personally,” as Mencken archly described them in The American Language. The “wet-drys,” though, were far more numerous and much less reliable. In fact, the dedicated abstinence of Senator Morris Sheppard, who had replaced Richmond Hobson as the primary congressional sponsor of the Prohibition amendment, was so singular that almost ten years after his resolution was adopted, he was saluted by Senator William Cabell Bruce, one of the leading congressional wets. Among all the dry members of the Senate, Bruce observed, Sheppard was one of only three he could name who actually didn’t drink.
The “wet-drys” were especially abundant in southern Democratic politics. Throughout his public life as governor and senator, the viciously racist Cole Blease of South Carolina never hid his fondness for moonshine. At the other end of the dignity spectrum, the learned and judicious Senator John Sharp Williams of Mississippi openly declared on the Senate floor that he was certain his “splendid” supply of liquor would last him the rest of his life. Wayne Wheeler explained away the attitudes of the “wet-drys” by asserting that “men vote as they pray rather than as they drink.” It would have been less disingenuous to have said, “Men vote as their instinct for political survival would have them vote.”
More difficult for Cannon and the other ASL operatives charged with minding the southern Democrats was a subset of the “wet-drys.” These politicians supported dry legislation in their own states and were prepared to vote dry in Congress, but only if they could get past a particular logical (and ideological) impediment. A Prohibition amendment would supersede state laws, and however dry their sympathies might have been, these southerners swore a higher loyalty to states’ rights. Most of them also feared that a Constitution that could be amended to allow the imposition of federal liquor laws could also be amended to grant women a federal right to vote. This was the argument they used if they wanted to sound respectable. If they wanted to sound honest, they acknowledged that accepting the validity of the pending Prohibition amendment would logically require them to accept the validity of an amendment already in the Constitution—the Fifteenth, affirming the voting rights of all men, black and white.
For many southern politicians the stand they took on constitutional Prohibition was tactical—in effect, they had to decide which position was likeliest to preserve the iron segregation that had set in with the enactment of state Jim Crow laws. In his maiden House speech in 1914, thirty-one-year-old Carl Vinson of Georgia grandly declared, “The principles of State rights are as sacred [as] the virtue of the vestal virgins.” Former senator Joseph Bailey of Texas put it more crudely but also more frankly: handing the federal government authority over liquor control, he said, would establish a precedent that would in time guarantee that “there will not be a square foot of territory in the United States where it will be unlawful for negroes and white people to intermarry.” Alabama’s flamboyant “Cotton Tom” Heflin, who once shot a black man on a Washington streetcar (and considered it one of his major professional accomplishments, along with the role he played in establishing Mother’s Day), used the same image that southern drys had been brandishing for decades to explain his reluctance to vote dry: it was the state and not the federal government, Heflin said, that “protected our women from the lust and carnality of the brutes in our midst.” Every county in Heflin’s district was dry. His state was largely dry. But Heflin and others like him were consistent: they valued genuine racism more than false temperance.
In the end, though, when the Eighteenth Amendment was brought to a vote in the House of Representatives in December 1917, James Cannon and his colleagues were able to pry from the wet column nine southern and border state House Democrats who had voted against the Hobson Amendment in 1914, and they lost none going the other direction. Although the final vote of 282–128 seemed a landslide, in requiring a two-thirds majority the Constitution demanded a landslide; without the nine who had migrated from wet to dry, the resolution, which had passed the Senate with ease, would have died in the House. The promising young Sam Rayburn of Texas was among those who made the switch, and even Carl Vinson, despite his poignant regard for southern virtue and vestal virgins, jumped to the dry side. There proved to be little political peril in testing the elasticity of the states’ rights argument: Vinson would remain in Congress for another forty-seven years, and Rayburn would serve another forty-four, for seventeen of them as Speaker of the House.
AS IT TRAVELED its path from the Hobson Amendment of 1914 to the Sheppard Amendment of 1917, Prohibition leapt ahead of universal suffrage in the reform queue. It also underwent substantial legislative tinkering but little discussion of its core substance. Some dry leaders continued to lean on the coy argument that the entire matter was merely procedural. The debate wasn’t about Prohibition, these Drys tried to say, it was only about “submission” of the amendment to the states—that is, attaining two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress so the states would have a chance to decide for themselves in the ratification process. This was like a prosecutor in a death penalty state charging someone with murder but disclaiming any responsibility for the consequences of a conviction. The Senate judiciary committee hadn’t even bothered with hearings; neither had its House counterpart. Floor debate in the Senate was largely given over to an argument over timing. The House crammed its discussion of the resolution into a single afternoon. Who could object? The real debate had been taking place for more than sixty years.
But there had indeed been negotiations that took the form of debate, largely within the councils of the Anti-Saloon League and its allies. Five issues had arisen after Hobson had crafted his resolution, and four were resolved through changes in the language of the proposed amendment. By decree of Wayne Wheeler, the fifth went unresolved and remained live ammunition for both wets and drys for as long as the Eighteenth Amendment lived.
The most significant of the changes was the deletion of four iterations of the words “for sale.” The Hobson Amendment had proscribed not just the sale of intoxicating beverages but also their “manufacture for sale, transportation for sale, importation for sale, and exportation for sale.” “We do not say that a man shall not drink,” Hobson had told the House in his dramatic floor speech of December 1914. “We ask for no sumptuary action. We do not say that a man shall not have or make liquor in his own home for his own use.” He said that in the phrasing of his resolution, “The liberties and sanctity of the home are protected.” The hobson Amendment was aimed solely at the saloon, the distillers, the brewers—in a word, the liquor traffic. To Hobson of the Merrimac, any amendment that appeared to infringe on personal liberty would grant “the choice of battleground to the enemy.”
In 1914 Wayne Wheeler agreed with him; in fact, Wheeler and Purley Baker were among the acknowledged coauthors of the Hobson Amendment. But so much had changed by the time the Sixty-fifth Congress convened in March 1917 that Wheeler was emboldened. Before the end of the month word had gone out by telegram from ASL headquarters: the moderating “for sale” was being junked. Any manufacture, transportation, importation, and exportation of intoxicating beverages, for any purpose and from any source, would be covered by the amendment.
The second linguistic adjustment, added as a separate section of the amendment, was the grant of “concurrent” powers of enforcement to the states. Hobson proposed this change himself at the ASL’s convention in 1915, and it mollified some of the states’ rights advocates. He argued that allowing the states to share enforcement responsibility would maintain “the balance of power between the Federal government and the states.”
The last two tweaks of the Sheppard Amendment were connected to each other. In addition to the congressional wets, a few moderate drys whose votes were still somewhat in question wanted to provide compensation to the distillers and brewers, much of whose property was about to become worthless. At the time the Sheppard Amendment was pending, thirteen million gallons of bourbon were aging in Kentucky warehouses alone. Nationwide, the liquor and beer industries represented nearly $1 billion in invested capital, by that measure making the combination the nation’s fifth largest industry. The New Republic said any dry who argued against compensation was “exactly as mindful of property interests . . . as the Russian Bolsheviki.”
But hard-line drys countered with an argument that was more theological than political or economic. According to officials of the Methodist Church, the alcohol interests’ “day of grace has been sinned away.” Less holy was the breathtakingly disingenuous no-compensation argument Representative Daniel E. Garrett of Texas had offered when Congress first debated the Hobson Amendment. After the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, he said, four billion dollars’ worth of “property” had been rendered valueless. “I doubt if any man deplores more than myself that the institution of slavery ever existed in this country,” Garrett claimed, and “as it has been with human slavery, so shall it be with alcoholic liquors.” Therefore, he argued, the liquor and beer interests “must pocket their loss just as our fathers had to pocket theirs when you took their niggers away from them. That is all there is to it.” The Congressional Record noted the response from at least part of the House: “[Applause and laughter.]”
One of the conciliatory drys who had supported the idea of compensation was Warren G. Harding, the junior senator from Ohio. Harding was about as moist as a dry could get, both in his attitude (he said he preferred to think of temperance not as a moral issuebut as a political one) and in his personal life (he favored Scotch and soda, and owned stock in a brewery). The most authoritative student of his prepresidential career, historian Randolph C. Downes, captured Harding’s posture on the issue perfectly: “Let there be no mistaking the fact that Senator Harding was both opposed to national prohibition and in favor of it, depending on whom he was dealing with.” In the summer of 1917 he was dealing with Wayne Wheeler.
To a large degree Harding owed his election in 1914 to the support of Wheeler and the ASL, who had backed the malleable and affable Republican over a Democrat who was a confirmed wet. As the Sheppard Amendment came up for Senate debate, Wheeler was in his usual seat in the gallery, which had become a sort of second headquarters for the ASL. Harding requested a meeting, and what eventually emerged from their conversation in the Capitol lobby was both a compromise and a ruse. Harding not only believed that the liquor interests deserved compensation, but also felt there should be a cap on how much time the states were allowed for ratification, a constraint that had never been applied to previous amendments. Harding suggested five years. Wheeler stretched it to seven, in exchange giving Harding and other moderates a new opening clause to the amendment, stipulating that its provisions would not take effect until one year after its ratification. This gave twelve months’ grace for the brewers, the distillers, the wholesalers, the saloon owners, the bartenders, the barrel makers, the bottlers, the teamsters, the ice dealers, and all the other people dependent on the American taste for alcoholic beverages—twelve months to find another use for their facilities and another line of work. This was not compensation; it was the facsimile of compensation. Four years later, Herbert Hoover would call Congress’s failure to seriously consider compensation “an insult to private property.”
All told, the linguistic tinkering that shaped the Eighteenth Amendment during its journey through the Sixty-fifth Congress had turned a morally inspired measure into a punitive one (the excision of the limiting “for sale”); provided some balm for the states’ rights caucus (“concurrent” enforcement); closed off the compensation debate (the one-year delay); and, in the case of the seven-year ratification limit, accomplished nothing meaningful relating to Prohibition, but did establish a new precedent. Three of the next four amendments to the Constitution were freighted with Warren Harding’s seven-year-limit innovation, and one—the Equal Rights Amendment of 1972—expired just three states short of ratification when the clock ticked its final mandated second in 1979.
More important than any of these emendations, though, was the word change that didn’t happen. Some very dry-drys wanted the Eighteenth Amendment to proscribe the manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, and exportation of “alcoholic beverages.” Wheeler, however, was determined to stick with “intoxicating liquors,” a vaguer term whose meaning Congress would have to define in later legislation, in the process turning that definition into the subject of political warfare, public debate, learned analysis, and high comedy for the next sixteen years.
AS 1917 DREW to a close, submission had been accomplished. Ratification seemed a more daunting prospect. Though by this time twenty-three states had dry laws of one form or another, very few were as “bone dry” as the Eighteenth Amendment. Looming ahead was the trench warfare of the state-by-state ratification campaign, in which the drys would need to win a minimum of thirty-six separate battles to reach the three-quarters requirement.
In the end, however, ratification sped along with astonishing velocity, fueled by an assault on the German-American Alliance conducted by the U.S. Senate in the form of an inquiry, but organized by Wayne B. Wheeler in the form of an inquisition. “We are not willing it be known at present that we started the investigation,” Wheeler told Purley Baker. Nonetheless, he pointed out, “You have doubtless seen the way the newspapers have taken up the German-American Alliance. They are giving it almost as much attention as the Acts of Congress itself. We could not have bought for $50,000 what we have gotten on this investigation.”
The income tax had made a Prohibition amendment fiscally feasible. The social revolution wrought by the suffragists had made it politically plausible. Now the drys had found the final tool they needed to wedge the amendment into the Constitution: a war.
* The populist-demagogue-turned-racist-demagogue Tom Watson of Georgia, who was a patron of the KKK, expressed the intensity and paranoia of anti-Catholic feeling in a scary document called “What Goes on in Nunneries.” In convents, he said, “bachelor priests keep unmarried women under lock and key” and kill their children. He also said that in the confessional, priests gave married women information on “sexual practices and techniques with [their] husband[s], extra-marital activities, masturbation, homosexuality, and unnatural fornication.”