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Prohibition, the Constitution, and States' Rights$
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Sean Beienburg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226631943

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226632278.001.0001

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Ratifying and Implementing the Sheppard Amendment (1918–21)

Ratifying and Implementing the Sheppard Amendment (1918–21)

(p.51) Chapter Four Ratifying and Implementing the Sheppard Amendment (1918–21)
Prohibition, the Constitution, and States' Rights

Sean Beienburg

University of Chicago Press

Ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment proved surprisingly easy in most of the country, which forced state legislators, governors, and others to try to understand the constitutional obligations of states under the cryptic “concurrent enforcement” clause of the new amendment. With few exceptions, states in the South, West, and Midwest quickly instituted regimes of concurrent enforcement by which states additionally helped to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment, with William Jennings Bryan serving as a roving national ambassador for prohibition. The South’s reputation for states’ rights proved especially hollow, with Governor Albert Ritchie’s Maryland the only southern state to resist instituting state enforcement, much to the consternation of Alabama’s Oscar Underwood, the rare southern states’ rights anti-prohibitionist and who lamented his region’s hypocrisy and enthusiasm for national power. California prohibitionists, reeling from repeated referenda against statewide prohibition, began reformulating the issue to be not pro-or-anti prohibition but fidelity to the Constitution, modeling the prohibition legalism and constitutional obligation that later proved so effective in maintaining prohibition.

Keywords:   concurrent enforcement, prohibition, ratification, Eighteenth Amendment, the South, Oscar Underwood, William Jennings Bryan, Albert Ritchie, California, Maryland

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