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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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The Dam Breaks (1932–33)

The Dam Breaks (1932–33)

(p.213) Chapter Ten The Dam Breaks (1932–33)
Prohibition, the Constitution, and States' Rights

Sean Beienburg

University of Chicago Press

While disagreeing on whether constitutional obligations required them to administer prohibition before repeal, nearly all northeastern states, and a handful of others, forcefully protested against the Eighteenth Amendment as a violation of states’ rights, and polling data indicated a nationwide collapse in support for prohibition. After posing as a “moist” candidate to retain southern support against Albert Ritchie and Al Smith, Franklin Roosevelt committed the Democratic Party firmly for repeal. The Republicans under Herbert Hoover accepted the need for a referendum reassessing popular support and considering repeal and the restoration of states’ rights. Roosevelt’s overwhelming victory, coupled with clear support in both congressional and referendum elections, signaled the inevitability of prohibition's repeal. But as ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment would take some time, Roosevelt and his allies modified the Volstead Act with the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing consumption of low alcohol-by-volume drinks in the interim.

Keywords:   Herbert Hoover, Albert Ritchie, Al Smith, Franklin Roosevelt, Twenty First Amendment, Volstead Act, Cullen Harrison Act

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