Patriotism's Role in the Ratification

The frenzy of feeling against the Germans during World War I and support for American boys in uniform gave the League a tool to use against the saloons. Most of the brewers were of German extraction.

Soldiers die for the flag, die from the drink.


A disloyal combination.

Wayne Wheeler, putting his spin on the war effort, stated that "Kaiserism abroad and booze at home must go." The League, latching its agenda onto Woodrow Wilson's war food control bill, pointed out that resources used for alcohol production were being diverted from the war effort. Using the patriotism generated by World War I as a means to achieve its goal of national prohibition, it re-introduced the 18th amendment to the constitution.

Prohibition Amendment Passes

At this point, the wets devised a strategy that they were mistakenly convinced would stop this amendment. Misjudging the dry sentiment in the country and the grasp the lobbying arm of the League had on state legislatures, the wets proposed a limit on the amount of time the amendment had to be ratified by the states. Seven years was agreed to by the drys and became part of the 18th amendment. The amendment then passed both houses of Congress by the required 2/3 vote. No one realized the rapidity by which the amendment would be ratified by the states.

States need to ratify amendment.

A copy of The American Issue, January 25, 1919.

Thirteen months after the 18th amendment was passed by Congress, Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify it January 16, 1919. The amendment became law January 17, 1920.

With great jubilation the dry forces ushered in this new era in American history called Prohibition. Celebrations were held all over the country commemorating the death of John Barleycorn.

An advertisement for a celebration of John Barleycorn's death.

New Law Is Enforced

The enforcement arm of the 18th amendment was the Volstead Act, which placed the authority to enforce the amendment in the lap of the Treasury Department and defined what legally constituted an alcoholic beverage. The strictness of this definition finally dispelled any notions that the brewers had of being able to avoid catastrophe. Their products were banned also.

Search and seizure law under the new Volstead Act.
Search and seizure under the National Prohibition Law. A hard copy of this brochure can be found at the Anti-Saloon League Museum: ID Number: A05203.

Now that its dream had come true, the League turned its attention to law enforcement issues and >extolling the new climate produced by Prohibition. It promoted law observance days and formed The American Bond, a branch of the Lincoln-Lee Legion which promoted obedience to the law through another pledge program and appeals to patriotism.

The passing of the saloons in New York City.
The passing of the saloons in New York City.

Law observance program for Sunday schools.
Law observance program for Sunday schools.

The American Bond Loyalty poster
A hard copy of this The American Bond Loyalty poster can be found at the Anti-Saloon League Museum: ID Number: Flier.

The American Bond - A Pledge.
The American Bond - A Pledge. View in full screen.

A drama in the form of a debate "Can the Law Be Enforced?" sponsored by the League and manned with paid personnel traveled around the country presenting the League's viewpoint on this question.

Mon - Thurs

9 a.m. - 9 p.m.


9 a.m. - 6 p.m.


9 a.m. - 6 p.m.


1 - 6 p. m.