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American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition

Kenneth Rose

Publication Year: 1995

In 1933 Americans did something they had never done before: they voted to repeal an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Eighteenth Amendment, which for 13 years had prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, was nullified by the passage of another amendment, the Twenty-First. Many factors helped create this remarkable turn of events. One factor that was essential, Kenneth D. Rose here argues, was the presence of a large number of well-organized women promoting repeal.

Even more remarkable than the appearance of these women on the political scene was the approach they took to the politics of repeal. Intriguingly, the arguments employed by repeal women and by prohibition women were often mirror images of each other, even though the women on the two sides of the issue pursued diametrically opposed political agendas. Rose contends that a distinguishing feature of the women's repeal movement was an argument for home protection, a social feminist ideology that women repealists shared with the prohibitionist women of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The book surveys the women's movement to repeal national prohibition and places it within the contexts of women's temperance activity, women's political activity during the 1920s, and the campaign for repeal.

While recent years have seen much-needed attention devoted to the recovery of women's history, conservative women have too often been overlooked, deliberately ignored, or written off as unworthy of scrutiny. With American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition, Kenneth Rose fleshes out a crucial chapter in the history of American women and culture.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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p. xiii


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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xviii

No scholarly effort could succeed without considerable institutional support. I would like to thank the Hagley Museum and Library for a Grant-in-Aid Fellowship and for putting the considerable resources of their library at my...


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p. xix

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pp. 1-8

On 5 December 1933 an event occurred that was unprecedented in American history: an amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed. The Eighteenth (prohibition) Amendment was nullified by the enactment of another...

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1. American Women and the Prohibition Movement

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pp. 9-33

The beginnings of a revolution in American feminist politics started off innocuously enough at a congressional hearing in 1928. At that hearing Ella Boole, president of the WCTU and avid supporter of prohibition, proclaimed...

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2. Women's Politics, Home Protection, and the Morality of Prohibition in the 1920s

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pp. 34-62

At the same time that temperance women were struggling to enact the prohibition amendment, a parallel effort was taking place to gain passage of the woman suffrage amendment. The female constituencies of these two movements...

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3. Women and the Repeal Issue: Three Visions

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pp. 63-89

During the decades of the 1920s and 1930s there was no political issue, with the exception of the Equal Rights Amendment imbroglio, that produced more controversy among women, and revealed more about how women viewed themselves...

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4. The Campaign

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pp. 90-113

Home protectionist ideas continued to dominate the thinking of American women involved in the repeal debate, but these women were now seeing home's most notorious adversary, King Alcohol, in two different guises...

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5. Nonpartisanship, National Politics, and the Momentum for Repeal [Contains Image Plates]

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pp. 114-129

The WONPR demonstrated that a nonpartisan organization based on gender and the engagement of a moral issue was still viable well into the 1930s. The mixture of both Republicans and Democrats that made up the membership...

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6. Aftermath and Conclusion

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pp. 130-147

After the enactment of the Twenty-First Amendment, both prohibition and repeal women turned to other concerns. The activities in which these women became involved are enlightening, reflecting back on the motivations...


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pp. 149-203


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pp. 205-215

E-ISBN-13: 9780814776698
E-ISBN-10: 0814776698
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814774649
Print-ISBN-10: 0814774644

Page Count: 237
Publication Year: 1995

OCLC Number: 44962676
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Prohibition -- United States -- History.
  • Women -- Political activity -- United States -- History.
  • Women social reformers -- United States -- History.
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