Case Studies

Herbert Hoover

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Occupation: Former President

Prohibition: For


“My innumerable contacts in life have confirmed that alcohol is one of the curses of the human race. The immediate problem is whether the widespread devotion to it as an escape or a road to happiness could be controlled by a Federal law.

“Since the adoption of the prohibition amendment too many people have come to rely wholly upon the strong arm of the law to enforce abstinence, forgetting that the cause of temperance has its strong foundations in the conviction of the individual of the personal value to himself of temperance in all things.

“A surprising number of our people, otherwise of responsibility in the community, have drifted into the extraordinary notion that laws are made for those who choose to obey them. And in addition, out law-enforcement machinery is suffering from many infirmities arising out of its technicalities, its circumlocutions, its involved procedures, and too often, I regret, from inefficient and delinquent officials.

“I do not favor the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment. I stand for the efficient enforcement of the laws enacted thereunder [sic]. …. Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose. It must be worked out constructively. Common sense compels us to realize that grave abuses have occurred— abuses which must be remedied. An organized searching investigation of fact and causes can alone determine the wise method of correcting them. Crime and disobedience of law cannot be

permitted to break down the Constitution and laws of the United States.

“There would be little traffic in illegal liquor if only criminals patronized it. We must awake to the fact that this patronage from large numbers of law-abiding citizens is supplying the rewards and stimulating crime.

“The duty of citizens to support the laws of the land is so-equal with the duty of their government to enforce the laws which exist. No greater national service can be given by men and omen of good will—who, I know, are not unmindful of the responsibilities of citizenship—than that they should be their example, assist in stamping out crime and outlawry by refusing participation in and condemning all transactions of illegal liquor.




“The Hoover Administration and the Prohibition Enforcement Problem.” Congressional Digest. March1930, 9:3, 70-77. Cornell College, Academic Sear Premier.

Hoover, Herbert. The Memoirs of Herbert Hoover: The Cabinet and the Presidency 1920-1933. The Macmillan Company: New York (1952). HHPLM online archives.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum and Library. Chicago Daily News Clippings Collection, Prohibition, 1929-1932.


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