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Prohibition and the Masses



Prohibition was a very contentious issue at the time of its existence. Most people in the United States had a strong opinion about Prohibition and many shared these views with then-President Hoover. The letters posted below are a tiny sample of the thousands of letters Hoover received during his Presidency. It seems like people that supported Prohibition wrote more often than those that did not. However, those against Prohibition seem to use stronger language and tone in their letters. Many people sent in their ideas about Prohibition and ways the Federal government could better uphold or enforce the laws. Others sent suggestions for how to modify Prohibition so that it could work better. And others still wrote and requested Prohibition end completely.


Dry Letter from J. M. Bledsoe Wet Letter from Mr. F. C. Finkle
Dry letter from Pastor O. L. Williams Wet Letter from Mark Elliot
Dry Letter from Herbert Driscoll Wet Letter from Robert G. MacKendrick
Dry Letter from Jenny Werkman Wet Letter from Harry S. Klinefelter
Dry Letter from Dr. George B. Wood Moist Letter from Frank E. Uhl


Think about how these letters address then-President Hoover. Many are very cordial, as if the sender personally knew the President. The tone of the letters are warm, friendly, and sincere. It is clear that each author believed their letter would be personally read by President Hoover. Compare these letters with the techniques and tones that letters have today. Do you think people address our current President as "His Honorable Sir"? Do you think the letters sent today are as friendly and polite? Also, think about the form these communications were sent as-- letters and telegrams. How has styles of communication changed from then to today? Do you send letters, e-mail, call, or something else?