View our Main Site »

Monday, July 23, 2012

We Propose a Toast - Pauline Sabin

This is the first in a series of short pieces acknowledging the efforts of little-known historical figures who had positive impacts on the brewing, wine-making and distilling industries.

By Steve Siciliano

With breweries, cideries, meaderies and micro-distilleries popping up on the national landscape like toadstools after a rain in summer, it seems incomprehensible that it was once a crime to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages in this country. National Prohibition, mandated by the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920, destroyed businesses, eliminated thousands of jobs and generated millions of tax-free dollars for underworld figures such as Al Capone and “Bugs” Moran. The ratification of the twenty-first Amendment in 1933 repealed Prohibition and it is a little known fact that the efforts of a woman named Pauline Sabin helped put an end to this failed “noble experiment.”

Pauline Sabin was a wealthy New York Republican who played an active role in party politics. She co-founded and was a president of the Women’s National Republican Club, was the first woman to serve on the National Republican Committee and in 1928 was a delegate to the National Republican Convention. Initially in favor of Prohibition because of the promise of lower crime, better public health and increased morality, she became disillusioned after realizing that Prohibition was causing hypocrisy, a higher crime rate, increased violence and pervasive disrespect for laws in general. In 1929 she resigned from the Republican National Committee and founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). In less than two years the membership of the WONPR grew to almost 1.5 million.

The WONPR effectively countered the efforts of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League, organizations that had been instrumental in getting the Eighteenth Amendment ratified and were keeping ongoing pressure on politicians to keep Prohibition in place. In recognition for her efforts to get Prohibition repealed Pauline Sabin was featured on the cover of Time magazine on July 18, 1932.

We propose a toast to the memory of this remarkable woman.

No comments:

Post a Comment