Tag Archives: Prohibition

Prelude to Prohibition: The State Referendum Vote September 22, 1914: The Recorder, Post & Enterprise

BallotIt was Wet vs. Dry and City vs. Country and Dry Country won.  It wasn’t even close.  The advocates for Prohibition themselves might have been surprised by the disparity of the result–a win for Virginia prohibition by over thirty thousand votes–94,251 to 63,086.  City drinkers likely peered into their empty glasses the evening of September 22, 1914, surer in the knowledge that legislation to ban liquor in the state would soon follow.  And it did.

For more detail and the broader context of this debate–more votes were cast in the prohibition referendum vote than in the presidential election that November!–I refer you to two articles by our LVA sister blog “Out Of The Box.”

The Mapp Act passed and went into effect November 1, 1916.  Virginia, then, had a head start of four years to the arrival of national prohibition.

The specific purpose of this blog entry is the encouragement of your physical presence at the Library of Virginia’s exhibit “Teetotalers & Moonshiners:  Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled,” now open to the public.  A hundred years after prohibition, we’re confidant you’ll depart with a different awareness of an unusual episode in the state’s history.MapEach state in the Union took its own particular route to prohibition until the constitutional amendment of 1920. A key date in Virginia’s path was the approval of local option in 1886, allowing for a community or county’s voters to determine their stance on the sale and distribution of alcohol.  The map above illustrates the camps and lines of the liquor divide.  Note, for example, in a concentration of ink, Fort Norfolk, a seaside stronghold hostile to the dry life.

There was no shortage of political contentiousness in the run-up to the referendum. The very organized, determined drys, abetted by grassroots religious fervor, drove the … read more »

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Anti-Liquor, College, and Charlottesville papers donated to LVA

Recently, the Library of Virginia received generous gifts of historical Virginia newspapers from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and Christopher Newport University.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives donated to the Virginia Newspaper Project some rare finds never held by the Library of Virginia until now. One of the titles, of special historical import, is called Anti-Liquor. As the name implies, Anti-Liquor was just that: a monthly newspaper committed to the prohibition of alcohol. Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the paper was “issued for the sole purpose of educating the people upon the evils of the drink habit, and especially to turn light upon the question of Legal Prohibition.”

According to Lester Cappon’s essential work, Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, a Lynchburg temperance monthly, the Truth, was absorbed by Anti-Liquor in 1891. Moffet continued editing the paper after the merger until he was assassinated in Danville on November 11, 1892.  The history of the Reverend Moffet’s church explained, “John R. Moffett died a martyr’s death at the hand of an assassin’s bullet for the cause of temperance.” Anti-Liquor ceased publication shortly after his death.

The Tennessee State Library and Archives also gave the Library a May, 15, 1869 issue of The Collegian published by Washington College, what is today Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Published semi-monthly by literary societies of the college, The Collegian focused on various aspects of academia and student news. The entire front page of this particular issue is taken up by one article titled, “Claims of the German Language” proposing the utility of learning German, as opposed to French. “Thus the study of German is not only interesting in itself and affords vigorous intellectual exercise,” the article concluded, “but … read more »

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