Abstract: The Brewers' Battle Against Prohibition, 1909-1919

Margot Opdycke Lamme


The idea for the United States Brewers' Association (USBA) was conceived in November 1862 to shape federal tax policy. The larger and perhaps more significant threat to the brewing industry, though, became Prohibition: the abolition of the production and sale of alcohol. This study examines how, through the lens of its own communication efforts, the USBA sought to influence public opinion, and, in turn, public policy, in the face of the Prohibition movement. In particular, it examines the USBA's description of local option campaigns and the USBA's Barley Campaign, which served to develop relationships with the very constituencies that tended to vote dry. It was found that by 1916, though, such efforts proved to be too little, too late. While the USBA consistently defended its patriotism, its legitimacy as an industry, and its benefits to the country, and while it combated the drys' information, it also held a dismissive attitude toward the drys' fervor, adhered to reasonably and logically presented arguments in the face of such frenzy, and took a reactive stance to rising anti-German sentiment and wartime legislation—all of which combined to impede its efforts in diverting the drive toward national prohibition.