America in its early years was awash in alcohol. Indeed, when one reads some of the statistics and anecdotes, it is difficult not to believe that the Pilgrims had a more or less continuous buzz on, Cotton Mather was half in the bag while writing his sermons, and our nation’s founding documents were written while under the influence. This staggering level of consumption, and its social cost, eventually provoked an extreme reaction in the form of the Temperance movement’s outright rejection of alcohol.
First gaining steam in tandem with the religious revival of the 1820s and 1830s, Temperance waxed and waned for decades, with occasional triumphs such as Massachusetts’ 1838 ban on sales of small amounts of alcohol (repealed in 1840) and Maine’s Prohibition law of 1846 (repealed in 1858). The push for national Prohibition picked up steam with the 1893 founding of the Anti-Saloon League, which developed into the mightiest lobbying organization yet seen in America.
Given the stakes, both proponents and opponents of Prohibition deployed all possible weapons to make their case, including the techniques of persuasive cartography. Offered here is one such example, a small bifolium calling on Prohibition supporters to “make the map all white” by supporting “dry” candidates in the 1916 election. The exhortation is a reference to the two maps on the first page: The upper is a “wet and dry map of the United States” as of Jan. 1, 1893, showing dry states and counties in white, those with a “local option” to ban alcohol in gray, and fully “wet” areas in black. The map shows the country as a sea of black and gray, with small pockets of Prohibition in northern New England and the Plains States. The use of black to indicate wet areas drew of course on the traditional association of that color with ignorance (“darkness”) and evil, but surely also had racial connotations that were picked up, and appreciated, by many viewers.
The lower map shows the tremendous progress made as of April 1, 1916, with the vast majority of the country now dry, at least by law. The implication, of course, is that with just a little more effort National Prohibition was in reach. Indeed, the Temperance movement culminated in the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, and national Prohibition went into effect in early 1920. However, Prohibition’s wide unpopularity and fundamental unenforceability, and the election of the unapologetically “wet” Franklin Roosevelt to the Presidency led to its repeal in 1933.
The piece is credited to the Lincoln-Lee Legion and bears the imprint of The American Issue Publishing Company. Based in Westerville, Ohio, both entities were appendages of the Anti-Saloon League.
“The Lincoln-Lee legion was established by Anti-Saloon League founder Howard Hyde Russell in 1903 to promote the signing of abstinence pledges by children. The organization was originally called the Lincoln League, named after Abraham Lincoln. However, in 1912 it was renamed the Lincoln-Lee Legion, adding a reference to Robert E. Lee to make it more appealing to southern children and their parents.” (Wikipedia)
The American Issue Publishing Company was founded in 1909 as the publishing arm of the Anti-Saloon League. It issued staggering quantities of material advocating temperance and legal prohibition; per Wikipedia, already by 1912 its output had reached a quarter-billion pages per month.
Not in OCLC.