THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS
April 5 to 24, 1926
TESTIMONY OF MR. WILLIAM ROBERTS, REPRESENTING THE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
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FRIDAY, APRIL 9,1926
UNITED STATES SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY,
The subcommittee met at 10 o'clock a. m, in room 224, Senate Office Building, pursuant to adjournment on yesterday, Senator Thomas J. Walsh presiding.
Present: Senators Walsh (acting chairman of subcommittee), Harreld, and Reed of Missouri.
Present also: Senator Edwards of New Jersey and Representative Hill of Maryland.
Senator WALSH (presiding). The committee will come to order.
Mr. CODMAN. Mr. Chairman, is the chairman able to give me any idea as to whether we shall have the afternoon to-day or not?
Senator WALSH. No; we shall have to adjourn at 12 o'clock. I may hold out some hope that we shall sit to-morrow afternoon, however.
Mr. CODMAN. The main thing is to know. Then I can make my arrangements.
Senator WALSH. We will not sit this afternoon.
Senator HARRELD. How would you like the suggestion this is my own suggestion; I have not said anything to the committee about it of adjourning this morning until the Brookhart debate is over? Then we can give you regular hours.
Senator WALSH. That may be concluded to-day.
Mr. CODMAN. I was just thinking for the moment, Senator Harreld, of the people who are here in Washington at the present time and what arrangements should be made for witnesses coming here, before I answer your question. You think, Senator Walsh, that the debate in the Senate will probably be concluded this week?
Senator WALSH. I think so; yes, sir.
Mr. CODMAN. So that next week we may go ahead more rapidly?
Senator WALSH. I feel quite sure it will be finished to-morrow anyway, and I rather think to-day.
Mr. CODMAN. Then I suppose we shall take only the morning hours to-day, and the chairman will let me know as soon as he can about to-morrow, so that I can make my arrangements?
Senator WALSH. We shall probably be able to advise you this afternoon.
Mr. CODMAN. Even before then, if you can tell us.
Senator HARRELD. There is no reason why we should not give them the two hours to-morrow morning.
Senator WALSH. Oh, no.
Mr. CODMAN. You feel sure of that?
Senator WALSH. Yes.
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Mr, CODMAN. It is my intention to put on this morning the representatives of the Federation of Labor. The intention is to make the statements short, or only moderately long, and I have rather more witnesses than I can really get into the time allotted for this morning. In view of that fact I ask the committee to consider that when they question the members of the delegation who will speak, recognizing the fact that, though I welcome all questions which are thoroughly germane to the subject, I hope the committee will not deviate as they have done so interestingly in the past.
I will call first Mr. William Roberts, representing President Green, of the American Federation of Labor.
Mr. Roberts, the committee is swearing all witnesses.
TESTIMONY OF MR. WILLIAM ROBERTS, REPRESENTING THE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, WASHINGTON, D. C.
(The witness was duly sworn by the acting chairman, Senator Walsh.)
Mr. ROBERTS. Mr. Chairman, I have prepared a statement as to the attitude of the American Federation of Labor and why they take that attitude.
The American Federation of Labor is composed of 110 national and international unions, 48 State federations of labor, nearly 1,000 city central bodies, and 35,000 local unions. It represents directly 4,000,000 wage earners, or with their families 25,000,000 people.
Deligates to its conventions are mostly officers of national and international unions. These officers travel about the country continually. They go into nearly every nook and corner yearly. They represent different trades and occupations and are naturally acquainted with the various local environments of their repective trades and callings.
When they meet in the American Federation of Labor conventions each year they are well informed on all subject that come before the body, as they know the attitude of the rank and file. Therefore, when the American Federation of Labor conventions declared by practically unanimous vote that the Volstead Act should be modified it was in response to the voice of the rank and file.
At every convention the delegates have freely stated that the unrest among the wage earners because of the Volstead Act is ever increasing. Recently conclusive evidence of this has been shown in the remarkable vote cast and published in the newspapers in favor of light wine and beer.
Who, then, would have more knowledge of the persistently growing resentment of the great mass of people to the Volstead Act than these many men whose duty it is to investigate conditions among wage earners?
Practically all channels of publicity that are worth while are closed to those favoring modification of the Volstead Act. It is only when some opportunity like that of the straw vote arises that the general public is made aware of the intensity of the feeling against the act.
During 1923 and 1924 I traveled about 30,000 miles throughout the United States. I accompanied President Gompers on his official
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business visits to various cities and towns. This gave me an opportunity of learning more about the Volstead Act than I ever even imagined. He met people in all walks of life. He attended many conferences and addressed many gatherings. No matter where we would be and what subject was under discussion it would always end in criticism of the Volstead Act.
Everywhere we, went there was plenty of distilled liquor, but seldom real beer. We found that the homes of the people had been turned into breweries and distilleries which turned out dangerous decoctions that if drunk to any extent would ruin the health of those who drank them. When asked why they drank such stuff they said there was nothing else to be obtained, and they invariably asked when were Members of Congress going to realize that the manufacture and sale of beer would make for true temperance. Women as well as men were, interested in such questioning.
As time passed, the resentment appeared to grow in intensity as we traveled about the country from coast to coast and from Canada to the Mexican border. The greatest complaint appeared to be that the people were forced to drink all kinds of concoctions represented to he whisky. But the resentment did not find much publicity, as newspapers generally supported the Volstead Act, because the dry element spread its propaganda unceasingly in every part of the land. The opponents of the act, so far as it prohibited the manufacture of beer and light wine, were only permitted to voice their opposition among their friends and acquaintances.
I generally used much of the time in the smoking compartments of the cars while traveling and do not remember a time when the question of prohibition was not discussed. The most astonishing part of these discussions was that it was rare anyone defended the Volstead Act, and those who did, after the others bad ended their arguments, generally conceded that the law should be modified if not repealed. Most of the men met in such places were wide travelers, and they invariably told of their experiences in various parts of the country. They one and all pointed to the increasing unrest among the people because of the law, but of which there was a minimum of publicity.
An evidence of this was demonstrated at the time the New York Legislature repealed the enforcement act. It was known as the Mullen Gage bill. A most aggressive propaganda campaign was engaged in by the dry people urge Governor Smith to veto the bill. Demands were made by telegraph, letters, and in other ways until the governor determined to test the sentiment himself. Those who believed the bill should be signed took it for granted that the governor would attach his signature without a word from them. Therefore, at a public dinner at the Shelburne Hotel, Brighton Beach, one night in May, 1923, he sprang a surprise on the 1,000 people present. When he appeared in the dining room he was enthusiastically cheered and alluded to as the next President of the United States. Every speaker referred to him in glowing words and each of them hinted that the governor would sign the bill to repeal the State enforcement law. They had taken it for granted.
The governor, however, threw a damper on the crowd when he said he had not decided what he would do with the bill; that he
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was studying it with the purpose of determining what be should do. He urged the crowd to believe that when he did act they should consider that he had done what his conscience told him was best. This was taken to mean he might veto the bill. It was like a wet blanket on the spirits of the diners and from that time until the dinner was over Governor Smith received only the slightest of applause. The next day after the people had read the newspapers there was the greatest alarm. The governor was denounced by his best friends and supporters.
Before the dinner I had talked with the secretary of the governor and asked him whether there were many communications for and against being received by the governor urging action on the Mullen-Gage repealer. He said that the governor was swamped with appeals from those who wanted him to veto the bill, but very few had been received from the other side. But it was only a few days before the governor's office was swamped with letters and telegrams urging him to sign the bill. I was informed there were more appeals for him to sign the bill than to veto it.
Governor Smith considered this the voice of the people and he signed the bill to repeal the enforcement act. The best evidence that it was the voice of the people is that in the following election he was elected governor by a large majority, running nearly 700,000 ahead of the Democratic candidate for President, who lost the State.
That is an evidence of the feeling among the people of the United States, and the recent straw vote taken by the newspapers simply emphasizes what occurred in New York State. Give the people a chance to vote on the issue and there is no doubt of the result.
The wage earner as well as the people generally can not understand how a man can be "personally wet" and "politically dry." The straw vote will awaken them to the fact that they have been misinformed as to the real situation and that it is not necessary for them to straddle the fence. It may give them courage to vote their real convictions.
No doubt this issue will be raised in many congressional districts, the outcome of which will give a better idea of the sentiment in favor of a modification of the Volstead Act, as the wage earners do not believe it is a true interpretation of the eighteenth amendment.
There may be some men who attempt to speak for labor being opposed to modification of the Volstead Act. I wish, however, to state that the American Federation of Labor is the only authorized spokesman of the bona fide American labor movement.
All letters pertaining to the Volstead Act, or prohibition, received by the American Federation of Labor are referred to the legislative committee. In seven years, since July 1, 1919, not half a dozen individual letters of protest have been received by the American Federation of Labor from its 4,000,000 members for the action taken at the Atlantic City convention in 1919, and several conventions since. And those who did protest simply wanted the American Federation of Labor to be neutral.
Any law that takes away a right is highly objectionable to the American people and fanatical statements so frequently heard and printed increases the resentment against the Volstead Act and even the eighteenth amendment itself.
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In 1919, the American Federation of Labor adopted a resolution calling upon Congress to exempt mild beers of 2.75 per cent alcohol by weight from the provisions of the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution and also from the provision of the war prohibition measure.
After the convention of the American Federation of Labor in 1919 President Gompers wrote a letter to the President of the United States calling attention to the great unrest in every part of the country, "unrest that has turned honest, loyal citizens into bolsheviks, I.W.W's, and rebels against our Government."
In 1921 the Federation of Labor declared in favor of modification of the Volstead Act "to permit the manufacture and sale of a national beverage of wholesome beer."
In 1923 the executive council of the American Federation of Labor issued an address to the American people after an exhaustive investigation of the effects of the Volstead Act. It was shown by this investigation that there had been
A general disregard of the law among all classes of people, including those who made the law.
Creation of thousands of moonshiners among both country and city dwellers.
The creation of an army of bootleggers.
An amazing increase in the traffic in poisons and deadly concoctions and drugs.
An increased rate of insanity, blindness, and crime among the users of these concoctions and drugs.
Increase in taxes to city, State, and National Government amounting to approximately $1,000,000,000 per year.
The executive council said:
We seek no violation of the eighteenth amendment, but, on the contrary, we declare for a reasonable interpretation of that amendment in order that the law may be enforceable and enforced, and in order that the people of our country may not suffer from an unjust and fanatical interpretation of the Constitution.
The convention of the American Federation of Labor held in Portland, Oreg., October, 1923, approved of these declarations of the executive council and adopted the following:
The American Federation of Labor has gone clearly on record as being in favor of such modification of the existing law to permit the manufacture and vending of wholesome beer and light wine. * * * It is our belief that the efforts at enforcement of the Volstead Act have produced results that in themselves are so far from being what was promised or reasonably expected might follow the adoption of the eighteenth amendment that we felt warranted in saying that the reasonable modification now asked for and a rational enforcement of the eighteenth amendment will bring the relief greatly sought by the people.
It is the opinion of the American Federation of Labor that the most serious danger confronting the Republic is the fact that we are drifting nearer and nearer to being a whisky-drinking Nation. Furthermore, some of the alleged whisky, consumed has contributed startlingly to mortality, insanity, and crime.
You must not be deceived by those who claim that the present uprising of those opposed to the Volstead Act is simply a flash in the pan. It is a stable, solid movement, and I sincerely believe that those who oppose light wines and beers realize that a referendum would declare in favor of a modification of the Volstead Act. If this was or not true, why do they fight a referendum so strenuously?
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The defenders of the Volstead Act apparently prefer to see the people of our country seriously affected by vicious concoctions of liquor rather than to make it a temperance country by legalizing the manufacture of mild beers.
President Green, of the American Federation of Labor, on December 22 1925 wrote a letter to President Coolidge in which he urged that the President give most thoughtful and earnest consideration to the appeal of the American Federation of Labor for modification of the Volstead law "so as to permit the manufacture and sale of a national beverage of wholesome beer." The President was urged to recommend to Congress that the Volstead Act be amended to provide for the manufacture, sale, and distribution of beer containing 2.75 per cent alcohol by weight.
I would like to submit, if there is no objection, the letter of President Green to President Coolidge.
Senator Walsh (presiding). It may be placed in the record.
(The letter referred to is here printed in full, as follows:)
December 22, 1925.
Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C.
MR. PRESIDENT: The officers and members of the American Federation of Labor are greatly interested in the subject of prohibition enforcement and the operation of the Volstead Act. Conventions of the American Federation of Labor have given special consideration to this subject and have adopted official declaration regarding it. At the convention of the American Federation of Labor held At Denver, Colo., the following declaration was adopted:
"That the American Federation of Labor, in the forty-first annual convention assembled, in Denver, Colo., declare itself in favor of modification of the Volstead law so as to permit the manufacture and sale of a national beverage of wholesome beer.
"That the officers and executive council of the American Federation of Labor and are hereby, directed to do everything within their power to have the contents of this resolution carried into effect."
The executive council of the American Federation of Labor believes this is an opportune time to call your attention to this declaration of the American Federation of Labor and to suggest that you recommend to Congress that the Volstead Act be amended so as to provide for the manufacture, sale, and distribution of beer containing 2.75 alcohol by weight. In making this recommendation the executive council of the American Federation of Labor is not undertaking to raise an issue against prohibition, but it believes that if an amendment to the Volstead law, providing for the manufacture of 2.75 beer, is adopted the cause of real prohibition would be advanced.
The present situation resulting from the adoption of the Volstead Act is, to say the least, very unsatisfactory. The law is being violated and much social disorder prevails because of the attempt of the officers of the law to enforce the prohibition statutes. We are approximating a condition In our national life which is intolerable. The flagrant violations of the Volstead Act are having a most serious and damaging effect upon our social, economic, and political life. The prevalent disregard of prohibition laws is tending to breed contempt for all law. If the present situation continues, respect for law will be seriously menaced if not entirely destroyed.
We most sincerely request that you give the recommendations herein made by the executive council of the American Federation of Labor your most thoughtful and earnest consideration. We assure you that these recommendations are offered in the firm belief and conviction that, if accepted, present conditions will be greatly improved, and the cause of morality, temperance, and good citizenship will be advanced and promoted.
(In behalf of the Executive Council, American Federation of Labor).
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Mr. ROBERTS. Permit me, therefore, in the name of the American Federation of Labor, to urge you to recommend legislation that will provide for the manufacture and sale of light wines and beer.
I desire also to present a letter which President Gompers wrote in 1917 to President Wilson, protesting against the prohibition amendment itself, and a letter dated October 20, 1919, urging him to veto what is now the Volstead Act. May I ask that those be inserted in the record as well?
Senator WALSH (presiding). Yes; they may be incorporated in the record.
The letters referred to are here printed in full as follows:)
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR,
Washington, D. C., December 14, 1917.
SIR: On one occasion I took the liberty of addressing you upon a subject which was then imminent but which is now assuming proportions so threatening and so dangerous that I feel it an incumbent duty upon me, as a man and a citizen, to bring to your attention and thought upon the pending Joint resolution now before the House of Representatives, being a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States commonly known as the nation-wide prohibition amendment.
Did I for a moment feel that the subject matter were of but passing or momentary interest, or that it did not involve grave injury and dangers, I should hesitate long before asking your consideration of what I hope to present to you; but, because I am so apprehensive of the consequences to our people, our country, and the tremendous enterprise in which we are engaged, I feel it incumbent upon me to trespass upon your time so that you might in your own way use your good judgment and great powers to avert what I am fully convinced would be the greatest cause of dissension and discontent among our people if the pending prohibition constitutional amendment were passed by Congress and submitted for ratification.
The Congress has passed and you have approved the law prohibiting the manufacture of spiritous liquors (whisky, etc.), during the period of the war. Existing law places within your power the modification, limitation, and, if necessary, the prohibition of the manufacture of beers and light wines. You have already exercised that power in part, and whenever or wherever it shall appear to you that either of these powers conferred upon you shall be necessary to be exercised, no one whom I know will find the slightest cause of dissent or disapproval.
The advocates of the proposed prohibition amendment have disingenuously declared that the amendment is necessary as a war measure. How fraudulent is this pretense is best understood when it is known that the amendment can not become effective until after the legislatures of three fourths of the States shall have ratified it, and, as is known, it is hoped that the war will have been successfully fought and won and come to an end long before the proposed constitutional amendment could come into operation.
But in the meantime that is, between the time of the passage of the amendment by Congress (if it should pass) and until its ratification or defeat, covering a period of from 6 to 7 years, and during the time when it is most essential that there shall be unity of spirit and action among the people of our country, the apple of discord will be thrown among them and the minds of the people of our country will be diverted from the essential subject of winning the war to a proposition which can only become operative after the war has been concluded.
Beer is the general beverage of the masses of the people of our country. Light wines are used among large groups of our people. Many of them have acquired the habit by heritage of centuries and generations. The workers- - the masses no more than others in their Indulgence in beers or light wines have found them a healthful part of their daily diet, particularly with their meals. With the cosmopolitan character of a large mass of our people, their divers habits and customs, I submit that it is neither wise, practical, nor beneficial to divide them into opposite camps upon a nonessential to the winning of the war, when its effectiveness even if it Is advantageous could only become operative after the war is closed.
In the countries of our allies liquors spirits, beer, and light wines are under control and regulation. Not one of our allies has attempted either during the war or proposed thereafter to prohibit their manufacture or sale. Indeed, the
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regulations provide as part of the rations to the fighting men some portion of beers or light wines, and in some instances a limited quantity of spirituous liquors.
Upon the proposed constitutional amendment neither the Senate committee nor the committee of the House of Representatives having this proposed constitutional amendment under consideration has given one moment of time for the purpose of hearing those who are vitally interested in this question. Requests for hearings of those vitally and primarily interested have been disregarded, ignored, and denied.
Hundreds of thousands aye, perhaps more than 2,000,000 of wage earners would be affected and thrown out of employment were nation wide prohibition forced upon our people. It is not difficult to understand how disaffected would they become during the war when the question would be forced upon their attention that at some particular time after the war they would be thrown into a state of unemployment and be bereft of the opportunity of maintaining themselves and their dependents.
Of course, you knew that the States which have elected to have prohibition within their borders are secured their full right and protection thereunder by State and Federal law, and the Supreme Court of the United States has recently guaranteed and strengthened that protection. The States, however, which elect and prefer not to avail themselves of that course should not, I submit, be coerced into becoming prohibition territory against their will.
My life has been thrown among the masses of our people. Whatever other characteristics has been developed in me from that mingling with them, I am vain enough to believe that I understand men; and in addition to and quite apart from the direct injury which this proposed prohibition amendment would inflict upon the workers primarily involved, I am constrained to say that the turmoil and dissension which are sure to be generated in the minds of our people as the result of this prohibition proposition causes me great mental and conscious disturbance.
Of course, I am conscious of the delicate position in which you are placed in this matter, but the projectors of this scheme of prohibition are neither wise, practical, nor patriotic. They are eaten up with egotism and fanaticism. Their project is not calculated to unite our people. They interject a subject calculated to divide and to cause dissension by advocating a measure which could only become operative after the war.
And it is because of the threatened danger which is involved in the entire scheme that I appeal to you as my leader, in common with the leadership of all our people in the great cause of justice, freedom, and democracy, to interpose whatever influence and power you can exert that this imminent danger shall be averted.
Hon. WOODROW WILSON,
President of the United States.
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR,
Washington, D. C., October, 20,1919.
SIR: It is the great fear of my heart for the future of our beloved country that leads me to write you upon a subject I regard as one of the most crucial that ever disturbed the stability of our Republic, and I therefore earnestly ask that you may have the opportunity and the patience to read what follows:
There is no man who grants to others the right to forge their lives, as to them may seem best, more than I do and have done in the more than half century of public discussion. No man has believed more earnestly in the future of this great country of ours than I. And no man would give his life more willingly that no harm should come to our Government.
But the great unrest permeating every part of our land, unrest that is turning conservative, honest, loyal citizens into Bolsheviks, I.W.W.'s, and rebels against our Government, forces me to raise my voice in protest against one of the greatest crimes against liberty ever perpetrated the prohibition amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
It was adopted while those who love liberty were either offering their lives on a foreign field against a merciless foe or helping to win the war by toiling in the mills and forges on this side of the ocean. The people were caught unawares. They had no voice or vote in bringing this great calamity upon them. It was surreptitiously and brazenly forced upon them against their will and the result has been the creating of bitterness against the Government.
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It has encouraged revolutionary vengeance with the result that there has been a wavering of stable citizenship toward rebellion by those who have been always loyal supporters of Government.
Has it caused industrial unrest? Let contemporaneous events attest. As you can understand, I am in receipt of scores of communications. Out of the many I quote from one which came to me a few days ago, signed by a number of rollers in some of the steel mills in Pittsburgh, as follows:
"Those foreign-born men can not understand why their drink has been taken from them. All the hot summer men worked under those fires and suffered men who have been used to their beer for 20 years worked and cursed. I have seen tired mothers with no milk in their breasts for their babies women who work hard deprived of their one luxury.
"You can not blame all this labor trouble on the I. W. W's or reds. The workingman of America is more incensed through having his personal liberty taken away from him than he is for wages and hours. That is the true reason back of all this trouble."
Permit me to add my evidence to that of the steel mill rollers. Reports come to me daily that the cause of the excessive unrest can be laid, to a great extent, at the door of prohibition; that it is fomenting strife wherever men work; that it has engendered a hatred for Government that is making sane men rebels against all government.
Class hatred is another progeny of prohibition. It is generally believed the cellars of the idle rich were overflowing with cases of wines and barrels of whisky. These supplies may last during the lifetime of many of these people. At the same time the workers who have no cellars and have not the opportunity of gratifying a normal even though temporary rational desire learn to hate their more fortunate citizens more bitterly and uncompromisingly.
There are no arguments that can be made, Mr. President, that you have not heard or read. But the most serious to me is the fact that men who always have been loyal citizens, who have given of their blood to save us from political slavery, are growing to despise our Government and freely and avengingly declare against it. This is a situation that should be regarded as dangerous in considering the signing of the bill for the enforcement of prohibition.
In the name of the organized workers in the United States, I appeal to you to consider well the danger to our great democracy. The people should be given the opportunity to determine whether they should have prohibition or a modified law permitting light wines and beer. Our great war for freedom will have been of no avail if we build up in the United States a powerful army of citizens who hate all government. Anarchists are not easily made, but those who have looked into the hearts of the great masses of the people have seen the dangerous germ of revolutionary discontent that would like nothing better than to have our Government destroyed.
It is also a fact that the average American has been a law-abiding citizen. He has lived a normal life and loved his Government. But he also loved liberty of action within democratic law. Therefore, the prohibition law, which was forced upon him without his consent, will make him a criminal if he violates it. Instead of a Nation of law-abiding citizens we would become a Nation of criminals and there could be no greater danger to government.
During the war labor bowed to every law that made for victory. Now that the Great War has ended, I appeal to you in the name of the American Federation of Labor and the great mass for whom our movement speaks I appeal to you to interpose with your great prerogative that the measure now before you may not become a law and that some rule of reason, limitation and regulation may govern the course of the people of our country.
President American Federation of Labor.
Hon. WOODROW WILSON,
President of the United States
White House, Washington, D. C.
Senator WALSH. What is the latest declaration of your organization on the subject?
Mr. ROBERTS. In 1923 I think was the latest.
Senator WALSH. Have your State federations expressed themselves?
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Mr. ROBERTS. Very many of them have. But they have all approved the action of the American Federation of Labor.
Senator WALSH. Could you submit for our record the action taken by the various State federations?
Mr. ROBERTS. They do not send in those.
Senator WALSH. You have no record of that?
Mr. ROBERTS. We did not bring a record of them. We only know that that has been done. On yesterday we received a telegram, or at least a copy of a resolution, from the Louisiana State Federation of Labor indorsing an amendment of the Volstead Act. But we just simply place them in the files. I think that resolution will be put in here.
Senator WALSH. Have you no record of action taken by the State, federations?
Mr. ROBERTS. We will have to go back and look over all the reports to find out.
Senator WALSH. Very well, that is all I wish to ask.
Mr. ROBERTS. There has never been any protest, I will say, from any State federation of labor or any city central body, or any local union.
Senator REED of Missouri. You took this official action of which you speak in 1923?
Mr. ROBERTS. The last one. But they had taken action before that.
Senator REED of Missouri. How was that? They have taken action also before that, do you say?
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes.
Senator REED of Missouri. But the last action by the American Federation of Labor was taken in 1923?
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes , Sir.
Senator REED of Missouri. Is it true, or I will put it this way: Am I correct in my statement that I understand you to say that you know the action of the American Federation of Labor was approved by the various State branches?
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes; we have never had any protest from any of them.
Senator REED of Missouri. Have you had affirmative action from any of them; similar action, I mean?
Mr. ROBERTS. We know that they have taken similar action. As I told you, like this Louisiana resolution, which I think will be introduced here. I think it was sent to the Senators from Louisiana, according to the statement in the resolution.
Senator REED of Missouri. Mr. Roberts, does your connection with
the American Federation of Labor lead you into a general contact
with or throughout the country?
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes, it has been very much so. And for two years I traveled with Mr. Gompers, and we were always in the crowd.
Senator REED of Missouri. You went from town to town and from place to place generally?
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes, sir; and I mentioned that in my statement, but I do not know whether you were here at the time or not.
Senator REED of Missouri. I came in a little late.
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes; it is in my statement.
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Senator REED of Missouri, I think you had covered, before I came in, Mr. Roberts, the very questions I was going to ask, so I will not do so.
Mr. ROBERTS. That was my reason for giving it, to show that I had personal knowledge of these things.
Senator REED of Missouri. In your opinion would the consumption of hard liquors and the development of home stills be minimized if the legal right were granted to get light wines and beer?
Mr. ROBERTS. I have not the least doubt of it.
Senator REED of Missouri. That is, all I wish to ask.
Senator HARRELD. If I understand you, the extent to which your organization has gone is that it has simply indorsed such a change in the: Volstead Act as would make it possible to sell light wine and beer.
Mr. ROBERTS. Yes.
Senator HARRELD. They are not opposing the eighteenth amendment as such.
Mr. ROBERTS. No. We believe that if you will do that it will be for true temperance, whereas as now it is not working out for true temperance. The Volstead Act is, as you have heard in testimony by men who enforce the law, unable to be enforced.
Senator HARRELD. That is all I wish to ask.
Senator WALSH. I just want to have the matter made clear. You are not able to tell us how many State federations of the American Federation of Labor have taken affirmative action either for or against the law as it stands.
Mr. ROBERTS. I can not give you the number, but I do know that they all coincide. in the action taken by the American Federation of Labor, because they have never protested against it. We know that.
Senator WALSH. Yes, and that you have made perfectly clear, that you have never had any protest from any of them.
Mr. ROBERTS. No.
Senator WALSH. I mean, against the action taken by the American Federation of Labor and by the executive council.
Mr. ROBERTS. No.
Senator WALSH. But the question that I asked was as to how many of them have taken affirmative action on their own account either for the law as it stands or against the law as it stands.
Mr. ROBERTS. I could not give the number, but I know that there are quite a number that have done it, because in traveling round the country I have heard them talking about it and what they do.
Senator WALSH. That is all.
Senator REED of Missouri. That is all I wish, thank you.
Mr. CODMAN. The next witness will be William J. McSorley, president of the building trades department. Is Mr. McSorley here?
Mr. MCSORLEY. Yes, Sir.
Mr. CODMAN. Will you please come around?
Senator WALSH. Mr. McSorley, you do solemnly swear that the evidence you are now going, to give in this hearing being held by the subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. MCSORLEY. I do.