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U.S. ARMY "PROHIBITION", 1890-1953
In 1890 Congress imposed limited prohibition on the Army by banning intoxicating beverages to enlisted men at military posts located in states, territories, or counties with local prohibition laws. However, the Army considered beer and light wines to be non-intoxicating and thus allowed their sale and consumption in post canteens at the discretion of post commanders.
Congress then expanded Army prohibition with the so-called Canteen Act of 1901, which forbade "the sale of, or dealing in, beer, wine or any intoxicating liquors by any person in any post exchange or canteen or army transport or upon any premises used for military purposes by the United States." The Secretary of War duly reported that the force and effect of this law had been carried out, and Army Regulations contained this particular prohibition statement for the next fifty years. In practice, however, the Army defined "intoxicating" beverages, as those containing "an appreciative quantity of alchohol."
When America entered World War I, Congress extended alcoholic prohibition beyond the Army's post boundaries. Section 12 of the Selective Service Act of 18 May 1917 prohibited intoxicating beverages "in or near military camps," which the War Department implemented by establishing a prohibition zone five miles wide around each post. Meanwhile, the same law made it illegal anywhere to sell intoxicating beverages to a member of the armed forces in uniform. Incidentally, the Judge Advocate General's Office in 1918--for the first time, perhaps--specifically defined intoxicants, as containing 1.4 percent or more alcohol.
Interestingly, even after the 21st Constitutional Amendment ended national prohibition in 1933, the Army continued to abide by the 1901 prohibition and the World War I standard of 1.4 percent on military posts. Not until midway through World War II did the Army raise its intoxication standard to 3.2 percent alcohol, a standard set by Congress a decade earlier. The Army's intoxication standard and its prohibition for military posts continued in force until 1953, when it was determined that the Canteen Act of 1901 had been repealed, in effect, by 1951 amendments to the Universal Military Training and Selective Service Act. Since then, post commanders have controlled the sale and use of intoxicating beverages.
U.S. War Dept. Report of the Adjutant-General of the Army to the Secretary of War on the Canteen Section of the Post Exchange. Extracted and bound separately from Annual Reports of the War Department, 1899. Wash, DC, 24 Nov 1899. 302 p. UC753A5.
U.S. Army "Prohibition", 1890-1953 p.2
. Sale of Beer and Light Wines in Post Exchanges. Wash, DC: GPO, 1903. 525 p. UC753A3.
. A Digest of Opinions of the Judge Advocate General of the Army. Wash, DC: GPO, 1901. 643 p. UB500.5.
. Post Exchange Regulations, 1899, pp. 6-7 and 1901, p. 1. UC753A4.
U.S. Congress. Congressional Record. (Senate, 4 Jan 1901). Vol 34. Part I. pp. 531-32.
56th Cong., 2d sess. [No longer on file.]
U.S. War Dept. Annual Reports, 1901. Vol. I. Part I, p. 15 and Part III, pp. 8-9. Wash, DC: GPO, 1901. UA241A145/1900/01.
. Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1901. Wash, DC: GPO, 1901. p. 52. AR.
See also AR 210-65 (to 1955).
. A Digest of Opinions of the Judge Advocate General...From July 1, 1912 to April 1, 1917. Wash, DC: GPO, 1917. p. 26. UB500A2.1912/17.
U.S. War Dept. Selective Service Regulations, 1918. Wash, DC: GPO, 1918. p. 355. UB343U56.
. Bulletins 45 (23 Jul 1917), p. 1-3; 48 (22 Aug 1917), p. 1; 4 (7 Feb 1918), p. 1; 5
(8 Feb 1918), pp. 1-3; and 35 (3 Jul 1918), p. 1. GO/Bul.
. Opinions of the Judge Advocate of the Army, 1918. Vol. II. Wash, DC: GPO, 1919.
p. 1041. UB500A21.
U.S. War Dept. Military Laws of the United States, 1921. Vol I. Wash, DC: GPO, 1921.
pp. 614-15. UB500.1921.A11v.1.
Also 7th ed, 1929, pp. 241-42 and 8th ed, 1939, p. 141.
. Digest of Opinions of the Judge Advocate General of the Army, 1912-30. Wash, DC: GPO, 1932. p. 793. UB500.1912.30.
Also ed 1912-40, pp. 110-11.
. Personnel, Military Discipline. Army Reg 600-10, Oct 1929. p. 4. AR.
U.S. Army "Prohibition", 1890-1953 p.3
U.S. War Dept. Circ 29 (25 Jan 1943), p. 2; and Circ 381 (21 Sep 1944), p. 3. GO/Circ.
U.S. Dept of Army. Installations, Administration. Army Reg 210-10, Jan 1950. p. 12. AR.
. Installations, Alcoholic Beverages. Special Regulations 210-65-1, Aug 1953. Rm 19.
. Digest of Opinions--The Judge Advocates General of the Armed Forces, 1954-55. Vol. 4.
p. 481. UB500v.4.1954-55.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES, 1890-1955
New York Times