THE NATIONAL PROHIBITION LAW HEARINGS
April 5 to 24, 1926
TESTIMONY OF MATTHEW WOLL, PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL PHOTO-ENGRAVERS' UNION AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, WASHINGTON, D. C.
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Sir WILLIAM STAVERT. Certainly.
Senator GOFF. Then it comes back to the proposition that intoxication is rather mental than physical.
Senator REED of Missouri. Oh, no.
Sir WILLIAM STAVERT. I think so, Senator.
Senator REED of Missouri. I do not know what you mean by that. I was never mentally drunk in my life.
Senator WALSH (presiding). That is all, Sir William, and we thank you.
Mr. CODMAN. Mr. Chairman, inasmuch as there is only an interval of about 10 minutes before 12 o'clock, and I suppose the subcommittee will adjourn, I should like to say--- well, first, I will make my statement with regard to what we should like to do.
Senator WALSH. We have not determined as yet.
(There was a brief conference by the members of the committee.)
Senator WALSH. We should like to hear what you have to say, first.
Mr. CODMAN. We should be very glad, if I understood the chairman correctly this morning, to give up our right or privilege of going on on Monday in order to satisfy the convenience of the committee. We should like, however, to be assured, as I believe the chairman proposed this morning, that this suspension of our side of the hearing is to continue during Monday alone, and we wish to know that in order that we may make arrangements to have our witnesses here in Tuesday morning, and in order to have plenty of time to make such arrangements.
Senator WALSH. That was my suggestion.
Mr. CODMAN. That, I wish to state, is entirely satisfactory to us. Now, inasmuch as we have a few moments left, may I say that Mr. Matthew Woll, one of the vice presidents of the American Federation of Labor, wishes to have a moment merely to present a statement to be filed with the committee.
Senator WALSH. The committee will hear Mr. Woll for that purpose.
Mr. CODMAN. And it is understood that we can go on with our witnesses at 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning next?
Senator WALSH. Yes.
Mr. CODMAN. I thank you.
Senator WALSH. You will be sworn, Mr. Woll. You do solemnly swear that the evidence you are about to give in the hearing pow being held by the subcommittee of the Committee on the Judiciary will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
Mr. WOLL. I do.
Senator WALSH (presiding). You may proceed.
TESTIMONY OF MATTHEW WOLL, PRESIDENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL PHOTO-ENGRAVERS' UNION AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN FEDERATION OF LABOR, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. WOLL. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee I want to present this statement in order to conserve the time of the committee, and may I add to that
Senator REED of Missouri (interposing). The statement you present here you make to us under oath?
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Mr. WOLL. I do.
Senator WALSH (presiding). Very well, that will be made a part of the record, as your statement.
Mr. WOLL. I am president of the International Photo-Engravers' Union and have been for the past 20 years. I am president of the International Allied Printing Trades Association, representing all of the International Printing Trades Unions of North America and have been for the past 10 years or more. I am vice president of the American Federation of Labor and have been for a number of years past. I hold other official positions in the labor movement but believe the foregoing warrants the conclusions that I am qualified to interpret the attitude of labor toward the Volstead law.
In my official position I am constantly traveling, coming in almost daily contact with all elements making of our social organism, and believe myself capable of presenting impressions and observations of various classes in our society and Government toward sumptuary legislation in general and the Volstead law in particular.
I am not a drinking man, nor have I any connection whatever or interest of any kind in any organization or association, firm or enterprise concerned in the promotion of the liquor traffic. I therefore believe that the observations hereinafter noted are prompted from an unprejudiced or unbiased point of view.
Records of American organized labor, and particularly the records of the American Federation of Labor, clearly indicate that the labor movement of our country has always favored temperance in drinking and has supported every undertaking in that direction. A review of the activities of labor likewise demonstrates that much progress had been made in that direction up until the time of the enactment of the eighteenth amendment, followed by the enactment of the Volstead law. Since that time all efforts toward temperate drinking have ceased-indeed a continuation of such activities have since become subject to the severe criticism of being in contravention of the Volstead law.
By this law drinking of any beverage containing more than one-half of 1 per cent is made a national crime and to counsel anyone to moderate or temper drinking of alcoholic beverages is necessarily a national crime. This very fact has made impossible the continuation of the great educational and moral campaign heretofore engaged in by organized labor.
The passage of the eighteenth amendment and enactment of the Volstead law have not tempered or moderated drinking. Whatever improvement has taken place in the meetings of the trade-unions, in the working conditions of the workers, in the greater remuneration received by them for services rendered, in the placing aside of saving reserves are the result of trade-union activities and in spite of this prohibitive form of sumptuary legislation.?? ?
Intemperate drinking does prevail among workers and is and is constantly increasing. The same difficulties experienced before the enactment of the Volstead law are experienced at present and in a more aggravated form. A noticeable feature is the great number of young men, netering the industrial world, who take a particular delight in their ability to secure liquor and the ease with which the law of the land may be disregarded. This disregard of an
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unenforceable law had led to the even greater danger of disregard for respect and order of the home and of the parents.
It is true the Volstead law has dispensed with the public saloon. Instead there has come the greater evil of the "speak-easy" places the atmosphere of which is charged with delight for resentment of law and order. It is in this atmosphere that the youth of the land is now receiving its first introduction into the world of crime. Indeed the first intoxicating drink immediately marks the young man of to-day as a criminal.
In addition, it is quite a common occurrence for one to be invited to the homes of the workers and others to join in a party, the chief attraction of which is the violation of the Volstead law and the drinking of badly manufactured beers or other alcoholic concoctions. Everyone of these meetings is merely another step in the unconscious campaign toward disregard for law and distrust of government.
There is not at present such great resentment against the eighteenth amendment as there is toward the Volstead law, because the latter measure is the method by which the great mass of our people feel that their rights are being denied them. There is the general impression in all classes of citizens and especially among the great mass of wage earners that the definition of intoxicants, as contained in the Volstead law, is unsound, illogical, and in contravention of the intent and spirit of the eighteenth amendment. It is the general impression that a beverage containing 2.75 per cent alcohol is not an intoxicating drink in the general acceptation of that term and that the Volstead law has declared a beverage an intoxicant which in fact is not an intoxicant but merely a stimulant. The public is, therefore, fast losing confidence in Congress and trust in our National Legislature to safeguard and promote the freedom of the American people.
This spirit of distrust is wearing the spirit of resentment and intolerance. This feeling is engendered by the ever more vigorous efforts made to throw aside the safeguards with which the individual has been surrounded to protect him from undue and unjust prosecution and punishment on the part of the Government, supplemented by the glaring malfeasance of those in public office. Trust and confidence is being rapidly undermined in these charged with the executive, judicial, and legislative functions of government, those charged with the administering of the affairs of government.
The general impression prevails among all classes of our citizenship that the eighteenth amendment and the Volstead law, with its interpretation by courts and the enforcement by governmental agencies, reached almost limitless bounds. The search and seizure provisions of this law are simply appalling and are violative of the very spirit of the fourth amendment.
No law has ever caused so much dissatisfaction. Millions of homes have been turned into breweries and distilleries. Children who never knew the taste of liquor now have little difficulty in obtaining it.
Enforcement officers have become agents provocuteur. Bribery, when obtaining is concerned, has become a fixed practice--- and is no longer considered one of the most detestable of criminal offenses.
There is likewise the impression and firm conviction that Congress in the enactment of the Volstead law did not follow the spirit of the eighteenth amendment. It was believed that the eighteenth amendment was merely a declaratory and an enabling act and that the
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several States of the Union would be accorded their State rights to determine the question of what constitutes an intoxicant beverage. The Volstead law not only undertook to determine the conditions that would constitute a crime but defined an intoxicant beverage to such an extent that every State has been denied the right and opportunity of determining this question and at the same time enable it to provide adequate means for the enforcement of such a law. Indeed it is the overwhelming opinion and judgment that Congress deliberately undertook to destroy State rights and substitute therefor domination by the National Government.
Disapproval of this assumed power by our National Government has manifested itself in several forms. A number of States have refused to support enforcement of a law in which they have been denied their constitutional right of participation. Consequently they have shifted the burden of enforcement on to the National Government. Resentment against this invasion by the National Government of State rights has likewise caused the States as well as the people to have little confidence in our National Government. The temporary defeat of the proposed twentieth amendment may safely be laid at the door of Congress because of the ruthless enforcement law enacted by it under the eighteenth amendment. Everywhere the people an distrustful of the National Government. And the fear of centralized power among our people is well exemplified and justified in the Volstead law.
Congress, by the enactment of this law has converted our federated fort of government into a national legislative oligarchy. It is fast becoming clear that it has been our legislative representatives in Congress who are the responsible personator this unwarrantable intrusion upon the freedom of our people, their right to govern themselves through local self government and the right of the several States to determine the degree and extent of the exercise of the police power of the State. The eighteenth amendment provided for coequal and joint power of the several States in the enactment of enforcement laws. Congress has completely disregarded that concurrent right of the several States.
Another impression of growing importance is that entertained by a large number of our citizens toward the attitude of a number of ecclesiastics on the subject of sumptuary legislation. It is difficult to understand those preachers of Christianity who advocate and undertake to promote private morals and personal conduct by the appeal to the power of the State rather than by the appeal to the mind and the heart. The appeal for a higher morality and improved human conduct must be directed to the conscience of the people and not to the fear of Government.
In all history, wherever and whenever the church and State have attempted by law to fix arbitrarily the moral conduct of its people, dissention and disorder have followed. Christianity's appeal was never intended to be advanced in the form of a policeman's club. Whenever it directs its appeal in that fashion it no longer holds out the reward of Almighty God for doing good but places the reward in the hands of politicians, and makes of itself the tool of politicians or politicians the tools of the church. Either consequences are bad.
Summarized, then, my impressions, gained from an extensive observation, are that when chaos and disrespect for all law are the
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result of the enactment of any law, it should warn those responsible that they have made a grievous mistake that should be rectified.
Laws which develop law breakers in otherwise law abiding citizens have no place on the statute books of America.
No law ever caused so much dissatisfaction or brought forth so many charges of malfeasance in office--- nor has caused greater expenditure of the peoples' moneys for its attempted enforcement than the Volstead law.
Workers entertain the firm conviction that the Volstead law is nothing less than class legislation, not intended for the rich but designed only to curb the personal liberties of those of lesser means. Improvements in the higher standards of life and work and greater reward for services rendered are not due to the Volstead law, and greater stead law, but in spite of it and that trade-union organizations and activities in the main are responsible for prevailing improvements.
Organized labor has ever been engaged in promoting temperate drinking and was making great progress until the enactment of the Volstead law. The continuation of such laudable activities now constitute a national crime.
Millions of homes, in the majority of which liquor was never seen, have been turned into breweries and distilleries. The youth of the land is being reared in the atmosphere of disregard for law and lack of confidence in government.
Former law-abiding citizens see nothing wrong in drinking and even in distilling liquor or making home-brew. Men and women who never drank before now seek it openly. The pocket flask may be found in almost every store and is never absent from any meeting, dinner, or dancing party.
Young and old alike do not regard the Volstead law as of sane legislative expression under the eighteenth amendment but as an impression of fanaticism clothed in the form of law which has its counterpart in Mussolinism and Bolshevism. All represent a denial of self-government.
Beer drinking has been forced to give way to whisky and near whisky and other poisonous concoctions.
The observance of the Volstead law is in its breach and its virtue in disregard for law.
Bribery of officials in so far as the enforcement law is concerned is no longer looked upon as a detestable criminal offense.
The Volstead law is looked upon with distrust and as a deliberate denial of State rights and as is provided for in the eighteenth amendment.
The Volstead law is held to be an unwarranted, unjustified, and consciously or unconsciously designed to create an oligarchic assumption of power and centralized government.
Denial of the right of States to define intoxicating beverages and to exercise their police power is causing the people to lose respect, faith, trust, and confidence in our National government and in our State governments as well.
Private morals and personal conduct can not he controlled, much less advanced, by fiat of law. Appeal for a higher morality and improved conduct must be directed to the mind and conscience of the people, not to the fear of government.
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President Wilson was full aware of the dangers and evil consequences that would follow the enactment of the Volstead law. He therefore declined to associate his name with such an un-American form and character of legislation by vetoing the act.
The evils that have grown out of the Volstead act are so destructive that William H. Taft, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, found it necessary to warn our people of the dangers ahead. In the foreword of The Law of Kinsmen, by Lord Show of Dunfermline, England, the Chief Justice charges that prohibition is responsible for lawlessness in the United States. He said he had been strongly opposed to national prohibition and one of the reasons was that he "had grave doubts whether it could be enforced and feared a resulting demoralization of all law."
In summing tip the cause for the present wave of lawlessness, Chief Justice Taft said:
Moreover, we have a special promoting cause for lawlessness in our country. As an outgrowth of the reforming and religious enthusiasm engendered during the war we enacted into the Constitution and statutes the policy of prohibiting in the whole United States the manufacture, transportation, import, and export of intoxicating beverages.
In a colder and calmer state of the public mind the reform is found to be at variance with the habits of many of our people, especially in the larger cities; and from the outset the law has become most difficult to enforce.
Abraham Lincoln, the great emancipator, made a similar statement in the Illinois House of Representatives, December 18, 1840, which clan be found on page 136 of the Journal of the House of that date:
Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man's appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principle upon which our Government was founded.
The denial of a beverage of wholesome quality and of alcoholic content that does not result in drunkenness has resulted in the evergrowing demand and supply of a beverage of strong alcoholic content and more often of a poisonous substitute. Morality, sobriety, temperance, respect for and observance of law are best advanced by substitution of sane, temperate legislation, not by ruthless prohibition.
The remedy for evils arising out of intemperate drinking or the drinking of intoxicating beverages is not by prohibition, such as is embraced in the Volstead law. The failure of the existing enforcement laws is not more enforcement laws. The true remedy is to reestablish the confidence of the people in law and government by so amending the Volstead law as will more nearly conform to the desires, wishes, and attitudes of the people and that will enable them to exercise some discretion of Judgment. Regulation, not prohibition, is the proper method of approach. Excessive drinking is gradually and steadily dying out under regulation in all countries. It was dying out in America--- before the Volstead law. State instead of national enforcement legislation is the method to be. used. Amend the Volstead law so that a beverage containing not more than 2.75 per cent alcohol per volume shall not be held to be an intoxicant and truly restore the right to the several States to determine such further restrictions and regulations as may best suit the needs, requirements, and attitudes of the citizens of their respective States.
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Might I add to this statement a personal observation in connection with some of our educational institutions?
Senator WALSH. You may.
Mr. WOLL. I have two sons, one who is to-day at the Massachusetts School of Technology, in his last year, studying to be an electrical engineer. It was but three, weeks ago that I was in Boston and saw the boy. Asking him about the liquor question, I was informed that every fraternity at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and I presume that holds true at Yale University, is being solicited by liquor sellers once each week if not more often. I learned that there is never a party arranged at which liquor is not present.
Furthermore, my other son is attending the University Of Illinois, in his second year, taking a course in law. When I saw the boy I asked him about conditions there, and learned that practically the same situation obtains.
I say to you gentlemen frankly that I am very much disturbed about conditions of that nature. When at institutions of this kind boys in the different fraternities, believing that they have been protected against hard liquor, are confronted with this dreadful situation is a condition that very much disturbs me.
Furthermore, whenever we have any meeting of any size at all in our organization we see the liquor agent around the halls trying to sell liquor to the workers and invariably sales do take place.
So it is that we say there has been no improvement through national prohibition so far as the liquor situation is concerned. In fact the conditions are worse then they were ever before.
I feel that I can testify honestly, unbiasedly, and unprejudicedly, because I am not a drinking man and never have been, an have no connection in any way with any liquor interest or organization of any kind.
I thank you.
Senator WALSH. The committee will now adjourn until 10 o'clock Monday morning.
(The Government liquor control act of 1923 of the Province of Manitoba, Canada, and the first and second annual reports of the Government Liquor Control Commission of Manitoba, presented for the record by Mr. Russell, are here printed in full as follows:)
THE GOVERNMENT LIQUOR CONTROL ACT, 1923, WITH AMENDMENTS, 1924
AN ACT To provide for Government control and sale of liquors
His Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly Of Manitoba, enacts as follows:
1. This act may be cited as "The Government Liquor Control Act."
2. In this act, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Commission" means the commission created by this act under the name The Government Liquor Control Commission.
(b) "Dentist" means a duly qualified practitioner of dentistry who is lawfully and regularly engaged in the practice of his profession within the Province.