Typewritten Letter Signed, one page, quarto, April 7, 1932. On his name-imprinted State of New York Executive Chamber stationery, to Mr. J. Osborn Brink in Monrovia, California. Headed “Personal” at the top in Franklin D Roosevelt’s hand. With original envelope and a letter from Roosevelt to U.S. Senator Robert F. Wagner, dated September 9, 1930, which gives his stand on the present prohibition situation.
“I am glad to comply with your request, and to enclose a copy of a letter which gives my stand on the present prohibition situation.
“It is my personal belief that most of us are honestly interested in furthering the cause of true temperance, however we may disagree as to the method by which it may be brought about. As a lawyer and loyal American citizen, I naturally believe in the strict observance of all laws on our statute books. I do not approve, however, of permitting an unforceable law to remain there, or of letting such a law lapse by general consent. It is partly because of the disrespect for law in general which has greatly increased as a result of the disregard of this law in particular that I believe a change should be made.
“Naturally any change must be made by strictly legal and constitutional methods. Under a democratic form of government no other approach to the situation would be possible.”
In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States constitution was passed prohibiting the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States. As time went on, major supporters of Prohibition gradually became disenchanted with it. Roosevelt (who writes while serving as the Governor of New York) states in his letter to Wagner that “It is my belief that in the State of New York an overwhelming public opinion is opposed to the Eighteenth Amendment the Eighteenth Amendment has not furthered the cause of a greater temperance in our population, but on the other hand (quoting from language used in a resolution adopted by the American Legion) it has ‘fostered excessive drinking of strong intoxicants,’ and has ‘led to corruption and hypocrisy’, had brought about ‘disregard for law and order’ and has ‘flooded the country with untaxed and illicit liquor.'”
This letter was written while Franklin D Roosevelt was campaigning for President. He was elected seven months later, assuring the end of Prohibition. In February 1933 Congress adopted a resolution proposing the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution to repeal the Eighteenth. It was passed on December 5, 1933.
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