Welcome! You are listening to the Can't Make This Up History Podcast. I am your host Kevin, and today we raise a glass of cold water in honor of prohibition.
In the 86 years since its repeal, we have romanticized the era of the speakeasy and the gangster in film and literature. But what gets lost in popular culture is the prohibition movement's origins in the women's rights movement, how tricky the whole ideal was to enforce, and how enforcing the dry law put it at odds with Americans' constitutional freedoms.
I'm joined today by John Schuttler who co-wrote along with the late Hugh Ambrose, "Liberated Spirits: Two Women Who Battled Over Prohibition." John is a professional research historian who has made a 20-year career of digging through archives and librarians on behalf of authors, companies, and government bodies. In our discussion we cover two women with unique vantage points regarding prohibition. The first is Pauline Sabin, an influential East Coast socialite, who helped shape policy within the machinery of the Republican Party. The second is Mabel Walker-Willebrandt who served as Assistant Attorney General of the United States for most of the 1920s and was responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment.