Anti-Saloon League of Maryland, 1898-1924
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Type of Work135 pages
SubjectsThe Maryland Anti-Saloon League (1898-1924)
Temperance organizations in the United States
Prohibition in the United States
There has been very little study of the role which state anti-saloon leagues played in the struggle for national constitutional prohibition. Using Maryland as a case study, the narrative examines the methods and policies which the state leagues used in pursuing their agitation, and notes the degree to which these leagues exercised autonomy from the dictates of the national organization, the Anti-Saloon League of America. The study also investigates a basic question of prohibition scholarship as to whether temperance sentiment developed along rural/urban lines or, as recent studies suggest, was primarily based on social class. Following a survey of bibliographical materials cited in the secondary literature, potential primary source records were identified. Exhaustive review of the joint microfilm edition of the Temperance and Prohibition Papers, the American Issue and materials in the Ohio Historical Society collection uncovered much relevant information. The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Methodist, and the U.S. Census of Population also provided substantial data. Although most of the Maryland League's official papers remain undiscovered, sufficient evidence has been gathered to reconstruct the essential record. The Anti-Saloon League of Maryland developed out of the Maryland Temperance Alliance in 1898. The Maryland League formally affiliated with the Anti-Saloon League of America in 1900. With the exception of the Superintendency of Reverend C. A. Griese from 1904-1907, the Maryland League enjoyed capable leadership. Superintendents Nicholson, Anderson, Hare, and Crabbe were all able to advance the fortunes of the League in securing additional "dry" territory. The Maryland League also enjoyed financial stability, not only as a result of its able, aggressive leadership, but also because of the overwhelming support of the Protestant evangelical churches, and the continuing interest of well-to-do benefactors. This combination of financial stability and able, aggressive leadership allowed the Anti-Saloon League of Maryland to battle the entrenched Baltimore-based political organizations on an equal basis. However, the state League was never able to secure a state-wide temperance or prohibition law. This failure was a consequence of the Maryland legislative tradition of "state-wide local self-government" employing the wholesale trading of political favors. This trading allowed the "wet" political bosses to stalemate the strong rural temperance contingency in the legislature. The rise to power of urbane Baltimore politicians such as Albert C. Ritchie following World War I put a further obstacle in the path of the Maryland League's efforts. Following successive biennial defeats of state-wide enforcement legislation, the League abandoned its legislative agitation in 1924, and henceforth concentrated its energies upon less-dramatic "educational" activities. The study reveals that the state leagues played a vital role in the Anti-Saloon League of America's campaign for the Eighteenth Amendment. It also shows that viable state leagues had the power to operate with virtual impunity from the dictates of national League authority. In addition, the Maryland experience indicates that the most consistent indicator of temperance sentiment was rural/urban residency, contradicting the recent scholarship of Timberlake and others who suggest instead that social class was the dominant factor.