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Turning Points Features

"Wisconsin...a Utopia where everybody drinks their fill and John Barleycorn still holds forth in splendor"

So began Frank Buckley of the Bureau of Prohibition in his 1929 survey of prohibition enforcement in Wisconsin. Buckley's survey of Wisconsin provides a detailed portrait of the state soon after citizens had voted to repeal the state's own prohibition enforcement act. Buckley describes conditions in each county, offering his own colorful observations of life in certain cities, including this summation of Hurley: "gambling, prostitution, bootlegging, and dope are about the chief occupations of the place" (pg 1105).

Despite the passage of national prohibition in 1919, alcohol use remained fairly widespread. Fueled by media coverage of the gang wars in Chicago, public concern over crime and lawlessness throughout the U.S. grew in the 1920s, leading to the creation of a commission charged with investigating law enforcement efforts across the country. Popularly known as the Wickersham Commission after its chairperson, George W. Wickersham, the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement took surveys of virtually every state. More "wet" than "dry" it seems from this survey, prohibition in Wisconsin appeared doomed to fail.

Posted September 15, 2005
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