1908-1919

Shane Beaman, Collin Bell, Dan McCormick, Colin Thompson

These ten years led up to the passage of the 18th amendment; they were, understandably, tumultuous years. While the amendment was passed in 1919, groups like the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union) and the ASL (Anti Saloon League) were working toward the goal of Prohibition since the early 1800s. While these national organizations were aiming to achieve Prohibition, there were both groups and individuals expressing and attempting to enforce their own beliefs. These groups sought to enforce their ideals by closing saloons, using values based advertisements, and social condemnation of those who drank.

Wabash experienced the expansion of Prohibition in a fairly dichotomous manner. The students appeared to not support the Prohibition and/or temperance movement, while the faculty and staff did so. There are multiple instances where the students voiced their opinions by actions or directly in The Bachelor itself. Further the position of the faculty and the President of the College are made clear by multiple instances of events on campus. While neither the students nor the staff and faculty succeeded in getting their stance officially recognized, there are cases where guest speakers from various organizations and other schools attempted to influence the Wabash community.

Although the College never enforced Prohibition before the 18th Amendment, there are instances where the push was made and resisted. Ultimately with the passage of the Amendment, the college was forced to go dry. The struggle experienced at Wabash College was not just localized on the campus. Indiana as a whole experienced a very turbulent decade including the adoption of local option laws in 1908. This conflict was forced to a close with the state voluntarily going dry in 1918 under the gubernatorial leadership of James P. Goodrich.  

 

 

Prohibition League Will Elect Officers on Friday

"Prohibition League Will Elect
Officers on Friday,"
the Bachelor, October 4, 1916

 

The College Votes Wet

"The College Votes Wet,"
the Bachelor, October 11, 1916

These Bachelor entries discuss the election of officers between twenty-five members of the college’s Prohibition Party and the lack of an overall presence on campus to influence the college to become dry. Thus, this article also brings to light the differing in opinions for or against prohibition on campus. And it also shows differing in opinions at all different levels: Federal, State, County, and Local.

Purdue, Indiana, and Old DePauw Want Dry State

"Purdue, Indiana, and Old DePauw
Want Dry State,"

the Bachelor, February 3, 1917

This Bachelor article reveals the outside pressure from other state colleges. Viewed as the leaders of the next generation, speakers advise Wabash student to commit to prohibition and support Purdue, Indiana, and Old Depauw in their efforts for Prohibition. From a report just a week later, Prohibition leaders from Purdue, Indiana, and Old Depauw present numerous signatures to the state legislature without any Wabash support. This continues the opposition of Prohibition at Wabash College.

Seniors Smoke and "Sorrow" for Saloons

"Seniors Smoke and
'Sorrow' for Saloons,"

the Bachelor, October 25, 1909

Seniors gathered to have a smoke session, which was a time where the class as a whole would come together and discuss current topics and issues; the hot topic of the session was the closing of saloons in Crawfordsville. The article shows the significance that the saloons had on the Wabash men and the importance of liquor. After the closing of the saloon the students were upset that the business was closed and they no longer had a place to enjoy distilled spirits.

Rule Refered To

"Rule Referred To,"
the Bachelor, October 29, 1908

Students were prompted to sign a card once they arrived on campus that stated they would not drink intoxicating liquors and or go to places where they could drink. This card shows that the temperance movement was becoming stronger in the Wabash community and that there was a big push to get the students to not partake in such actions. Further, the fact that then-President of the College, George Mackintosh, implies that students may not have been abiding by the rules of the card.

Prohibition League Has Speaker at Chapel

"Prohibition League Has
Speaker at Chapel,"

the Bachelor, October 14, 1914

This Bachelor article discusses an event in which the Wabash Prohibition League brought in Rev. Homer C. Bobbitt of Columbus, Ohio to the Chapel on a Tuesday morning. This shows that some Wabash men were making a conscious effort to bring attention to the subject of Prohibition on campus. They were hoping that by bringing in an outside speaker the interest in Prohibition would increase not only on campus but in the community as well.