One of the pleasures of my job is combing through America's archives. It is especially interesting to read the editors' analyses of political events. What continues to surprise me is the breadth of the subjects they wrote about. That and the sharpness of their opinions—these gentlemen did not mince words. Here's a fun example: two editorials from the 1930s on the futility of the Volstead Act. The magazine editorialized against Prohibition dozens of times, and if their opinions sometimes seems dated or idiosyncratic, they are still a pleasure to read:
While, then, it seems to us that it would be a grave error to teach children to revere the Volstead Act, we have been contending since 1920 that the need of teaching temperance in our schools was greater than ever. The Volstead Act has transferred the saloon to the family kitchen. Children grow up nowadays in blissful ignoranee of what the old-fashioned saloon looked like, but it is a rare child indeed who escapes all contact with home brews, and not a few soon learn to call the family bootlegger by his first name. The shelves, on which mother used to range the family supply of jams, jellies and catsups, are now occupied by bottles and jugs containing noisome mixtures concocted by father. And it is rather startling to hear a child of nine complain that the beer is somewhat flat, and to witness the rage of her older sister when informed that there can be no cocktails tonight, because some boys and girls dropped in during the afternoon, and surreptiously lapped up the family store of gin and rum.
We may be old-fashioned and crabbed and without understanding. Probably we are; but as long as this sort of thing keeps up, we view Prohibition as a delusion and a fraud.
You can read the rest here.
And you can read my review of Ken' Burns' new documentary on Prohibition here.