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December 5, 1933

Repeal of Prohibition Shows Change in National Policy Trend

News Stories Editorials Advertising Charlottesville: A Safe Haven

The legislative decision to end prohibition on December 5, 1933 found its way to the top of the page in national newspapers like The New York Times and in The Daily Progress as well, under the banner headline, "Prohibition At An End; Reverse in National Policy: Effort to Block Repeal Refused By U.S. District Court." Along with this national Associated Press story, the newspaper places major emphasis on this issue with a number of local stories regarding concern over the problem of liquor control. In the story under the headline, "No Extra Effort to Enforce Law: Little Liquor Expected to Come In State From Wet Points; Sale of Beer of Higher Alcohol Contents Not to Be Permitted," local writers tell the story that there is a significant concern in Charlottesville over how liquor laws will be conducted in the dry state of Virginia and how trade will be regulated with other states. Certain types of beer, only of low alcoholic content, will be sold in Virginia, they say, but liquor will be available only from out of state.

In this instance, The Daily Progress news staff places significant emphasis on the concerns over the legalization of alcohol in the country after a long period of prohibition. The stories deal primarily with concerns over how this alcohol will be regulated and whether it will affect the morality of life and the conduct of individuals in the area, as well as the areas surrounding Charlottesville. The stories treat this as a major concern for Charlottesville residents, one which will definitely reach home in Virginia, just as in the rest of the nation.

The editorials in The Daily Progress took on a tone of extreme caution and trepidation concerning the national decision to legalize alcohol in the nation once again. With the Twenty-first Amendment, the editorials of the newspaper reflected the citizens' general concern over the legalization of alcohol near the dry Charlottesville area. In the December 5 editorial, titled "Repeal: Prospects and Difficulties," The Daily Progress editorialists reflect this definite and genuine concern over the implications of the new law.

In this editorial, it is explained that the present feelings of those in Charlottesville and Virginia are that the area is best-suited to remain dry, even though many other states are following the national precedent and legalizing alcohol. The editorial states that, "Virginia is one of those States that must wait. Our system of dispensation and control cannot be adapted and put into running order before mid-winter at the earliest." The piece also expresses concern that the state will not be able to enforce this dry rule to preserve its morality, because the influence of surrounding wet states may be too great. The editorial laments that, "Obviously, with enforcement practically at an end for the time being,, [preventing the importation of alcohol from Maryland] cannot be accomplished with anything like satisfaction. We may look for the wettest Christmas in recent tears with our shrunken detachment of prohibition officers being bombarded on one side by smugglers crossing the Maryland border and on the other by our own enterprising bootleggers, who are ready to make the best of what time is left." Words like these reflect the conservative concern of many in Charlottesville -- they are upset about not being able to maintain a dry state effectively in the midst of the national repeal of prohibition.

In the days immediately following the national repeal of prohibition, the ads did not change at all in regards to the advertising of alcoholic beverages, since Virginia remained a dry state. Within several years, however, there eventually appeared ads for many types of beer on the pages of The Daily Progress; later, ads for whiskey and other hard liquors eventually appeared in the pages of the Charlottesville newspaper.

But immediately following the national repeal of prohibition, this was not the case, for Virginia was still a dry state. The ads during this time period still reflected a disproportionate amount of wealth based in Charlottesville. There were a great deal of ads for Amoco gasoline, luxury cars and other fine merchandise. There continued to be the presence of reassuring ads from the local banks as well. Banks including The People's Bank of Charlottesville and The Citizen's Bank and Trust Co. ran ads claiming that they had the "stamp of approval by governing authorities" and that they were "a bank approved of soundness." While advertising of alcohol was not yet an issue, the banks in the area were still busy in the process of demonstrating that they were quite sound and worthy of being utilized by people with money on hand.

The attitude of The Daily Progress toward the national repeal of Prohibition was one of definite concern. Even in the news story headline, there is a definite tinge of anti-prohibition feeling in its declaration of an, "Emphasis to Block Repeal Refused By U.S. District Court." The local stories all concentrate on concerns about how to keep the alcohol out of the dry state of Virginia, how to keep it from flowing freely in from surrounding wet states like Maryland.

This concern is expressed consistently throughout the content of the newspaper: in the editorials, the ads and the news story selection. The newspaper reflects the genuine conservative tendancies of the people of Charlottesville and of the state of Virginia and a majority desire to keep alcohol to a minimum and punish the activitis of illegal bootleggers. Some of this can be seen in light of the fact that Charlottesville was not suffering greatly in the Depression -- the citizens held conservative morals as well as large pocketbooks. They did not need the escape of alcohol to get away from the ill effects of economic bad times; therefore their stance was strongly "pro-Prohibition." They met the new age of legalization with caution and a sense of resignation, while the Charlottesville economy continued to hum along nicely.

Inside This Edition: Reporting on Key Dates in the Depression

October 29, 1929: Stock Market Crash March 4, 1933: FDR Innaugurated March 5, 1933: FDR declares 'bank holiday' March 9, 1933: Emergency Banking Bill passed May 12, 1933: Federal Emergency Relief Act passed December 5, 1933: Repeal of Prohibition
May 6, 1935: WPA established August 14, 1935 Social Security Act passed November 3, 1936: FDR re-elected February 3, 1937: National Guard prepared to strike workers in Flint, Michigan September 16, 1940: Selective Service Act passed December 7, 1941: Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor


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