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POLITICS

The story of Congress’s official bootlegger and how he helped end Prohibition

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Sean Higgins

It was 79 years ago today that the 25th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending the Prohibition Era. In honor of that the good folks at Reason magazine have highlighted the tale of George Cassiday, who played a key role in the repeal.

Cassiday, you see, was Congress’s semi-official bootlegger, providing liquor to lawmakers from 1920 through 1930. He even had offices in the both the Capitol’s Cannon House Building and Russell Senate Building.  From there he regularly supplied booze despite the fact that such sales were illegal at the time. The lawmakers simply observed a different set of rules. He was busted twice and after being hung it to dry the second time by his former clients he told everything he knew to the Washington Post. The resulting furor helped to turn public sentiment against Prohibition.

In related, Repeal Day fun, here’s a look back at how prohibitionists reacted. Here’s a piece I wrote a few years ago about the Prohibitionist Party, which was still exists (or at least did at the time the article was published; I haven’t followed up) and here’s my interview with Frank Kelly Rich, editor-in-chief of Modern Drunkard.

 

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