Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Since 1999, I have been working on Prohibition in Indiana. The end result of that research is about to be published by the University of Notre Dame Press, as a biography of the man who led the dry charge, the Reverend Edward S. Shumaker. Shumaker's story casts new light on the dry cause, which continues to suffer from wet propaganda that distorts both its popularity and results, as well as being one of the first looks at the working of the Anti Saloon League at the local levels. That it also includes Shumaker's legal battle for being found in contempt of the Indiana Supreme Court (for calling wet justice wet in print), as well as how Prohibition became entangled with the Ku Klux Klan, and how Protestant drys' hopes to use Prohibition to forge a new national consensus about family, and race and Christian unity, are also important contributions to better understanding what many consider to be the key reform movement of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.