Dakota Datebook

The Grand Forks Herald

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Prohibition has a long history in North Dakota.  Liquor flowed freely in territory days, but politicians dreamed of a more civilized state.  Prohibition was first proposed at North Dakota’s Constitutional Convention in 1889.  It was a controversial issue, and it was voted on separately from the Constitution.  Voters passed it by a small margin and North Dakota entered the Union as a dry state.  Prohibition was supposed to solve a variety of problems, from juvenile delinquency to general crime.  Advocates of prohibition predicted that worker productivity would soar, and the dairy industry would get a boost as people turned to other forms of drink.


But prohibition did not mean that there was no alcohol in North Dakota.  Illegal taverns called “blind pigs” flourished.  The state even saw its share of gunfights between law officers and bootleggers.


Opponents of prohibition were determined to remove it from the state Constitution.  It was announced on June 10, 1927 that the Better Citizenship Association of North Dakota was planning for the upcoming political campaign.  The group decided to circulate petitions asking that all wet provisions in the state constitution be submitted to a vote of the people.  20,000 signatures were needed, but the group did not foresee difficulty in obtaining the required number.  It was determined that the group would launch a fight against prohibition and make an effort to highlight the issue at the state Republican political convention in Bismarck.


The plan was for the convention to adopt a platform and nominate wet candidates.  Nominations would be made for the United States Senate and Congress, all state legislative positions, and governor and lieutenant governor.  The Better Citizenship Association would support wet candidates even if they belonged to other political organizations.  The group also resolved to send wet delegates to the Republican national convention.  The plan was to adopt a platform that called for the repeal of prohibition.


The plan was, indeed, successful.  When the 18th Amendment was repealed at the national level, North Dakota officially became a wet state.


Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher

The Grand Forks Herald: June 10, 1927

Mandan Historical Society http://www.mandanhistory.org/areahistory/prohibitioninmandan.html

Bismarck Tribune http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/north-dakota-s-heritage-of-alcohol/article_6fd6cc22-3fca-11e2-ad03-001a4bcf887a.html

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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