In 1933 Americans did something they had never done before: they voted to repeal an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Eighteenth Amendment, which for 13 years had prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, was nullified by the passage of another amendment, the Twenty-First. Many factors helped create this remarkable turn of events. One factor that was essential, Kenneth D. Rose here argues, was the presence of a large number of well-organized women promoting repeal.
Even more remarkable than the appearance of these women on the political scene was the approach they took to the politics of repeal. Intriguingly, the arguments employed by repeal women and by prohibition women were often mirror images of each other, even though the women on the two sides of the issue pursued diametrically opposed political agendas. Rose contends that a distinguishing feature of the women's repeal movement was an argument for home protection, a social feminist ideology that women repealists shared with the prohibitionist women of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. The book surveys the women's movement to repeal national prohibition and places it within the contexts of women's temperance activity, women's political activity during the 1920s, and the campaign for repeal.
While recent years have seen much-needed attention devoted to the recovery of women's history, conservative women have too often been overlooked, deliberately ignored, or written off as unworthy of scrutiny. With American Women and the Repeal of Prohibition, Kenneth Rose fleshes out a crucial chapter in the history of American women and culture.
"Rose forcefully demonstrates that in the debate over the repeal of prohibition many of the women involved (notwithstanding marked differences in class, religion, or party affiliation) shared a common moral vision based on the protection of the American home. With commendable intellectual integrity, he refuses to rest with the simplified conclusions some scholars resort to in order to make an attractive and politically tidy case for 'their kind of woman.'" ~Martha Banta,University of California, Los Angeles
"Rose writes with relish and humor and contributes an important set of insights to the American experience with Prohibition, an experiment that still haunts the country over sixty years after Repeal." ~Robert E. Burke,Professor Emeritus of HistoryUniversity of Wisconsin
"Though neglected by historians, the prohibition-repeal movement loomed large in U.S. politics in the late twenties and early thirties. In this very readable and well-researched study, Kenneth Rose explores the roles of women's organizations in this struggle. In the process he restores some once-influential women to their rightful place; challenges some widely held assumptions; and reminds us that women's history, like all history, can surprise us by its rich diversity and unexpected twists." ~Paul Boyer,University of Wisconsin-Madison
"Useful, insightful, and finely balanced. . . . Of the many books on the Prohibition, Rose's is among the best." ~W. J. Rorabaugh, Pacific Northwest Quarterly
"Unique in [its] emphasis on the role of women's organizations in both prohibition and repeal, and how the arguments used by women's organizations to promote the Eighteenth Amendment in 1923 were used by opponents to repeal it in 1933. . . . The author is dedicated to recovering the history of politically conservative women who have been traditionally ignored or dismissed in other historical studies." ~Book News