Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Temperance and Prohibition in Bossier Parish

The temperance movement in the early 1800s served as a foundation for the “dry” crusade, which led to the prohibition era. During the time before the prohibition era, some municipalities and states elected to become dry, refusing to license the sale or manufacturing of alcohol. Bossier Parish exercised its local option on Sep. 26, 1899, making the entire parish dry.

The announcement appeared in The Shreveport Times on Sep. 27, 1899, stating, “The Second Ward of Bossier Parish Goes Dry.”

The Shreveport Times, Sept. 27, 1899. 
“The election for or against whiskey license in the Second ward of Bossier parish took place yesterday and from all accounts it went dry by a large majority. Mr. Henry Carlton and several other gentlemen who went to Benton by private conveyance to cast their votes were in the city yesterday and report the vote against license as almost unanimous. When they were there but two votes were known to have been cast in favor of license. The result of this election makes Bossier a dry parish throughout. The last place to surrender was the parish seat [Benton]. The victory for temperance is due to the work of the ladies of Bossier who have earnestly engaged in a crusade against whiskey license for some time. One by one the strongholds fell.”

On Dec. 18, 1917, the National Prohibition Act, commonly referred to as the Volstead Act, was proposed by congress. On Jan. 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states. The Prohibition Act took effect on a federal level on Jan. 16, 1920. Louisiana, Gov. Ruffin G. Pleasant ratified the 18th Amendment on Aug. 9, 1918, prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol for beverage purposes.

The following is an article from The Bossier Banner on Dec. 25, 1919, “Business and Prohibition,” which describes a dry Christmas in Plain Dealing.

“Mr. W.A. Bounds and Mr. J.S. Rodgers each of whom has known Plain Dealing ever since the town was established some thirty-odd years ago, were remarking Tuesday that it was the first really and truly ‘dry’ Christmas in its history. Heretofore whiskey has been shipped into Plain Dealing by the express medium and bootlegging has been at times rather common.

“This Christmas there has been no whiskey, and Mr. Rodgers estimated the saving in cash at some thousands of dollars, to say nothing of the saving in broken heads and disrupted family relations.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA.
National Photo Company Collection. LOT 12351-5 <item> [P&P]
“The reporter suggested that the saving in the way of prohibited liquor would go far toward making up the shortage in the cotton crop, and Mr. Bounds agreed that $5000 or $6000 was not too high a figure to claim as a saving from old John Barleycorn in this community this Christmas – remembering that a single quart of whiskey now costs a giant sum all by itself.

“The Christmas trade was good – all the merchants were busy. Collections have been better on account of prohibition, it was agreed, and probably no business man in Plain Dealing would like to go back to the ‘wet’ Christmas.”

This year is the 100th anniversary of prohibition in the United States. To learn more about prohibition in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

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