• CMTU History

Episode #17: Liberated Spirits




Today we raise a glass of cold water in honor of prohibition.


In the 86 years since its repeal, we have romanticized the era of the speakeasy and the gangster in film and literature. But what gets lost in popular culture is the prohibition movement's origins in the women's rights movement, how tricky the whole ideal was to enforce, and how enforcing the dry law put it at odds with Americans' constitutional freedoms.


I'm joined today by John Schuttler who co-wrote along with the late Hugh Ambrose, Liberated Spirits: Two Women Who Battled Over Prohibition. John is a professional research historian who has made a 20-year career of digging through archives and librarians on behalf of authors, companies, and government bodies. In our discussion we cover two women with unique vantage points regarding prohibition. The first is Pauline Sabin, an influential East Coast socialite, who helped shape policy within the machinery of the Republican Party. The second is Mabel Walker-Willebrandt who served as Assistant Attorney General of the United States for most of the 1920s and was responsible for enforcing the 18th Amendment.



Key Points in Today's Podcast

Some of the major topics I discuss with John in this episode are:

  • The long connection between the temperance and prohibitionist movements with the women's suffrage movement

  • Mabel Walker-Willebrandt's tenure as assistant Attorney General of the United States

  • Pauline Sabin's efforts to expand the role of women in the Republican Party

  • How national prohibition through the 18th Amendment proved to be nearly impossible to enforce

  • Why the enthusiasm for prohibition waned over the 1920s


For the Ever Curious

If you are interested in learning more about Hugh Ambrose or John Schuttler, consider checking out these resources:


www.hughambrose.com - Information about Hugh, his books, and information about the HBO adaption of his book The Pacific.


www.johnschuttler.com - John's biography, his other projects and research interests, and information regarding his work as a professional research historian.


Books by Hugh Ambrose



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