Prohibition in Kansas

A History

Robert Smith Bader

More than fifty years after repeal of the Volstead Act, this nation continues to debate the issues surrounding the use and control of alcohol. While the organized temperance movement in the United States is nearly as old as the nation itself, in no region of the country has the question of liquor control been of more consuming or enduring interest than in Kansas. Until now, however, there has been no broadly interpretive social history that chronicled prohibition in Kansas.

Robert Bader's comprehensive account presents an even-handed analysis of the reform movement and of the role of women and of religion in it. In 1880, Kansas became the first state to write into its constitution a prohibition on alcohol, making it one of the very few states with extensive experience with prohibition as a public policy in both the pre- and post-Volstead periods. Since the campaign preceding the 1880 election, through the era of Carry Nation and national prohibition, up to the present day, the issue has been under continuous, and usually heated, public discussion.

“Bader is very good in detailing the rise and fall of prohibition in Kansas, and he has done prodigious original research in investigating this unaccountably understudied topic.

—Kansas History

“Readers interested in such varied topics as alcohol use, women’s issues, reform generally, and midwestern politics will enjoy this excellent book.

—Journal of American History
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With remarkable ability, Bader dispels many of the shibboleths surrounding this reform movement, stressing both the accomplishments and triumphs of the "drys" as well as their failures and shortcomings. Based on sources never fully exploited before, this book transcends the Kansas experience and demonstrates important aspects of the national issue as well.

In addition to social historians and those intrigued by the state's colorful past, anyone interested in alcohol studies, sociology, and public policy questions will also find this a model study.