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 explores the history of an issue still very much alive, and does so with remarkable ability. . . . A model study.”

—Mark Lender, author of Drinking in America: A History and The Dictionary of American Temperance Biography

“Bader’s treatment of this complicated subject represents a substantial research achievement, made the more remarkable by his eye for the salient detail, his talent as a social historian, his lively writing style, and his sense of humor.”

—Craig Miner, author of West of Wichita: Settling the High Plains of Kansas, 1865–1890

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.