Friday, December 7, 2012

“… i will burn your building so help me god”

Sometime during the mid-1800's, a distraught wife wrote this brief note to Albert Dewey, a mill owner in Quechee, Vermont, begging him not to buy any more rum for his workers. In 1882, the New Hampshire Temperance Union urged farmers to raise better apples that were a "blessing not a peril," and to avoid making hard cider because it made "men cross, ferocious, bloodthirsty." Alcohol, its use, abuse and prohibition, does tend to evoke strong and, sadly in some cases, violent responses.

Broadside 000064
Within six months of the January 16, 1920, ratification of the 18th amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of liquor, Dartmouth College came face to face with its own drink-related act of violence. On June 15, 1920, after an argument over the price of a bottle of liquor smuggled in from Canada, Robert Meads, Class of 1920, shot and killed Henry Maroney, Class of 1919.

Two days later, Dartmouth President Ernest Martin Hopkins made a formal statement to the press, denying that there had been any general system of smuggling of liquor into Hanover, and that the College authorities had, by every device available, kept watch and checked every known source of supply. He was loath to state this much, in case such diligence on the part of the College would imply an overwhelming need for such oversight, or that specific incidents would cast a bad light on the majority of students who did not partake of illegal drink.

However, in May the following year, President Hopkins was forced to admit in a letter to Matt Jones, Class of 1894, that the campus was in great trouble due to gallons of bootleg alcohol coming into town from Rutland and White River Junction, Vermont, and from New York. "I would like some real he-men with automatic revolvers and backbone who would hold up some of the suspicious automobiles that are floating around here…"

Broadside 001374
In April, 1932, Hopkins issued a statement in favor of ending prohibition, and was probably relieved that he had one less issue to worry about when the amendment repealing prohibition was passed, December 5, 1933.

Ask for ML-61, box 23, folder 25 to see the letter from the Dewey papers, Broadside 000064, Broadside 003174, and Henry Maroney's 1919 Alumni file.

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