Prohibition and the Making of Modern America


Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars




For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2012-2013


This project provides a new narrative of national prohibition. Drawing on a wide range of manuscript sources to chart the experience of ordinary Americans with this unprecedented experiment to eradicate liquor consumption, it argues that national Prohibition was both modern and partially successful—indeed, that it was at the root of modern American politics. Prohibition mobilized various groups of Americans— ranging from evangelical Protestants to ethnic workers—to act politically in new ways and to adopt new ideological perspectives. By linking an account of institutional change with a social history of popular experience, this study shows how Prohibition contributed to the growth of the administrative state, the reshaping of American liberalism, and the birth of the twentieth-century Right.