Association against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA)
ASSOCIATION AGAINST THE PROHIBITION AMENDMENT (AAPA)
The Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA) was the leading political pressure group helping to secure repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Historians credit the AAPA with fostering Republican-Democratic polarization on the issue, giving repeal greater respectability, and greatly speeding up the repeal process.
Founded in 1918, the AAPA became the first anti-prohibition organization operating outside the affected industry. Its founder, William H. Stayton, was a former naval captain concerned about centralized encroachment on state and local rights. Although unable to block the Eighteenth Amendment, he kept the organization alive, had it incorporated, and by 1926 was claiming 700,000 members. Initially, Stayton worked to secure voter pledges, but he soon began stressing quality over quantity and seeking members whose stature and resources could sway public opinion and enhance respectability. Among such recruits were John J. Raskob, James W. Wadsworth, Henry H. Curran, and Lammot, Pierre, and Irenee du Pont; in 1928 these men restructured Stayton's association. Stayton became chair of a showcase board, while Curran became president, and operating power went to a small committee headed by Pierre du Pont.
Following its reorganization, AAPA influence grew, in part because Raskob became national chairman of the Democratic Party and worked to link the party with repeal. An outpouring of publicity, stressing prohibition's costs and tying repeal to economic recovery, also helped to change public opinion. In addition, cooperation with upper-class women, particularly the new Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, produced positive images of repeal's supporters. In 1932 the AAPA succeeded in getting repeal into the Democratic platform, and subsequently Jouett Shouse, having moved from Democratic headquarters to become president of the AAPA, worked to make repeal a central campaign issue and took encouragement from the sweeping Democratic victories. Lawyers associated with the AAPA helped to shape the Twenty-First Amendment and get it through Congress; state ratification, completed in December 1933, proceeded largely according to AAPA guidelines.
Its mission achieved, the AAPA disbanded. Its leaders, however, later became the core of the American Liberty League, dedicated to fighting New Deal centralization. This time they soon became discredited, lending support to charges that repeal had come through undemocratic manipulation by selfish plutocrats. For a time this became the standard historical interpretation, but further study of the AAPA has brought greater appreciation of its anti-centralist philosophy and its effectiveness and influence in the context of changes being wrought by the Great Depression.
Burk, Robert F. The Corporate State and the Broker State:The Du Ponts and American National Politics, 1925–1940. 1990.
Dobyns, Fletcher. The Amazing Story of Repeal: An Expose of the Power of Propaganda. 1940.
Kyvig, David E. "Raskob, Roosevelt, and Repeal." Historian 37 (l975): 469–487.
Kyvig, David E. Repealing National Prohibition, 2nd edition, 2000.
Ellis W. Hawley