Ohio State nav bar

Women's National Committee for Law Enforcement

During the 1920s, the Women's National Committee for Law Enforcement, a federation of Protestant women's organizations that claimed at least 12 million followers, observed that prohibition was partially effective in achieving its goals. The group sought better law enforcement for the better realization of the reform, as its president, Mrs. Henry W. Peabody, informed a Senate committee. The National Prohibition Law, Hearings before the Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 69th Congress, 1st Session (1926): 666-67

We represent here to-day not only organizations of women, but, as a whole, we represent the home, the school, the church, and we stand firmly for no amendment to the eighteenth amendment. We hold the Constitution of the United States inviolate. We stand for no modification of the Volstead Act, but rather a strengthening. We stand for strict law enforcement, with the removal of all men who do not strictly enforce the law.

We believe that in the greater part of the territory of this country the law is observed as well as any law. Having traveled in various parts of this country we did not observe more drinking than ever. We find conditions vastly improved. Health, as testified to by the insurance companies; morals, as shown by the statements which will be produced later; and certainly the economic condition, on the word of our Secretary of Commerce, seem to have justified prohibition.

The conditions in States like New York and Maryland, where there is no State enforcement law, which is required by the eighteenth amendment, framed to secure concurrent action, are bad. The only remedy, it seems to us, as women, is not a change of law which is satisfactory to the majority of the States, but to do what the Constitution requires to make the law enforceable. That would remove very many of the offenses which are piled up to prove that the Nation is not appearing to enforce its laws.

As women, we know the old saloon and the wreckage in homes and lives of boys, men, and women. While the vote for the eighteenth amendment was the vote of the men--it was also the vote of the women who had prayed and worked for protection from this ancient evil. We had thought it settled, and perhaps for that reason and believing in the Constitution, we have not done as much as we should have done to see to the enforcement of the law. Perhaps we as women, not being in the position to select men who should administer these laws, trusted too much and needed the awakening which has come. We are convinced that we have a good law--a righteous law--written into the Constitution of the United States--that it does not in any way affect the personal liberty of well-doers--those loyal to the highest interests of the country and the great majority of the people.

We are not satisfied that the law is being enforced in all places. We are sure it will be when the Nation has had time to adjust itself. In a well-regulated home it is the policy of a mother to work faithfully and patiently, knowing that perfect obedience requires law and discipline. It is never the policy of a good mother or teacher to say the children are disobedient--therefore let us give in to them and let them do as they like.