At the same time as he signed the proclamation officially ending Prohibition, FDR asked that saloons be prohibited and he “enjoined all citizens to cooperate with the government in its endeavor to restore a greater respect for law and order, especially by confining their purchases of liquor to duly licensed agencies.”
Governmental control of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and coffee (yes, coffee!) have a long history as an article in today’s Weekend Wall Street Journal makes clear.
Although the U.S. is indelibly associated with Prohibition, authorities the world over have long regarded the pleasures (or vices) of alcohol, tobacco and coffee with deep suspicion. Concerns about these habit-forming substances’ potential health hazards didn’t provoke the official hostility. Instead it often came from paranoia over what the masses might get up to if allowed to let off a little steam without supervision.
What “the masses” might get up to including overthrowing their masters’ yoke. It was in the coffeehouses and taverns of Boston and Philadelphia that men such John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and others gathered to discuss the idea of an independent nation.
So whether it is alcoholic beverage control or gun control, the key word is always going to be control. Government, you see, just doesn’t trust us.