• U.S.


4 minute read

History. In May, the Administration both vexed and pleased the politically militant Anti-Saloon League and its friends. Roy Asa Haynes, Acting Commissioner of Prohibition, whom the League admired, was replaced by Dr. James M. Doran as full-fledged Commissioner. Dr. Doran is a quiet man. The League could not be sure he would be militant enough.

But the League felt better when Brigadier General Lincoln C. Andrews was at last allowed to re-sign as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in charge of Prohibition. General Andrews had never been militant enough to suit the League And for his successor the Admin-istration chose Seymour M. Lowman, famously Dry onetime (1924-26) lieutenant-governor of New York.

Observers fancied that Mr. Lowman, though Dr. Doran’s superior, would let Dr. Doran direct most of the actual Prohibition enforcement. Not so thought the League and its friends. They took heart from Mr. Lowman’s consistent record and predicted that no new broom ever swept cleaner than this new sponge would sop.

Conduct. Mr. Lowman took office Aug. 1. He had held office just 36 days when he gave both the Administration and the Dry lobby-ists a foretaste of what his official conduct would be. In a Labor Day speech at Buffalo he denounced Governor Alfred Emanuel Smith as wholly responsible for a liquor situation in New York State which would take (he estimated) 30,000 Prohibition agents to correct entirely.

“Crooks, Bribery.” Last week Mr. Lowman had been in office just 40 days when he made another statement — even louder, even more startling.

He had, he told newsgatherers, been studying the records of his organization most carefully. He had come to these conclusions: “There are many incompetent and crooked men in the service. Bribery is rampant. There are many wolves in sheep’s clothing. We are after them. A lot of them have lately been let out all over the country. The Government Intelligence Service has been very helpful. Some days my arm gets tired signing orders of dismissal,

“I want to say, however, that there are a lot of splendid, fearless men in the service; men who are entirely dependable. Fortunately, they greatly outnumber the crooks. . . .

“The object of prohibition is to promote temperance and sobriety. To my mind it has already done much along that line. To claim that thus far it is a complete success would be ridiculous.

“There has been much improvement. You can go to bed in a hotel these days unaccompanied by the refrain of Sweet Adeline— Less drinking in hotels helps tired people.

“The great mass of Americans do not drink liquor. There are two fringes of society who are hunting for ‘booze.’ They are the so-called upper crust and the down-and-out in the slums. They are dying off fast from poison ‘hooch.’ If America can be made sober and temperate in 50 years a good job will have been done.

“Congress passed the Volstead act after careful consideration. The duty of enforcing it was placed on the Executive branch of the Government. In no way, either directly or indirectly, has there been the slightest intimation made to me by any public official in Washington other than that the greatest possible effort must be made by the Government for complete enforcement of the law. Statements to the contrary are untrue and malicious and should stop.”

The Administration. Charges of just this sort, brought by Mr. Lowman’s predecessor, General Andrews, were what earned the Ad-ministration most of the Anti-Saloon League’s recent pestering. But, pestering aside, words like “crooked” and “bribery,” when coupled with “rampant,” are disturbing language for any man to apply to a Federal service he has only lately been appointed to assist. Such words might well discolor the reputation of the ultimate head of the service in question.

When Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon read his new assistant’s words he frowned instantly and sent for their author. Secretary Mellon kept Assistant-Secretary Lowman closeted for a solid hour, presumaby explaining that discretion is the better part of ardor.

Anti-Salooners were scarcely better pleased than Mr. Mellon. It makes Prohibition sound so hopeless to say it may not come true for 50 years. It makes Prohibition sound almost iniquitous to imply that its enforcement has fostered corruption.

Resignation? A new sponge must always be soaked before using or its fibres may scratch the hand that uses it and the surface it is intended to clean. The question last week in Washington was: did Secretary Mellon put such a thorough damper on Assistant Secretary Lowman that the latter might soon resign?

*Refrain: Sweet Adeline, Sweet Adeline

At night, sweetheart, for you I pine.

In all my dreams,

Your fair face beams.

You are the idol of my heart,

Sweet A-adeli-ine!”

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