New York Troopers - History
Preserving the Past for Those Who Follow
 
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PROHIBITION

1919 TO 1933

Temperance may be defined as: Moderation in all things healthful; total abstinence from all things harmful. (Greek Philosopher Xenphon– 440 B.C.)

Prohibition, the 18th Amendment or Volstead Act, as it was known, passed in January 1919 and was a measure designed to reduce drinking by eliminating businesses that manufactured, distributed and sold alcoholic beverages.

The prohibition era had a sense of lawlessness since consumption was not eliminated, only an attempt to curb production. Organized crime took over the manufacture and distribution of almost all illicit alcohol produced during the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Stills and speakeasies popped up in every center of population. Over-zealous police and federal agents violated civil rights when searching for and destroying paraphernalia of alcohol. While most Americans respected the law, the shine of “dry” began to wear off. As the great depression set in, prohibition was seen as an affront to personal liberty pushed on the nation by religious moralists. Alcohol was also seen as a source of revenue for the local, state and national governments. On February 20, 1933, Congress passed an amendment repealing prohibition.

 
 
  1922
 
1922
 
  1922
 
 
 
 
        Tpr. Gerald Schusler
 
 
 
Dumping illegal alcohol - 1923
 
 
 
 

 

  L Troop

 
 
END
 

 

MULLAN GAGE ACT – NEW YORKS PROHIBITION LAW

In April 1921, the New York State Legislature passed the Mullan-Gage Bill into law. It was closely patterned after the Federal Volstead Act giving authority to law enforcement in the enforcement of prohibition. It was short lived, as many newly elected legislators had campaigned on the repeal or modification of the law. On June 1, 1923, the law was repealed in total.

TROOPERS ENFORCEMENT OF PROHIBITION LAWS

Created in 1917, the new state constabulary was responsible for the enforcement of all laws. Due to an increase in automobile accidents caused by drivers with inadequate, glaring or no headlights, the increased enforcement of headlamp laws resulted in many residual arrests for violation of the newly enacted prohibition laws. Troopers found bootleggers intentionally drove without lights in an attempt to evade police. Violators were initially arrested on federal charges and turned over to federal authorities. With the enactment of New York’s Mullan-Gage Act, violators were charged under state law and processed through the local judicial system.

There were daily instances of arrests by troopers for prohibition & liquor law violations. Alcohol was being produced in bathtubs for home use and sale to a friend or two. Stills were established in rural wooded areas, barns and back rooms all across the country for large-scale production and distribution. Alcohol legally produced in Canada brought premium prices and was smuggled across the border by whatever means were available.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FREDONIA. NY STILL
The still was 1965. We got word that a subject in the T/Sheridan
was selling moonshine to PR farm laborers in Brant.We
tried to find the guys and source of the sugar. No sugar. We found that
he was purchasing 50 gal barrelsof molasses that he would distill it into
Rum.
When we raided the place, we located the still in the basement.
While breaking up the barrels, the rum started to flow onto the floor
and into a sump hole and was pumped out into a ditch at the rear of
the house.
 
We thought it would be good to have a picture of a uniform trooper
breaking a barrel. We selected Tpr. E. J. Haas. Elmer stuck his feet
in a couple of barrels and began to slide his way over to the barrels
while I weakened one for him to finish off. What we forgot was
that the basement floor now covered with about 2 inches
of rum, concealed the sum hole in the middle of the floor. Alas, poor
Elmer found the hole as he fell in. Sgt. Jim Curry sent him back to
SP Freonia to change. He told him he was not to stop any cars on
the way back.    

Provided by Retired Inv. Gerry Forrester

 
  Fredonia - Sgt Curry
 
  Fredonia - Tpr. Elmer Haas
 
 Fredonia - Inv. Gerry Forrester
 
  Fredonia - Tpr. Leon Winkowski
 
 
 
 
END


















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