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Thread: Dry counties

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  1. #1
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    Dry counties

    In the "Conecuh Ridge controversy" thread the phenomenon dry county was mentioned. I somehow took it for granted that this was a left-over compromise from Prohibition but from a (rather primitive) Google search I draw the conclusion that some of these counties predate prohibition by almost a hundred years.

    Can someone here possibly provide me with a historical background or, alternatively, pass forward a link to a good web site? Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: Dry counties

    To this day there remain many dry counties in states around the country, but especially in the South. Even in Kentucky and Tennessee -- the whiskey/bourbon axis, if you will -- dry counties today outnumber so-called 'wet' ones.
    In fact, even before national Prohibition was enacted in 1920, 33 states (including Tennessee) encompassing 63 percent of the population had voted themselves dry.
    I'd hate to try to point you to a "best" site about Prohibition, but just run a Google search for "history of Prohibition" and/or "history of the temperance movement" and you'll find plenty of references.

  3. #3
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    Re: Dry counties

    Thanks! I will dig deeper into it. I cannot claim to be particularly steeped in this era of American history. Of course I realize that the enactment of prohibition didnīt come out of the blue but I was surprised to learn that some counties in Texas appear to have gone dry already in 1850. Apparently it was a long dayīs journey into night.

    We actually had a similar movement in Sweden at roughly the same time but they never got closer than ration books. In 1922 their efforts came to an end when they were defeated in a national referendum (it was a close shave, though!).

  4. #4
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    Re: Dry counties

    Disclaimer:

    Ken Weber was having some trouble with this image, and so I sized and posted it for him. Whatever you read into it is his fault.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Re: Dry counties

    I understand "wet" and "dry" counties, but what exactly is a "moist" county? This whole map comes across in a very dirty way...

  6. #6
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    Re: Dry counties

    Moist counties are ones that have a wet city within a dry county. Kentucky has several different types of wet-dry counties. Here is a much better map, but my 7 year old computer couldn't handle the pdf. So here's the link: Map

  7. #7
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    Re: Dry counties

    If you find Butler County on the map, you will notice that it is in the midst of a number of dry counties. My relatives, being the enterprising types, made a living in the liquor distribution business. It is very interesting to note that some liquor stores on the county line do an unusually large volume in 200ml bottles of Ancient Age.

    Ken

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Dry counties

    Most states have something called "local option" that lets counties and even smaller jurisdictions, like precints, vote themselves dry. The current legal mechanisms for this were put in place after prohibition. Exactly what the mechanisms were before prohibition I don't exactly know, but the states certainly had the right to enact statewide prohibition and many did prior to national prohibition. Presumably, many or possibly all states had local option in place then too, at least permitting counties to vote themselves dry.

    The original concept of federalism was that the states were sovereign and the United States was supposed to be a kind of federation of sovereign states. The states still have the primary "police powers," which means most ordinary crimes are matters of state law and handled by state courts. Long way of answering the question and I'm not sure I really did, but now that I've typed all this, I guess I'll post it.

  9. #9
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    Re: Dry counties

    Long way of answering the question and I'm not sure I really did, but now that I've typed all this, I guess I'll post it.
    Itīs a good answer - thanks a lot! This "local option" is a bit of a curio to me because I donīt think that this has ever been a reality in Scandinavia. This is, of course, due to the fact that here alcohol is the responsibility of the central government.

    The only powers that the Swedish equivalents to counties (Kommuner in Swedish) can wield as far as I know is to grant licenses to restaurants and their ilk.

    Returning to US conditions, are the states with dry/wet counties the same as the ones where liquor sales are "free", that is, not being sold via state-controlled ABC stores? Is there a connection here?

  10. #10
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    Re: Dry counties

    Returning to US conditions, are the states with dry/wet counties the same as the ones where liquor sales are "free", that is, not being sold via state-controlled ABC stores? Is there a connection here?
    In many cases, it isn't even a matter of state control. Here in Minnesota, we have the control of off-sale beer, wine and liquor (sold in the package, vs. on-sale, where it is served by the glass, open can, open bottle, etc) at the city level.

    It seems as though about 1/4 of the cities own and operate the liquor stores. The rest merely license them as private, commercial businesses.

    I don't know anything about the existence of any dry counties or cities here, but I have heard of some cities where there are no liquor stores.

 

 

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