PROHIBITION AND THE CRASH
Independence Day, 1929
Politically, the worst thing that could possibly happen to U.S. President Herbert Hoover would have been some tragedy involving the farmers whose approval he sweated to earn. So it came to pass that on the Fourth of July, 1929—as red-blooded Americans vigorously celebrated the nation’s emancipation from oppressive sumptuary laws—”volunteer raider” Jeff Harris shot and killed James Harris and his brother-in-law, Oscar Lowry, during a prohibition raid in Tecumseh, Oklahoma. Both victims were World War veterans and farmers whose only crime had been to live a few miles down the road from a farm which was being raided by federal agents. President Hoover ducked the issue entirely, and Prohibition Commissioner Doran now had to issue yet another statement assuring citizens that armed ministers and dry zealots would no longer be permitted to exercise concurrent enforcement powers on federal raiding parties.
Patriotic celebrants could scarcely ignore the parallels between Jefferson’s denunciations of King George in the Declaration of Independence and their current predicament. Hoover had further obstructed immigration, he had made judges dependent on his will, sent swarms of officers to harass our people, kept a standing dry army on land and in the Coast Guard which plundered our seas, and combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our original Constitution, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation. Furthermore, large bodies of armed agents were protected by mock trial from punishment for any murders which they should commit on inhabitants of these States. Cutting off our trade, imposing taxes without our consent, depriving us of trial by jury, waging war against us, and even constraining our fellow citizens to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands. These were things Americans now read about in current news stories. The now-yellowed parchment of the Declaration had been signed by America’s founders precisely to rid the land of these abuses. A Constitution which once limited government coercion of individuals now demanded the state-supported robbery and murder of citizen and foreigner alike.
–From PROHIBITION AND THE CRASH, by J Henry Phillips