Republican Party Prohibition enforcement and the murder of innocent civilians were wearily familiar bedfellows in 1929.
The Sinking of the I’m Alone
Coast Guard Cutter Walcott, had given chase to a two-masted schooner of Canadian registry—the I’m Alone—in the Gulf of Mexico more than an hour’s cruise from Louisiana. The ship’s master, John Randall, held a Croix de Guerre for a skirmish with a German submarine, and wasn’t about to heave to for the U.S. Coast Guard in international waters. The Walcott was joined by the Dexter, which on March 22 fired on and sank the boat in the center of the Gulf, killing a French crewman after a 24-hour chase.
Canada, although signatory to a liquor treaty with the US, resented the shelling of vessels flying the Union Jack, especially in international waters. Never before had the Coast Guard dared to sink a foreign boat—much less an Allied vessel skippered by an actual war hero. Canada’s prime minister, William Mackenzie King had been approached for talks on a smuggling treaty early in January, but King, apprehensive over the direction tariffs might take under the Hoover administration, had decided to hold back smuggling agreements as a bargaining chip with which to influence American tariff legislation.
The Republican and Democratic parties in 1929 were still using the War on Drinks as a pretext for Mohammedan-style murders to please the Prohibition Party. There was not a single party dedicated to repeal at the time. Communists and socialists straddled the issue with the cowardice one expects of opportunistic parasites. Things are very different today, and prohibitionism is giving way to platforms and laws that enforce the rights of individuals–to keep and bear arms and to eat and drink what we please.
Based on a chapter from Prohibition and the Crash by J Henry Phillips