1920s Drug Fiends

Excerpted from Prohibition and the Crash, by J Henry Phillips

Chapter 18

Drug Fiends

            A five-to-four decision by the Supreme Court in Seattle’s “whispering wires” bootlegging case settled the 4th Amendment issue of wiretapping on June 4. Our highest Court on that day pronounced government skulking over phone lines legal, ethical and good.[1] The Court’s stated position in finishing the work begun with the Sullivan and Marron decisions was that the Bill of Rights was so important that only Congress—certainly not the Judicial branch—had the authority to attribute “an enlarged and unusual meaning to the Fourth Amendment.”[2]

Thirteen Coast Guards were suspended June 2, ostensibly for accepting bribes to overlook smuggling of “liquor” from ocean liners, but that story had been suppressed for over 2 months and had developed an odor.[3] In Buffalo, June 4 was opening day for a conference between U.S. and Canadian customs officials. The meeting was organized by Assistant Treasury Secretary Seymour Lowman. This is the same Lowman, who replaced Lincoln Andrews after Andrews was forced by Elmer Irey – the heavy-artillery agent – to resign. Placed in charge of customs, Lowman’s specialties included narcotics smuggling and dismissing “dirty” agents.[4] When newsmen finally found out about this meeting nearly 3 weeks later, Secretary Andrew Mellon assured them that no railroad men had been threatened and that it “had nothing to do with prohibition or enforcement of the Volstead act.” This naturally raised suspicions about drugs, suspicions reinforced when 6 persons were shot on the floor of the Yugoslav House of Representatives. Yugoslavia was a major exporter of medical-grade opium and was reeling from widespread riots. This news hit reporters even as they tried to pry a scoop on the secret meeting from Secretary Mellon.[5]

In April 1921, the Literary Digest had run an unsigned article “Is Prohibition Making Drug Fiends?” The article raised troubling questions. The State Department understood perfectly well by 1922 that war-fed output and prohibition-enhanced smuggling facilities were thwarting all efforts at narcotics control.[6]

Repeal advocate Franklin Fabian speculated in a 1922 book that prohibition might have something to do with U.S. narcotics consumption being 6 or 7 times as high as in most European nations.[7] The very suggestion was hotly denied by prohibitionist Herman Feldman, who also denied that figures describing the true situation could be had from any source. Feldman relied on the usual apocrypha and anecdotes to shore up his beliefs, and shrugged off any hard data on arrests and convictions as proving only that enforcement was improving. Feldman’s source, a Dr. Kolb, argued that alcohol was actually a sort of gateway drug which led to narcotics use.[8] Nowhere does Feldman explain why no narcotics planks figured in U.S. political party platforms before 1924. Yet that year the Democrats—eager, of course, to exclude Asian immigration—suddenly began railing in their platform against “the spreading of heroin addiction among the youth,” while the Prohibition Party merely blinked and stood mute on the issue.[9] The sight of prisons steadily filling up with “narcotics” convicts led the Democratic Platform Committee and Herman Feldman to diametrically opposite conclusions as to why.

At prohibition hearings held during April of 1926 Congressman William S. Vare of Pennsylvania had declared the “increased use” of narcotics throughout the nation “appalling.”[10] Then on May 14, 1928, Chairman Graham of the Judiciary Committee reported that 28% of federal inmates were “addicts” and pushed for the Porter bill to segregate the junkies on a Kentucky “narcotics farm.”[11]

Yet the wisdom of the Harrison Act stood unchallenged even after 537 pounds of heroin and morphine were discovered in Brooklyn by New York Deputy Chief Inspector Louis J. Valentine’s staff in 1927—the year of the recent “Tong War” on U.S. soil and civil turmoil on Chinese soil.[12] Not only had alcohol prohibition increased U.S. demand for heroin and morphine, but the well-developed channels for alcohol smuggling served even better as conduits for smuggling drugs. It was probably easier to bribe a customs agent to look the other way if the agent believed that rum, not heroin, was being smuggled in.


[1] (NY World Almanac 1929 91)

[2] (Olmstead et al. v. U.S. 06/04/28 [465])

[3] (NYT 8/15/28 23:4)

[4] (Merz 1931 248-249)

[5] (NYT 6/22/28 31; 6/23/28 34, 52)

[6] (Taylor 1969 150)

[7] (Fabian 1922 77-80)

[8] (Feldman 1927/30 109, 113-115, 111)

[9] (Johnson and Porter 1975 246; 249)

[10] (Feldman 1927/30 101-102)

[11] (NYT 5/15/28 10)

[12] (NYT 7/1/28 14; 1/13/27 4)

Does your company ever need to come to terms with pharmaceutical suppliers south of the border? Why not hire an interpreter familiar with the history and background of many foreign products?

Physics melts political phiction–thanks to Tony Heller

NOAA shows US December temperatures increasing at 0.1F per decade since 1930. Climate at a Glance | National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) They are actually decreasing at 0.1F per decade since 1930. In order to make Zeke happy, I used only a stable set of stations which haven’t changed latitude since 1930. The NCDC…

via Corrupting December At NCDC — The Deplorable Climate Science Blog

The Visible Hand

The visible hand is the one that’s invisible to Socialist congregants… it holds a deadly weapon. 


Adam Smith’s formulation of the forgotten, unproductive and withering hand of parasitism

Every socialist, communist and miscellaneous looter is fond of reciting Smith’s mention of the visible “invisible hand” of freedom, for it gives the impression of mystical superstition and life-after-death as the basis for valuing freedom as opposed to coercion. When was the last time you saw THIS tidbit of Adam Smith’s writings?

But if we consider the matter more closely, we shall find that this interested diligence of the clergy is what every wise legislator will study to prevent; because, in every religion except the true, it is highly pernicious, and it has even a natural tendency to pervert the truth, by infusing into it a strong mixture of superstition, folly, and delusion. Each ghostly practitioner, in order to render himself more precious and sacred in the eyes of his retainers, will inspire them with the most violent abhorrence of all other sects, and continually endeavour, by some novelty, to excite the languid devotion of his audience.

William Graham Sumner’s original formulation of The Forgotten Man included a cast of four characters: A and B, who put their heads together to decide what C shall be forced to do for D. “C” is the Forgotten Man, the robbery victim, the slave. The Forgotten Hand is an appendage of which of these characters?

The Forgotten Hand, the one holding the gun, belongs to B–the man A sends to rob C in order to pay the both of them for pretending to be doing something benevolent for D. “B” is a gang of government agents, paid to believe that whatever “A” decides is good enough to kill for, nothing more. “A” is the real culprit. “A” is the Congress that assures the crowd that freedom is selfish, that only the terrified, fearing for their lives, can be generous (or else!). “A” is also the voter who elected to send men with guns out to take someone else’s money by force. Why? So that A and B can preen and strut as beacons of selfless nobility and disinterested altruism. In the Republican version “A” is the Congress, “B” is the IRS and DEA, CIA, FATF, AML, TF, CFT, DNFBP, IRS-CID, INL, ICRG, GIABA, GAFISUD, FSRB, FIU, FinCEN, EAG. In the Democratic Party version, “B” is the IRS and FDA, HEW and an alphabet soup of other, equally unproductive parasites.

These are the armed and infatuated ruffians who arrogate the power to destroy wealth in furtherance of some scheme of  expropriation. A “protective” tariff, such as caused the Rebellion of 1776, the Nullification Crisis, then the Civil War is promptly countered by speculation in smuggling. Smith described the economic results of an entrenched kleptocracy’s resort to asset forfeiture:

By the ruin of the smuggler, his capital, which had before been employed in maintaining productive labour, is absorbed either in the revenue of the state, or in that of the revenue officer; and is employed in maintaining unproductive, to the diminution of the general capital of the society, and of the useful industry which it might otherwise have maintained.

The domino effect of confiscation, withdrawal of deposits, collapse of credit, liquidity crises and widespread bankruptcies brought about by Presidents HarrisonHoover, Reagan, Bush and Bush Jr is simply the reaffirmation of what Adam Smith wrote in 1775, and Ayn Rand improved and set on an ethical footing in 1957. There, too, was The Forgotten Hand:

I mean that I hold the upper hand!” “With a gun in it?” “Oh, forget about guns! I—” 

If you want to change America back into a free country, consider making a small donation to the State Libertarian Party in places like Oklahoma, Ohio and Alabama. This is easy to do over the internet using a PayPal account.