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Prohibition Failed Then and It Fails Now

Seventy-nine years ago today, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. sent this letter to Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler. In it, Rockefeller – despite being a life-long teetotler and early proponent of alcohol prohibition (and, hence, an early proponent of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution) – called for an end to alcohol prohibition.

I learned of this letter from Mary O’Grady’s superb column in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which she argues that the same sort of Rockefellerian honesty and integrity from today’s drug warriors might help put an end to the atrocious and failed ‘war on drugs.’  (I thank Mary for sending me a pdf of Rockefeller’s letter.)

Indeed, the very publication of this column of Mary’s today in the Wall Street Journal – a publication long known for its hawkishness on the drug-war front – is itself a hopeful sign that at least the more sensible elements of American society might soon find their way to the only reasonable conclusion on this matter: the drug war is a catastrophe in countless different dimensions and, thus, should be ended.