Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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Virginia—“Wet” and “Dry

  • Map of Virginia—“Wet” and “Dry,” 1909
This 1909 map of Virginia compares the areas where alcohol had been outlawed and where it was still legal. Women were very active in the prohibition movement.
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    Woman's Holy War; Temperance Broadside, ca. 1874
  • Appeal of the Women of Staunton
    Appeal of the Women of Staunton, Broadside, ca. 1900
  • Suffrage Victory Map
    The Rights of the People–Women are People. Suffrage Victory Map, 1920
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Map of Virginia—“Wet” and “Dry,” 1909

Printed in 1909, this map represents the parts of Virginia, and the United States, that were “wet” and “dry.” These terms refer to the prohibition movement. In “wet” areas, the sale and consumption of alcohol was allowed, but in “dry” areas the sale of alcohol was illegal. On this map, the black areas represent wet places and the white areas, dry ones. The bottom of the map presents statistics from the Virginia State Auditor of Public Accounts. They include the number of saloons and bars in cities and counties, the number of breweries and distilleries, the number of liquor stores, and the number of alcohol licenses. The statistics indicate that the number of licenses to sell alcohol in 1901 was approximately 2,900, which had decreased by 2,043 by 1909 to 857, a major accomplishment for the prohibition movement in Virginia.

The major prohibition organization in 1909 was the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) of Virginia. Clergymen had founded the national organization in 1893. The ASL of Virginia was established in 1901 at the Second Baptist Church in Richmond. The organization quickly became directly involved in the state's politics. The superintendent of the organization when this map was made and one of its most effective leaders was James Cannon Jr., a Methodist cleric. He worked directly with politicians to draft prohibition legislation. By 1909, saloons were illegal in eighty-six of the state's one hundred counties. The ASL of Virginia's biggest victory came in 1916, when statewide prohibition went into effect.

For Educators

Questions

1. What do wet and dry mean in the context of this map?

2. Which are three "wet" cities or towns? Three dry cities?

3. Why was 1916 such a successful year for the ASL of Virginia?

Further Discussion

1. Did Prohibition achieve its aims or lead to a great increase in organized crime?

2. Why did the U.S. Congress repeal Prohibition?

Links

Working Out Her Destiny: Women's History in Virginia

"Anti-Saloon League of Virginia." In Encyclopedia Virginia, published by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities

Suggested Reading

Mathews, Mary Beth. "To Educate, Agitate, and Legislate': Baptists, Methodists, and the Anti-Saloon League of Virginia, 1901–1910." Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 117, no. 3 (2009): 214–249.

Pegram, Thomas R. "Temperance Politics and Regional Political Culture: The Anti-saloon League in Maryland and the South, 1907–1915." Journal of Southern History 63, no. 1 (1997): 57–90.