Whiskey in the White House – 1921

On January 16, 1920, the Prohibition Amendment banned the sale, manufacture and transportation of intoxicating liquors.   The only way to get alcoholic beverages was with a doctor’s prescription.  See e.g.  Crissinger – prescription    The President of the United States — Warren Harding — as a Senator from Ohio voted for Prohibition.  But he did so with a twinkle in his eye. . . .

Notwithstanding the dire strictures of Prohibition, the White House remained stocked with fine quality booze imported from Canada.  The President had help from his “Ohio Gang” — a fraternity of boyhood pals whom he brought to Washington to help run the country.   

Some years ago, I acquired a collection of spicy correspondence from Daniel R. Crissinger, a member of the Ohio Gang, which provides insight into the smuggling of booze into the White House.  The letters are dated from April to July 1921 and are directed to Orlando Rapp (“Orlie”) – another Ohio pal.  An example is a letter dated July 2, 1921 – “You have been wanting some Gordon gin.  I think it can be had here at $105 per case.”   

While the President’s name never comes up, you can bet that he was up to his corkscrew in complicity.  I have attached the letters.   Also attached is a 1924 doctor’s prescription for “sherry wine.”  And it is an “emergency.”  Mercy!  I hope the poor woman got her medicine. . . . . 

Crissinger 1  Crissinger 2    Crissinger 3  Crissinger 4  Crissinger 5 

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