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Memorandum for the Secretary of War
May 12, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]
Subject: Sale of Light Beer in Post Exchanges.
Senator Sheppard introduced a bill (S. 860, copy attached) restricting the sale of beer in cantonments and their immediate vicinity. The feeling of all the troop commanders I have seen, notably men like Haskell, is that such a restriction for cantonments would inevitably drive men away from the cantonments to dives and honky tonks, with unfortunate results.
The issue, of course, is an old one, but unfortunately it is being revived at the present time when we have the situation under excellent control. There is justification for considering beer of less than 3.2% alcoholic content (now being sold) as non-intoxicating. Although the Act of March 22, 1933, which so defined 3.2% beer was repealed with the repeal of prohibition, it was the last pronouncement of Congress on the subject, and the beer now being sold in our post exchanges complies strictly with its provisions. The automobile makes former zone limitations more or less ineffective, as it is easy for the soldier to visit places where we have no control over what is sold, or over the character and orderliness of the premises. Our troubles begin when men leave the reservation to find liquor, and the incentive to do this is stronger when they cannot get legal beer at home.
Some time back I gave an hour to the president of the WCTU and her working committee, I have written many letters explaining our point of view; and now I am receiving a deluge of letters from mothers, all of which follow a certain form, pressing for the passage of Senator Sheppard’s bill.
As this is a matter of great public interest, I wanted to bring the immediate situation to your attention.1
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. Mrs. Ida B. Wise Smith was president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. On June 30 the Senate voted to drop the sections of S. 860 pertaining to alcoholic beverages.
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 499.