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Temperance and Prohibition, the DRYS vs WETS Part II

This is part 2 of 2 on temperance and prohibition in Rowan County, North Carolina.

Boyden was Salisbury’s postmaster for seventeen years and mayor from 1901-1909.  His desire for liquor was not from any great personal propensity to drink but to retain a tax base permitting construction of new schools of which he was a powerful factor.   He felt with the demise of this lucrative industry, education would suffer, thus he rented offices in the Peoples Bank building, hired stenographers, and mailed so many tons of propaganda an additional clerk was required at the post office.

As battle lines were drawn, talented speakers roamed the area.  Spellbinders all, the “drys”  appeared to rally the more powerful orators who organized church groups to teach women and children prohibition songs and mottoes and encourage the carrying of white flags.  The “wets” speakers kept emphasizing the dire consequences of an economic recession.  The Saturday before election fully 10,000 people gathered in Salisbury to hear the addresses.

Carrie Nation on Temperance and Prohibition in Salisbury

Carry Nation to visit Salisbury.

Election Day concluded the most vigorous, intense and exciting campaign in North Carolina history.  Finally after years of wrangling and increasing agitation a decision was to be reached.  Surprisingly, results were not even close.   The “dry” forces received an overwhelming majority statewide.  Even more astounding was the canvas of Salisbury/Rowan.  Although the city approved prohibition by only 100 votes, the county voted by a huge majority to end alcohol consumption and liquor interests took a real beating on their own grounds.  Another era had ended.  Rowan survived.

Read part 1 of this article here.

From an article originally published in The Heritage of Rowan County, North Carolina by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County.1

  1. Kathy Sanford Petrucelli, editor, The Heritage of Rowan County, North Carolina (Salisbury, N.C.: Genealogical Society of Rowan County, 1991.)