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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Anti-Saloon LeagueA pamphlet distributed by the Anti-Saloon League of Charlotte. Image courtesy of DocSouth, UNC.

by Ginny Orvedahl, 2006

The North Carolina Anti-Saloon League was organized in 1902, with J. W. Bailey as chairman of its executive committee. Bailey, a native of Warrenton, was also a U.S. senator. Those involved in the temperance forces in the state had successfully eliminated the legal sale of liquor in many towns by using local option elections, a campaign led by Bailey.

Many rural communities also eliminated the sale of liquor by obtaining acts of incorporation by the General Assembly. The Democratic-controlled legislature, at the urging of the Anti-Saloon League, passed the Watts Act in 1903. This law prohibited the manufacture and sale of liquor except in incorporated towns. In 1907 the Anti-Saloon League launched a successful campaign for statewide prohibition: in May 1908 voters approved a measure that made North Carolina the first state in the nation to enact a total ban on the manufacture and sale of alcohol. In January 1919 the Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution was ratified by Congress, making Prohibition a national policy.




Hugh T. Lefler, North Carolina History Told by Contemporaries (1948).

William S. Powell, North Carolina through Four Centuries (1989).

Additional Resources:

Anti-Saloon League, DocSouth:

Image Credit:

A pamphlet distributed by the Anti-Saloon League of Charlotte. Image courtesy of DocSouth, UNC. Available from (accessed May 31, 2012).



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