Home / Be The Change / Flex Your rights / Scrubbed From Textbooks — The US Government’s National Experiment in Extermination

Scrubbed From Textbooks — The US Government’s National Experiment in Extermination

In desperation to make effective the floundering Prohibition on alcohol, the U.S. government — unable to convince the public consumption of booze constituted a moral transgression — intentionally poisoned the supply in a last-ditch attempt to enforce State-mandated sobriety.

This “chemist’s war of Prohibition” became, as outspoken opponent and New York City chief medical examiner in the 1920s, Charles Norris, hauntingly described, “our national experiment in extermination.”

Rather than keep people away from bathtub gin and the constant flow of liquor in hidden speakeasies — the State-sanctioned toxic experiment killed thousands of people who simply wanted to imbibe.

Alcohol poisoning in the time of Prohibition had become commonplace — anyone with a grasp on forced taboos will tell you government control of vice furiously fuels black markets — as home distillers, including those keen to profit unethically, concocted batches of booze made with questionable ingredients.

Hospitals accustomed to treating illnesses caused by bad batches of homemade alcohol — bootleg supplies not infrequently were tainted with metals and other contaminants — were not prepared for a spate of deaths in New York City over the Christmas holidays in 1926. This wasn’t, they realized, a typical case of toxic back-alley booze — in a mere two days, 23 people lost their lives.

People began dropping like flies, in fact, and a list of similar incidents quickly lengthened.

Thirty-three people perished in just three days in Manhattan in 1928 from tainted hooch believed to be wood alcohol — and by that time, the public felt federal intervention might be necessary. However, as TIME reported shortly afterward,

“Everyone expected the intervention and assistance of Federal forces, lately so loudly active in Manhattan. But no one expected what actually happened. The Federals announced that the government could do absolutely nothing. The statement of the Federal Grand Jury read as follows: ‘Inasmuch as wood alcohol is not a beverage, but a recognized poison (analogous to prussic acid or iodine) and its use and sale are not regulated by any of the Federal laws, we respectfully report that in those particular instances the subject matter is for the consideration of the State authorities rather than the Federal authorities. The State laws regulate the sale of poisons and provide for punishment for their improper use and sale.’”

By the time of the repeal of Prohibition in the December 5, 1933, ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, estimates surmise no less than 10,000 had perished as a direct result of the government’s horrendously ill-fated poisoning program. As Slate’s Deborah Blum reported,

“Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.”

READ MORE:  Proposed Bill Forces Cops to Spy on Musicians and Live Shows -- This is Art in a Police State

In order to poison the supply, the government had to turn to the base ingredient commonly used by bootleg manufacturers, as TIME Magazine explained,

“For years, that industrial alcohol had been ‘denatured’ by adding toxic or unappetizing chemicals to it — the idea was originally so that people couldn’t escape beverage taxes by drinking commercial-use alcohol instead — but it was still possible to re-purify the liquid so that it could be consumed.

“So, as TIME reported in the Jan. 10, 1927, issue, a solution emerged from the anti-drinking forces in the government: that year, a new formula for denaturing industrial-grade alcohol was introduced, doubling how poisonous the product became. The new formula included ‘4 parts methanol (wood alcohol), 2.25 parts pyridine bases, 0.5 parts benzene to 100 parts ethyl alcohol’ and, as TIME noted, ‘Three ordinary drinks of this may cause blindness.’ (In case you didn’t guess, ‘blind drink’ isn’t just a figure of speech.)”

Prohibition had widespread support, and although not everyone agreed with the government’s new method of coercion meant to quash the nation’s obvious love affair with alcohol — TIME noted New Jersey Senator Edward I. Edwards called it “legalized murder” — those who did pontificated on the supposed amorality of drinking as justification for poisoning deaths.

“The Government is under no obligation to furnish the people with alcohol that is drinkable when the Constitution prohibits it,” asserted poisoning and Prohibition advocate, Wayne B. Wheeler. “The person who drinks this industrial alcohol is a deliberate suicide … To root out a bad habit costs many lives and long years of effort. …”

The Chicago Tribune strikingly editorialized in 1927, as cited by Slate,

“Normally, no American government would engage in such business. … It is only in the curious fanaticism of Prohibition that any means, however barbarous, are considered justified.”

Myriad ruinous government programs, in particular prohibitions on alcohol and cannabis, have been implemented under the premise of protecting the people from some misbegotten ill — but, in practice, these efforts too often play out more disastrously than if the State had never intervened in the first place.

Ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919 meant a ban on the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcoholic beverages — and the subsequent passage of the Volstead Act provided the rules for enforcement of Prohibition when it went into effect in 1920.

Anti-alcohol organizations constantly sermonized on the evils of drinking, and though the notion seems almost quaint in 2017, the post-war atmosphere in the U.S. welcomed any movement to prevent further degradation of morals — or, more accurately, the morals of a specific group of people whose grandstanding centered around alcohol.

Unsurprisingly, vocal support for the platform overrepresented the reality — the business of banned booze immediately and decisively boomed. Blum wrote,

“Alcoholism rates soared during the 1920s; insurance companies charted the increase at more than 300 more percent. Speakeasies promptly opened for business. By the decade’s end, some 30,000 existed in New York City alone. Street gangs grew into bootlegging empires built on smuggling, stealing, and manufacturing illegal alcohol. The country’s defiant response to the new laws shocked those who sincerely (and naively) believed that the amendment would usher in a new era of upright behavior.”

None of that shock nor the high-and-mighty stance from which the temperance movement preached moral uprightness ever targeted the government for recklessly condemning random alcohol drinkers to death.

When the State takes the reins of any flippantly righteous high horse, it’s a veritable guarantee the program is doomed to failure — and Prohibition was no exception.

Indiscriminately killing more than 10,000 people by deliberate poisoning, however, belies the less candid goal the government would never admit: control at any cost.

  • billdeserthills

    Tough to put my finger on the real dumb-ass in this instance

  • Gaylen Anderson

    Reminds me of the old paraquat days.

    • Guy

      That ! And when they sprayed over half of Vietnam with Agent Orange in order to kill off the forest, so the Cong couldn’t hide in em ! Remember the C-10’s with the 1000 gal tanks and boom spray rigs, hanging off the wings ? Lined up wing tip to wing tip ! They could kill a hundred acres of forest in a single pass ! Damn Government destroyed the country, in the name of morality. Same thing we are now doing in the mid-east !

      • I have earned 104000 bucks previous year by doing an on-line job at my house and I manage to accomplish that by w­orking part-time f­­o­­r few hrs daily. I used a business model I found online and I am so excited that i was able to make so much money. It’s so user friendly and I’m so happy that i discovered this. Here is what i do… http://libr.ae/2gaf

      • Mark Skinner

        During the 20th century there was never any time that America was not destroying other people’s countries. It seems that the USA was, and is still, involved in a war on someone’s country. They even have “wars” on drugs, wars on communism, they must have a war.

        • Guy

          Our number one economy is based on defence and petro dollars spending ! When there is a war on somewhere in the World, they make money, job’s are to be had and things are perking along just *Great* ! When not, it’s not so great is it !

          That’s why it has become so lousie in CA. We stopped producing and now just spend in order to support the Nanny State Of Welfare. Large population = Tax dollars, and thouse are used to keep em on the dole and build a Democrat Voting Block !

      • Eric Bolt

        And gave the Vietnam Veterans, Marinol Like to today notice the mention of Hemp-? they were denied like all others up to today-!

  • JayGoldenBeach

    One might wonder if the drug police are helping somehow to add fentanyl to heroin?

    • Marcia Galloway

      Of course they are. Helps keep the war on drugs alive and illegal to fatten the the fat cat CEO’s that run us over. Prison for profit is doing a booming business for some of the same “FatCats”

  • joe foley

    proving once more that the USA isnt quite civilized.. It is still doing massive evils all over the planet and it doesnt matter who is in power .. I think it starts with your universities all those very strange war game sports that weird ritualized display of brutality and sex ..American Football . More people play soccer but f course that doesnt suit the goblins and gnomes running the institutions.. They are all closet thugs and what do thugs want to do?? Beat and humiliate others Enjoy the “Trump Show” with real American values..ha ha

  • Daryl K. Sauerwald

    I think it should be noted home much religion mixing with state played in all this, moral concerns where cornerstone to prohibition.

    • junktex

      WAnd hat religion is Statism,the most dangerous religion of all.

  • alexandra

    Its all about dollars than cents aka “human sense”. The same game gets played over and over and over again until we dumb ass americans figure it out. They would rather poison/kill us in order to prove a point for monetary gain. The CIA is a country unto itself that blackmail and promote the most despicable into their rankings of evil for the NWO. They are getting so obvious.. So alike the Vatican that promotes and protects the majority of pedophiles to Cardinal in order to covet their own criminal actions!

  • Bob Btme

    Bodies are dropping today from unexpected doses of Mexican fentanyl, the bathtub gin of opiate Prohibition. The lethal sanctimony of the One Church we all belong to now – the government. oh, you’re not religous? Don’t worry, everybody’s welcome at this church – permanently welcome.

    There are zero heroin OD’s when addicts are provided with a source for a pure standardized daily dose of heroin. Today the government is doing the exact same thing as 90 years ago when they poisoned alcohol.

    It’s definitely about control. The temperance “debate” was going for all of American history before 1920. Eventually the prohibs were told to shut up and sit down…until 1920, when the labor movement was kicking butt. what a coincidence! Suddenly the harpies were on stage front and center.

  • Mark Skinner

    It’s pretty much like the manufacture of “ice” in kitchens by idiots today. If they legalised the less harmful drugs like cannabis, heroin even….then maybe we would not have people dying from taking some backyard concoction. It is not the drug we need to assess…..it is the behaviour the particular drug causes and the possible damage to community that matters. Heroin just makes people mellow and laid back (I say this from personal experience) same with cannabis, or even LSD. People under the influence of these drugs are not interested in creating mayhem or harming anyone; whereas people under the influence of speed , ice, or crack cocaine are apt to do anything.

  • 7.62x54r

    US government puritan psychopaths killed 10,000 Americans and no one went to jail for it.

  • Now Big Alcohol works to prohibit Marijuana legalization.

  • K. Chris C.

    The General Axiom of Government #2: “Being nothing more than a criminal syndicate, government can only produce 4 things: poverty, misery, death, and lies. All statements otherwise are lies.”

    The General Axiom of Government #3: “Being nothing but a criminal syndicate, government always accomplishes the opposite of the stated goal, as the stated goal is always a lie.”

    An American citizen, not US subject.