Pauline Sabine –
Republican National Committee Member 1923
She was selected to be New York’s first woman representative on the Republican National Committee in 1923, but resigned on principle in 1929. She had worked for Herbert Hoover and helped get him elected in 1928 on the basis of his support for the repeal of Prohibition. After the Jones-Stalker Act drastically increased penalties under Prohibition, she resigned from the Republican National Committee and started the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform or WONPR in opposition to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union WCTU, which had been so influential in passing the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) which took effect in 1920. That very same year the 19th Amendment was ratified and women gained the right to vote.
By 1931 WONPR was 1.5 million members strong and Pauline became the cause celebre of woman’s emancipation and the rebuke of hypocrisy. Her platform was simple: repeal Prohibition because above all it was making our nation into what she declared was a “nation of hypocrites”.
She initially supported prohibition, as she later explained: “I felt I should approve of it because it would help my two sons… I thought a world without liquor would be a beautiful world.” Towards the 1920’s, however, Sabin realized that no one was taking Prohibition seriously. She was growing increasingly disenchanted with prohibition which she saw as a creator of corruption, hypocrisy, crime and violence. She used her aristocracy to wield influence and at the same time resonate with all american women like no one ever had.
“Mothers had supported Prohibition thinking it would eliminate the temptation to drink from their children’s lives. Instead they found that ‘children are growing up with a total lack of respect for the Constitution and for the law.’ She observed that ‘The young see the law broken at home and upon the street. Can we expect them to be lawful?’”
After the repeal amendment in December 1933, the WONPR dissolved and she joined the American Liberty League, formed by conservative Democrats in 1934. This organization was formed to oppose Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.