Ending Prohibition in Mississippi

I learned last night that, amazingly, Mississippi continued alcohol prohibition into the 1960s. Here’s a hilarious February 1966 Time article about the fight:

One bourbon drinker who does not like the setup is Governor Paul Johnson. Last week he urged Mississippians to repeal the prohibition law. The hypocrisy of their back-door drinking habits, he told the legislature, makes Mississippians the “laughingstock of the nation.” Said Johnson: “It is high time for someone to stand boldly in the front door and talk plainly, sensibly and honestly about whisky, black-market, taxes, payola, and all of the many-colored hues that make up Mississippi’s illegal aurora borealis of prohibition.” […]

Johnson even got an uninvited foretaste of how arid the desert might be. The capital’s biggest charity event of the year, the Junior League carnival ball, took place three nights after his speech. Along with other celebrators, the Governor dropped in on a Jackson country club for a nightcap only to find that sheriff’s deputies had got there first, smashed the liquor-cabinet door with a sledge hammer, and carted off all the whisky, wine and gin to the Hinds County Courthouse. “Paul, can’t you do something about this?” a lady in mink beseeched Johnson. “I made my stand, I took my chance,” the Governor responded, dryly.

I would have thought that having a governor who used campaign lines like “You know what the N.A.A.C.P. stands for: Niggers, alligators apes, coons and possums” is what made Mississippi the laughingstock of the nation. But who knows.


My colleagues at Half in Ten have an interactive map of state-by-state poverty data and Mississippi seems to be almost 2 percentage points higher than #2 Arizona.