Why Did Utah Vote Against Prohibition?

Politically, Utah as a whole is more or less controlled by Mormon culture. Salt Lake City itself is not, but the rest of the state outvotes the more liberal-leaning SLC. When the 18th Amendment became law, outlawing the sale of alcohol in the United States, you could easily argue that Utah was much more under Mormon control. And yet when the 18th Amendment was repealed a short while later, it was ironically Utah, the Mormon state, that provided the 36th vote which overturned Prohibition. This, despite public statements by LDS Church leaders pleading with residents to keep Prohibition in place (so much for the idea that Mormons always blindly follow their leaders).

But why did Utahns vote to repeal Prohibition? Sure, it was difficult to enforce in any effective way, and there were probably some imbibing Mormons, but certainly the majority of the state population was against the consumption of alcohol. Was it because it wasn’t working? Was it the cost of enforcement? Was it some sort of libertarian leaning, or the fear that restricting the freedoms of others might come back to bite Mormons someday? If the latter, could we equally ironically see Mormons come out in favor of repealing current drug laws and ending the “War on Drugs”?

I don’t have any answers, but I’m looking for them. If you have a clue, enlighten us all.


  1. Mormons are for free-agency, and believe the war in heaven was over this very issue. Governments espousing free-agency should not take away the freedom to choose, unless it directly harms another. Some argue that drugs take away rights. However this logic, applied to other situations, would conclude that just about everyone is harming another in some way.

    • I actually do wish Mormons were for the principle of free agency, but that has not been my experience. Most LDS people I know would gladly impose their beliefs on others if they could. I am a Libertarian Mormon and I am very alone. I couldn’t find a like minded brother if my life depended on it. I recently argued with a fellow member about the war on drugs. I could not get anywhere with him. In fact he was for drugs being illegal even if legalizing it would stop crime, and not increase consumption and even if the first presidency approved it! Because he said there needs to be consequences. Unfortunately this is the way most Mormons think in my experience. They will impose their morality on others they can get away with it

  2. Before Utah officially enacted prohibition statewide, in 1917, small towns had already adopted anti-alcohol laws. St. George passed an ordinance prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol. Although, as St. George and other small cities, realized that completely preventing people’s drinking habits was not an easy task. Less than just two months into the law, a group of young men snuck a five gallon keg of wine and crept out west of the city to indulge in it. After enjoying a large amount of it, one young man, being drunk, shot one of his buddies for no apparent reason. News of this traveled fast, and soon they were in court, three of them fined and the other two acquitted from lack of evidence. Illegal sell of alcohol products was also a huge problem throughout prohibition and before. Many illegal alcohol sellers were fined and put in jail, and that was just a taste of what was to come for in because of the ratification of the law of prohibition in 1919, which instituted prohibition throughout the whole country. Now, instead of having to deal with just a few minor cities, Utah had to attend to the entire state, and prevent all manufacturing and selling of alcohol. In 1923, a Utah attorney declared that drinking in some big cities in Utah was just as bad as it was before prohibition. Overall from 1925-1932, Utah uncovered over 400 distilleries, 25,000 gallons of spirits, 8,000 gallons of liquors, 13,000 gallons of wine, and 332,000 gallons of mash. Local authorities did their best to keep Utah dry, but to no avail. Problems of enforcement and the unpopularity of prohibition led to action for its repeal. Franklin Roosevelt kept his pledge, and the nation soon began voting on the problem. Utahns voted on November 7, 1933, for repeal of national prohibition and in the same election also repealed the state's liquor law. Utah was the thirty-sixth state to vote for repeal and thus, delivered prohibition its death blow.

    The problems led to Utah's repeal. Mormons had no say in it. This was Congressional.

  3. You know there are non-mormons in Utah, right? Are you stupid?

  4. Mormons believe in

    1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

    2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

    3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

    4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

    5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

    6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

    7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

    8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

    9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

    10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

    11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

    12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

    13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

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