Wayne Wheeler

I've been watching Ken Burns's documentary about Prohibition on PBS the past few days. The era is fascinating mostly because prohibition is arguably the most ill-advised law passed in American history. The personalities are wonderful, and so are the faces.

Wheeler was the head of the anti-saloon league, the political organization with some of the most clout in the temperance movement, and probably the most responsibility for the law's passage. Wheeler's life, though, was ridiculously tragic. His fall from grace was before the amendment was repealed, but after it was clear that the law was failing spectacularly. His death, though, was shortly after he had retired to Michigan (ostensibly to regain his strength) where his wife had caught fire from the oven and his father in law had died from a heart attack trying to put out said fire. You can't make this stuff up.

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