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Historian Dan Okrent, author of "Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition" discusses Pauline Sabin and the her role in repealing prohibition. He was interviewed by the NPG's Warren Perry, on May 5, 2013. 
"Once during prohibition," W. C. Fields stated, "I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water." For the thousands like Fields who bemoaned prohibition, proactively operated illegal stills, and drank gin from bathtubs, there were many enforcers, but individuals willing to fight against the new law were few. Pauline Morton Smith Sabin (later Davis) was one of those individuals willing to wage war against prohibition.
Prohibition, ironically, landed in America just as the nation should have been celebrating—at the end of the Great War—and left America as the nation was in the throes of a horrible depression, hardly a time to celebrate with a drink. Pauline Sabin's fight against prohibition began in the late 1920s, although it was cloaked in support of Herbert Hoover's 1928 presidential candidacy. 
Pauline Sabin's argument was very simple: alcohol and its consumption was the problem of the consumer or the would-be consumer, and not the government. In a New York Times interview with Samuel Johnson Woolf, she argued, "When prohibition was first enacted, I was in favor of it. . . . I had two sons and felt that for their benefit, at least I should approve it."
However, Sabin was not a proponent of government interference or big government—she was the president of the Women's National Republican Club— and she amended her position later, noting, "I began to see that whether my boys drank or not was my responsibility and not the government's."
Sabin's efforts toward prohibition reform were widely recognized. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, Pauline Sabin rechanneled her advocacy in many directions, among them the American Red Cross and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
—Warren Perry, National Portrait Gallery, Catalog of American Portraits


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