- Category: Lit Bits
- Created: Monday, 27 August 2012 16:25
- Written by Charles Doane
I GOT INTO THE SUBJECT of Prohibition a couple of years ago on reading Daniel Okrent's excellent popular history, Last Call. I'd always understood, of course, that Prohibition was the product of the unique power of highly motivated single-issue minorities in American politics. But prior to reading Okrent's book I'd never grasped what a perfect storm of political trends (the suffrage movement, allowing women to vote, plus the advent of income taxes, to replace revenue from liquor taxes) was required to make it possible for temperance fanatics to highjack the U.S. Constitution. What I also never realized was that there was ever such a thing as Rum Row, a floating city of oddball sailing and motor vessels that lay perpetually anchored in international waters just a few miles off the U.S. coast peddling booze to all comers day and night.
Since then I've also discovered Flat Hammock Press, a small independent publisher based in Mystic, Connecticut, that has reissued a series of non-fiction books first published during Prohibition that all tell the story of Rum Row from the smuggler's perspective. The most important of these is The Real McCoy, by Frederic F. Van de Water, which recounts the career of a rather personable and flamboyant Rum Row pioneer, William McCoy, from a first-person autobiographical point-of-view.Write comment (3 Comments)