History of the Word of Wisdom, 1919

-- During 1919
(Reed Smoot) Smoot complained that Heber J. Grant had publicly referred to him as "his royal nibs." The Senator vehemently declared that no man "ever saw me take a drink of liquor in a saloon or anywhere else," and offered to resign his apostleship. President Joseph F. Smith soothed Smoot's feelings, assuring him "that his personal course was understood and approved, but would not be publicly supported." President Smith advised Smoot to "be patient and understanding with his more rabid brethren."... (1)

[Prohibition] Persons could be convicted under the law for consuming, manufacturing, or selling alcohol. Newspaper reporters estimated that the law would affect four thousand persons in Salt Lake City alone who were dependent on the liquor business. As 1 August approached, liquor was sold at bargain prices and finally given away at any price. The Salt Lake Tribune estimated that hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of liquor were acquired and stored in the cellars of Salt Lake residents, while the Deseret News maintained that prohibition "will be the greatest blessing we have known since Christ." National advocates like evangelist Billy Sunday believed that prohibition would solve all of the country's social and economic problems. The movement grew, and in 1919 the Utah State Legislature joined with forty-five other states to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. (2)

-- Jan 16, 1920
The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution goes into effect, prohibiting the manufacture, production, and sale of alcohol. President Heber J. Grant, a fervent supporter of the amendment, believes it is divinely mandated because it outlaws items forbidden by the Word of Wisdom. (3)

-- Jun 22, 1921
The PROVO HERALD reports: "Dancing of a standard far worse than anything permitted in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles [was] witnessed at dance halls near Provo. . . . Some eastern people with us were shocked at the dancing permitted at the resort. . . . I have seen a great deal of intoxication at dancing resorts in the county. . . . The obnoxious dancing positions are not graceful. Jazz music must be prohibited." (4)

-- August 3, 1923
[President Heber J. Grant Diary] President Moroni Lazenby of the North Sevier Staked called and discussed sending young men on missions who were users of tobacco, believing that they would reform in the missionfield. I told him I doubted the advisability of taking chances on their corrupting the good lives of those who were observers of the Word of Wisdom; told him, however, if he would write me a letter suggesting that we call young men subject to their first reforming, that perhaps we would do this. (5)

1 - Van Wagoner, Richard and Walker, Steven C., A Book of Mormons, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies
2 - Utah History Encyclopedia: Prohibition, http://www.media.utah.edu/UHE/p/PROHIBITION.html
3 - The Woodland Institute 'On This Day Historical Database,' http://www.woodlandinstitute.com
4 - On This Day in Mormon History, http://onthisdayinmormonhistory.blogspot.com
5 - Diary of Heber J. Grant, http://amzn.to/newmormonstudies

LDS History Chronology: the Word of Wisdom

Mormon Timeline: the Word of Wisdom