Meet Congress' Favorite Bootlegger: Prohibition, Hypocrisy, and "The Man in the Green Hat"

In honor of Repeal Day, which celebrates the end of America's "noble experiment" in banning alcoholic beverages, Reason TV is happy to introduce you to George Cassiday, a man whose life and work should be taught to every schoolkid - and to every member of Congress hell-bent on legislating the nation's morals.

From 1920 through 1930 - the thick of the Prohibition era - Cassiday supplied illegal liquor throughout the halls of Congress. Known as "The Man in the Green Hat," Cassiday was the Capitol's highest-profile bootlegger, with a client list that included senior members of the Republican and Democratic Parties. How instrumental was he to the D.C. power elite? He even had his own office in the House and Senate office buildings.

Cassiday gave up the liquor trade after his arrest in 1930, but gained notoriety by penning a series of front-page articles for The Washington Post about his days as Congress' top bottle man.

Though he never named names, Cassiday's stories detailed every aspect of his former business - and the depths of hypocrisy in Washington. By his own estimation, "four out of five senators and congressmen consume liquor either at their offices or their homes." Appearing days before the 1930 mid-term elections, Cassiday's revelations caused a national stir and helped sweep pro-Prohibitionist - and ostensibly tee-totaling - congressmen and senators out of power.

Today, with the rise of cocktail culture and prohibition-vogue in full swing, Cassiday's life and legacy are being re-discovered. Through books such as Garrett Peck's Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren't to New Columbia Distillery's Green Hat Gin, the remarkable story of George Cassiday - "The Man in the Green Hat" - is again being told.

Reason TV spoke with Cassiday's son, Fred, author Garrett Peck, and New Columbia Distillery's John Uselton to discuss George Cassiday and the end of Prohibition.

Shot, edited, and produced by Meredith Bragg. About 4:30 minutes.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    first? on an iphone no less!

  • Loki||

    If weed ever does get legalized at the federal level I'm betting that it will turn out there is someone, or perhaps multiple someones, who have been providing MJ to our congresscritters and executive branch apparatchiks for years.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    They act more like they have been using hallucanigenics, rather than MJ.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Weed is a mild hallucinagen.

  • Free Society||

    I won't deny that it's classified as a hallucinogen.

  • SweatingGin||

    I'd say pills. Uppers, downers, laughers, screamers.

    Normal cocktail of amphetamines and benzos, maybe some hillbilly heroin thrown in for a change.

  • Brutus||

    Weed's not illegal. It took a constitutional amendment to outlaw booze, and since no such change to the Constitution exists for MJ, it must therefore be legal as far as the federales are concerned. Right?

  • Paul.||

    That was before the new interpretation of the Commerce Clause.

  • Brandybuck||

    An amendment was needed to prohibit alcohol consumption in the states. The Federales are still coming to grips with the idea of some states actually legalizing MJ, but if they decide that's not allowed they would need a new constitutional amendment.

    Theoretically of course, in actuality the Federales do whatever the fuck they want.

  • Free Society||

    Not the case. They could have used the Commerce Clause to justify a federal law to outlaw booze, but it would have been hung up in the courts and been more easily repealed. The 18th Amendment was an effort to imprint the law in a constitutional stone.

  • ||

    Whoever it is would probably end up "committing suicide" like the D.C. Madame a few years back.

  • Sevo||

    "Burton served in Congress from 1975 until 1982, resigning after seeking treatment for drug addiction"

    Pretty sure he was caught snorting coke in his office, but Wiki doesn't mention that.
    He's a lefty asshole who's bought his way out of at least one sexual harassment case.

  • Paul.||

    "Back then, they didn't search you when you came in, they searched you when you left..."

    Which is really the perfect way to run any government institution.

  • Juice||

    Speaking of Prohibition Vogue, people are drinking more Prohibition and pre-Prohibition era cocktails. Lately, I've been partial to the Clover Club. We actually got some pomegranates and made some homemade grenadine and made some. They are quite tasty and it's really easy to get totally smashed on them (unfortunately). You just want to keep slamming them but they're mostly gin.

  • waaminn||

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    You're drunk Anonbot, go home!

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  • شات عراقنا||

    very nice

  • chenzhong||

    I've been partial to the Clover Club. We actually got some pomegranates and made some homemade grenadine and made some. They are quite tasty and it's really easy to get totally smashed on them (unfortunately). You just want to keep slamming them but they're mostly gin.

  • chenzhong||

    it must therefore be legal as far as the federales are concerned. Right?

  • دردشة العراق||

  • دردشة العراق||

  • IceTrey||

    There was no hypocrisy. It wasn't illegal to CONSUME alcohol. It was only illegal to manufacture, sell, transport or import alcohol.

  • ||

    We've been invaded by spammers!

  • Sevo||

    Maybe we pissed off that 'oil is icky' twit in the electric car thread and he passed on the addy...
    Not to worry; Mike's on the job!

  • entropy||

    The Luddites were right! We're fucked!

  • ||

    I'm not convinced that chenzhong isn't just joking. The posts are way too on topic, and the handle and in-post link are to 2 different (unrelated) places.

  • Sevo||

    So chenzhong is a person, not a bot?
    How better to beat the Turing test?

  • Death Rock and Skull||

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