Monday, September 23, 2013

Mapping Historical Votes: Prohibition Passes The House.


In a previous post, I mapped when women's suffrage failed in the U.S. House in 1915.  For this post, I thought I'd map the (House) passage of the Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition. 

Here's a link to the vote on Govtrack.  The prohibition amendment was sent to the states by a vote of 282 to 128--a landslide in absolute terms, but relatively close given the margin required to pass a Constitutional amendment.

The 65th House of Representatives was closely divided between Republicans and Democrats.  208 Democrats, 201 Republicans (one "independent"), 3 Progressives, 1 Socialist, and 1 Prohibitionist voted on the Eighteenth Amendment.

Remarkably enough, the major parties split in nearly identical ratios on this issue, with 140 Democrats and 138 Republicans supporting Prohibition, and 64 Democrats and 62 Republicans in opposition. Even the 3 Progressives followed the pattern and split 2-1.

The Map:

Here's the map.  Once again, I used the historical Congressional shapefiles (by Jeffrey B. Lewis, Brandon Devine, Lincoln Pritcher, and Kenneth Martis), along with Govtrack. 

I colored by party as you'd expect (red is Republican, blue is Democratic), with yellow for Progressives.  The darkest color means a vote of "aye", the second-darkest color means a vote of "nay", and the third-darkest color means a vote was recorded as missing or wasn't recorded at all, or there was a vacancy in a district that didn't change parties.

I also used green for the sole Prohibitionist, outer Los Angeles County's Charles Randall, and purple or something for the sole Socialist, Meyer London, who represented an astonishingly tiny slice of the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  London voted "Nay", and you can probably guess how the Prohibitionist voted on Prohibition.

One immediately useful comparison is this map from an Anti-Saloon League book showing which parts of the country had already gone "dry" by March of 1917, before the vote on the Eighteenth Amendment:

Let's take a closer look at a few regions.

The Cities:

Again following Martis' maps, I've added insets for urban areas.  This is particularly useful here, because we can easily see the extent to which Prohibition was a "city-country" vote.

Of the Representatives of the very largest cities, only a very few backed Prohibition:

-The sole New York City Congressman to support Prohibition was Brooklyn Republican Frederick Rowe, whose district included Borough Park.  Go figure.  NY-14 has no vote listed, but it was represented by a notoriously anti-Prohibition Republican: Fiorello La Guardia, who was presumably over in Italy on his WWI missions.

-The Anti-Saloon league listed IL-10 Republican George E. Foss as a resident of Chicago, and he voted for Prohibition.  A 1912 article in Collier's Magazine describes the district as "Lake County and four precincts of the city of Chicago", but Lake County wasn't very big in 1917.

-The four central Philadelphia districts opposed Prohibition, but two peripheral Philadelphia Representatives, Peter Costello and George Darrow, supported the amendment.

-Pittsburgh-area Progressive Melville Kelly supported Prohibition as well, although I'm not sure how much of Pittsburgh proper he represented.  The Anti-Saloon League has him as a resident of Braddock, Pennsylvania.

-Although Los Angeles would soon be named one of the 10 largest cities in the country by the Census, its delegation (downtown Republican Henry Osborne and the aforementioned Prohibitionist Randall) unanimously backed the Eighteenth.

-Minneapolis Congressman, and future Senator, Ernest Lundeen supported Prohibition, even though Minneapolis' Hennepin County had remained "wet" under the local option (although the Anti-Saloon League claimed fraud).

Past that, Prohibition supporters are a bit easier to find: Indianapolis, Rochester, Denver, Columbus, and Oakland districts supported Prohibition, although Jersey City, Portland, Toledo, Providence, Louisville, and St. Paul districts opposed it.  (For some reason none of the Boston Representatives have a vote listed, nor does Seattle's WA-01.  I'm not sure which Rhode Island districts included which parts of Providence proper.)

The South:

Will Rogers famously said "The South will vote dry, at least as many as can stagger to the polls".  Or at least I've seen versions of that quote attributed to him.  Much of the South had already enacted statewide Prohibition, as the above map shows.  But I was more intrigued by how many Southerners voted against the Eighteenth Amendment, although the region was still strongly in favor of Prohibition overall.

Many of the "wet" Southern districts were on the Gulf Coast, including all of coastal Louisiana, most of coastal Texas, and a bit of Alabama.  Southern Louisiana had remained "wet" under the local option.  (One notable Texan who voted against Prohibition was future Vice-President John Nance Garner, who was apparently pretty open in his defiance of the law.)

It's particularly interesting how many Alabama Representatives voted against Prohibition, since the state had already voted "dry".  In fact, 5 of Alabama's 10 Representatives voted against the Amendment, from the coast to Birmingham.

Oddly, the Encyclopedia of Albama describes one of these "No" votes, Birmingham's George Huddleston, as a "champion of...Prohibition".  But Huddleston himself said "I believe in Prohibition, but I can not vote to force it on communities remote from my own, of which I have no specific knowledge and in which I have no particular interest".  J. Thomas Heflin bragged that his district was already "dry as a covered bridge" (in fact, earlier than the rest of the state) and that this was precisely why he opposed the federal amendment.  On the day of the vote, TX-14 Democrat James Slayden proclaimed Prohibition "the overturning and revolutionizing of the Federal Union and the destruction of the States".

Of course, it's hard to separate genuine libertarian inclinations with the darker reasons some Southerners might have feared a bill increasing the power of the Federal government.

North Carolina Democrat Edward Pou probably made the implicit fears of some of his colleagues explicit when he warned that if a Prohibition amendment could pass, then so might an amendment "to prescribe the qualification of voters in all the...states of the union".

Aside from Pou, South Carolina's Frederick Dominick and North Carolina's John Small also opposed the Eighteenth.  So did three Kentuckians: Arthur Rouse, James Cantrill, and Joseph Sherley.  I imagine alcohol was a larger part of the culture and economy of Kentucky than in other Southern and border states (after seeing the map, a friend pointed out that one of their districts included Bourbon County).  Their districts were also relatively urbanized: Sherley represented Louisville, Cantrill's district included Lexington, and Rouse's district was adjacent to Cincinnati and its significant German-American population (see below).

If I remember V.O. Key's "Southern Politics" correctly, the divide in Southern states over "moral issues" was often between their more urban, coastal, and commercial areas (which tended to support laxer policies and often had larger African-American percentages) and their whiter, more rural areas (which tended to support more restrictive policies).

The divisions in Alabama and Louisiana might fit that pattern here, although they only cover some of Alabama's "black belt".  Interestingly, the specific example that I remember from Key is Mississippi, whose House delegation was unanimously "dry".

German-American Regions:

I've read historians who point out connections between the Prohibition movement and nativism--alcohol being a larger part of the cultures and even religious ceremonies of Irish, Italian, and  German immigrants than of the (official) culture of "old stock" Protestants and so forth.  And of course, urban "machines" surely liked their taverns and saloons, although I'm sure many of them learned to love Prohibition even more.

Here is Wikipedia on where German-Americans were concentrated.  Compare with the vote map:

The cities of Milwaukee, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, and Baltimore were favored destinations of German immigrants. Also, the Northern Kentucky area was a favored destination. By 1900, the populations of the cities of Cleveland, Milwaukee, Hoboken, and Cincinnati were all more than 40% German American. Dubuque and Davenport, Iowa had even larger proportions, as did Omaha, Nebraska, where the proportion of German Americans was 57% in 1910. In many other Northern cities, such as Fort Wayne, Indiana, German Americans were at least 30% of the population.[24][36] Many concentrations acquired distinctive names suggesting their heritage, such as the "Over-the-Rhine" district in Cincinnati and "German Village" in Columbus, Ohio.[37]
A favorite destination was Milwaukee, known as "the German Athens". Radical Germans trained in politics in the old country dominated the city's Socialists. Skilled workers dominated many crafts, while entrepreneurs created the brewing industry; the most famous brands included Pabst, Schlitz, Miller, and Blatz.[38]
Whereas half of German immigrants settled in cities, the other half established farms in the Midwest. From Ohio to the Plains states, a heavy presence persists in rural areas into the 21st century.[19][39] Few Germans settled in the Deep South, apart from some in New Orleans.[40]

To back that up, here is a Stanford visualization of German-language newspapers in 1917:

And here is a lovely map of the German-American population of about 1872 from that Wikipedia page:

There isn't a perfect correspondence, but there's enough to be interesting.  Along with some of the big cities we've already discussed, the eastern border of Wisconsin (up from Milwaukee), the Western border of Ohio (up from Cincinnati), the St. Louis area, Northern Kentucky, Erie, Pennsylvania--all seem to have had high percentages of German-Americans, and all had Representatives voting against Prohibition.  (The votes in Rhode Island's three districts seem to match pretty well with the 1872 map.)

The sole Iowa vote against Prohibition came from Harry Hull, whose district included Davenport's Scott county, and who succeeded another anti-Prohibition Congressman, the former Davenport Mayor and "archetypal German-American politician" Henry Vollmer.

However, there are exceptions: Omaha was heavily German-American, and the Representative of the Omaha district, Charles Lobeck, was himself German-American.  Lobeck voted for the Eighteenth anyway.  The entire Indiana delegation voted for Prohibition as well.

The West: 

Representatives from the West voted heavily "dry", and much of the West was dry before the vote on the Eighteenth.  California wasn't dry, but did have this depressing law:

Only a few Western Representatives opposed the Eighteenth amendment, including three urbanites (Portland's Clifton McArthur and the San Francisco Republicans Julius Kahn and John Nolan).

California Democrat Clarence Lea had a sound parochial reason for his vote against total Prohibition: He represented California's wine country.  In fact, citing "conditions that affect my district", he proposed an amendment on the day of the vote "exempting light wines and beers containing not more than 3 per cent. of alcohol".

The other Westerners opposing Prohibition were the Central Valley Democrat, Denver Church, and Nevada's Edwin Roberts.  (Nevada remained mostly "wet" before the vote.)  Roberts was eventually elected the Mayor of Reno, where he remained defiantly anti-Prohibition, once claiming in a speech "that the only way to deal with bootlegging was to 'place a barrel of whiskey with a dipper in it on every corner.'"

One notable Westerner voting for the Eighteenth was Montana At-Large Republican Jeannette Rankin.  (Montana also had an At-Large Democrat voting "dry", John Evans, but I decided to map Rankin for her historical importance.)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

County-Level Poverty Rates in the 1959 United States

I'm not the biggest fan of county-level maps, but I happened to find these Census spreadsheets showing 1959 poverty rates by county (from the 1960 Census).  I used these amazing historical county shapefiles from the Newberry Library's Atlas of Historical County Boundaries.  Here's the poverty thresholds they're using (a pretty complicated topic), and here's the map:

(For some reason, the spreadsheet has two different entries for tiny Weston County, Wyoming.  I just picked the one with the larger population; the other entry would give it a poverty rate of 1.88% out of a population of less than 400.)

This is more about map-making than demographics, but the South practically requires a different color scale than the rest of the country.  The darkest two colors I used correspond to poverty rates of at least 37%.  The following states have a majority of their counties in that category: Virginia, Texas, Florida, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi.  That is, nearly every state that could reasonably be called "Southern" (except Oklahoma and Missouri).

Of course, there's a bias here, as the South also has lots and lots of counties.  Of those states, Florida had the lowest statewide poverty rate (28.36%), then comes Oklahoma (29.87%), New Mexico (29.88%), South Dakota (30.1%), and then the rest of the South, with Mississippi's poverty rate the highest, a whopping 54.51%.

Adding to this bias: Many of the most populous (that is, urban) counties in the South had relatively low poverty rates.  Looking at the map, you'll see that the counties of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Miami, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Jacksonville, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jackson, Little Rock, Atlanta, and the Atlanta suburbs all had among the lowest poverty rates in their states.  (Although West Texas had pretty low poverty as well.)  Same with the counties of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, and with the (arguably less "Southern") Virginia suburbs of D.C.

Probably not coincidentally, many of these relatively low-poverty urban counties were among the first areas of Republican strength in the South.  Nixon, for example, carried a few in the 1960 election, and some also elected Republicans to the 1961-1963 House: there was William C. Cramer in the Pinellas/Hillsborough area, Joel Broyhill in what we now call NoVa, Bruce Alger in Dallas County, Page Belcher, whose district included Tulsa County, Charles Jonas, whose district included Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (Charlotte), and, stretching the definition of the "South", Thomas Curtis, in part of St. Louis County.  (The other Southern Republicans represented districts closer to Appalachia, traditionally less Democratic, such as Richard Poff in Virginia, Eugene Siler in Southeast Kentucky, and the Reeces and Howard Baker, Sr. in Eastern Tennessee.  There was also Durwad Hall, in Southwest Missouri)  Democrats had close elections in a few Southern districts that didn't fit this pattern, though.

I don't know whether the cities themselves were lower-poverty, or whether the inner suburbs in those counties outweighed urban poverty.  Perhaps both.  Richmond City had a relatively high poverty rate of 28.91% (though this was still a bit lower than Virginia's statewide poverty rate of 30.63%), while its inner suburban counties, Henrico and Chesterfield, had far lower poverty rates, 8.04% and 12.66% respectively.

Either way, this was a national pattern.  Many of the poorest counties outside of the South were in rural parts of Minnesota, Nebraska, Michigan, and the Dakotas.  The poorest counties in California (other than tiny Alpine, and Imperial) were in the Central Valley.  The poorest county in Michigan was Lake County, subject of a study of rural poverty a few years later.  (The study pointed out that, at the time, Lake County had the second-highest African-American percentage in the state, apparently because of "land promoters...spreading [a] false rumor" about a Ford plant.  It also alludes to Lake County having been home to the segregation-era African-American resort at Idlewild.)

Of the 100 largest counties in the country, only 18 had poverty rates above the national rate of 22.1%.  Most of these were Southern counties whose poverty rates were probably still lower than their regions'.  Here are the 18, with counties outside the South in bold:

1. Bexar County, Texas (34.8%).
2. Shelby County, Tennessee (33.03%).
3. Mobile County, Alabama (32.02%).
4. Orleans Parish, Louisiana (31.29%).
5. Jefferson County, Alabama (30.87%).
6. Fulton County, Georgia (29.17%).
7. Hillsborough County, Florida (27.97%).
8. Duval County, Florida (26.28%).
9. Davidson County, Tennessee (25.93%).
10. St. Louis City, Missouri (24.62%).
11. Pinellas County, Florida (24.54%).
12. Broward County, Florida (24.07%).
13. New York County, New York (24.06%).
14. Fresno County, California (23.93%).
15. Luzerne County, Pennsylvania (23.25%).
16. Baltimore City, Maryland (23.19%).
17. Dade County, Florida (22.29%).
18. District of Columbia (22.22%).

The aggregate poverty rate in the 100 largest counties was only 14.8% (out of a population, at least the population where poverty could be determined, of about 78,000,000, or about 44.7% of the total).

One exception probably stands out for modern readers: New York County, a.k.a. Manhattan.

Manhattan had the highest poverty rate in the Five Boroughs, about five points higher than the runner-up, Kings County, a.k.a. Brooklyn (17.19%).  Bronx County had a similar poverty rate (16.6%), and Richmond (Staten Island) and Queens counties both had poverty rates below 10% (9.24% and 8.05%, respectively).   Probably a large fraction of Manhattan poverty was concentrated in Harlem.

The list of lowest-poverty counties probably won't surprise any modern readers, except perhaps by how little has changed.  The lowest-poverty counties of 1959 are mostly in still-affluent areas of the country, like the suburbs of New York in Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey; the suburbs of D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area, Greater Boston, and even the (briefly notorious) suburbs of Milwaukee.

Here is a list of the 25 lowest-poverty counties of 1959:

1. Yellowstone National Park, Montana (0%).
2. Los Alamos County. New Mexico (2.16%).
3. Nassau County, New York (5.29%).
4. Falls Church City, Virginia (5.34%).
5. Bergen County, New Jersey (5.38%).
6. Du Page County, Illinois (5.48%).
7. Mineral County, Montana (6.28%).
8. Montgomery County, Maryland (6.29%).
9. Morris County, New Jersey (6.58%).
10. Arlington County, Virginia (6.68%).
11. Johnson County, Kansas (6.7%).
12. Anoka County, Minnesota (6.79%).
13. Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (6.86%).
14. St. Louis County, Missouri (6.88%).
15. Hinsdale County, Colorado (6.94%).
16. Fairfax County, Virginia (7%).
17. San Mateo County, California (7.02%).
18. Lake County, Ohio (7.21%).
19. Norfolk County, Massachusetts (7.28%).
20. Baltimore County, Maryland (7.29%).
21. Somerset County, New Jersey (7.36%).
22. Union County, New Jersey (7.53%).
23. Middlesex County, Massachusetts (7.68%).
24. Ozaukee County, Wisconsin (7.8%).
25. Waukesha County, Wisconsin (7.9%).

How does this compare to today?  As I'm reading now, the definition of the poverty rate has changed over time, especially considered in context of changes in anti-poverty programs:

"We used to measure those who were poor after we’d helped them. Now, by and large, we’re measuring who would be poor if we didn’t help them. These just aren’t the same thing and so the numbers are not directly comparable."

As another friend pointed out, this might effect some areas more than others.  As that article says, you can't really make direct comparisons, but I think relative comparisons (these two places used to have similar poverty rates under the 1960 definition, what are their poverty rates now?) remain somewhat interesting.

Because I'm not exactly sure how the definition of the poverty rate has changed over the past half-century, rather than include a map of current poverty rates by county, I'll include this scatterplot of past and present (or 2007-2011) poverty rates for counties with the same FIPS code as in 1960 (plus Miami-Dade).

I don't know if these all have the exact same boundaries, but since Miami-Dade changed its FIPS code when all they did was change the county's name, they should.  A few counties have changed their boundaries since the 1960 numbers (know where Ormsby County is)?

Hm, that's a lot.  Let's limit ourselves to just counties large enough to have 1-year estimates.

Still pretty hard to read--how about the 350 largest of those?

What stands out?  Some counties weren't especially high-poverty in 1960, but are especially high-poverty now: Wayne and Ingham Counties, Michigan; The Bronx and Brooklyn in New York; Clayton County, Georgia; Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Lucas and Lane Counties, Ohio; Champaign County, Illinois; Butte County, California, etc.

(To paraphrase my friend jncca, the correlation with changing racial demographics must be considerable.)

On the other hand, several counties are especially low-poverty now, but weren't in 1959: Loudon County, Virginia; Williamson, Collin, Fort Bend, and Denton Counties, Texas; Cherokee County, Georgia; Union County, North Carolina; Frederick County, Maryland; Seminole, Clay and Sarasota Counties, Florida; Rutherford County, Tennnessee, etc; Shelby County, Alabama; Forsyth County, Georgia, etc.

Three Texas counties on the Mexico border, Hidalgo, Cameron, and Webb, were and remain the poorest of this group of large counties.

If you have any sense of how any of this has more to do with the definition of the poverty rate than with poverty itself, let me know.