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William Hamilton Anderson (1874-c1959) was the superintendent of the New York Anti-Saloon League. He worked toward the prohibition of alcohol and the closing of saloons. In 1924 a jury convicted him of skimming contributions to the league.



He was born in Carlinville, Illinois. He received his B.S. degree from Blackburn College in Carlinville in 1892 and an LL.B. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1896. In 1900, he became an attorney for the Illinois Anti-Saloon League. He married Clarice Otwell (1872-1947) on October 23, 1901 and they had the following children: Frederick O. Anderson (1904-?); and Elinor H. Anderson (1908-?).[1] Clarice was the daughter of Justinian Strange Otwell (1830-1888) and Ann Elizabeth Barrick (1837-?).[2] In 1906 he became Associate State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of New York, a position he held until 1914.

William H. Anderson wrote a letter on July 24, 1914 and it was published in the New York Times on July 29, 1914:

Liquor and the Drug Traffic.
To the Editor of the New York Times:
In view of the claim by opponents of prohibition that drug using is most prevalent and serious where the sale of liquor has been prohibited, I wish, while the matter is still fresh in the public mind, to call attention to the extent of the drug traffic in New York, where there is certainly no lack of liquor, as indicated by the immense amount of news and comment in the new York papers. The opponents of prohibition argue that if a prohibitory law is not enforced it should be repealed, yet nobody seems to be arguing for a repeal of the drug law. I desire also to call attention to the traffic in drugs in the prisons as indicating how little regard the political appointees of a corrupt liquor organization like Tammany have for any law they are supposed to enforce. It is also noteworthy that the recent National Convention of Alienists and Neurologists put alcohol first in the list of causes of insanity and derangement, and drugs lower down the scale. William H. Anderson, State Superintendent Anti-Saloon league of New York.
New York, July 24, 1914.

He then served from 1914 to 1924 as General State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of New York. He was instrumental in the passage of a City Local-Option Law, after it had been defeated regularly for twenty years. He secured an increase in the number of New York congressmen voting in favor of the Eighteenth Amendment, the National Prohibition Amendment, from three in 1914 to fourteen in 1917, this increase being important for the passage of the amendment in Congress. Anderson was influential in securing ratification of the Prohibition Amendment by the New York State Legislature in 1919 and in the passage of a New York State dry enforcement law. He received an honorary LL.D. from Illinois Wesleyan in 1919 and in 1920 he was living in Yonkers, New York.[3] On July 3, 1924 he was indicated for third degree forgery in connection with the "alteration" of Anti-Saloon League financial records. It was generally understood at that time the move was politically motivated by Tammany Hall, which had much to lose if prohibition was passed. Anderson was tried and convicted, and sentenced to two years imprisonment in Sing Sing Prison where he served nine months. The Board of Directors of the Anti-Saloon League unanimously denounced the proceeding as "a monstrous perversion of justice." The Board and their auditors had officially approved the actions of Anderson in previous years in this matter.


When prohibition was passed he wrote: "Be a good sport about it. No more falling off the water wagon. Uncle Sam will help you keep your pledge."




  • 1874 Birth
  • 1892 Graduation from Blackburn College
  • 1900 Attorney for Illinois Anti-Saloon League
  • 1901 Marriage to Clarice Otwell (1872-1947) on October 23
  • 1906 Associate State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of New York
  • 1914 Start as General State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of New York
  • 1919 Honorary LL.D. from Illinois Wesleyan
  • 1924 End as General State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League of New York
  • 1924 Indictment for forgery on July 3
  • 1924 Sing-Sing
  • 1925 Release from prison


  1. ^ 1920 US Census; Yonkers, New York with Anderson
  2. ^ New York Times; August 30, 1947, Saturday; Mrs. W. H. Anderson
  3. ^ 1920 US Census; Yonkers, New York

Further reading

  • The Reminiscences of William H. Anderson; Transcript of interviews conducted April and May 1950 by W. Link
  • New York Times; August 30, 1947, Saturday; Mrs. W. H. Anderson.
  • Time (magazine); November 16, 1925. Nowadays the country is facing the "enforcement crisis" and last week the Anti-Saloon League meeting in Chicago called its biennial convention by that name. It was a great meeting. To it came Bishop Thomas Nicholson, President of the League; Francis Scott McBride, General Superintendent; Wayne B. Wheeler, its Washington representative; William H. Anderson, former superintendent of the New York State branch ...
  • Time (magazine); July 6, 1925. Last week, William H. Anderson announced the foundation of A. P. P. P. A. (American Prohibition Protestant Patriotic Protective Alliance). What is it? It is an "organization," but it has no members and no charter—not being incorporated. It has no oath. It keeps no books. All its financial transactions are oral. All contributions to it are in the form of "outright personal gifts to William H. Anderson, its founder and general secretary, to be used in any way he sees fit." The object of this strange type of organization is to make the four P's Alliance "persecution proof and uninvestigable." ...
  • New York Times; March 26, 1924, Wednesday; Anderson in Prison, Protests Innocence; Submits Grimly to Fingerprinting, Then Is Taken to Sing Sing to Be No. 75,745. William Hamilton Anderson stepped at 2:15 o'clock yesterday afternoon into the main entrance of Sing Sing Prison at Ossining. Two minutes later, as Convict 75,745, he began a sentence of from a year to two years for forgery.
  • New York Times; April 4, 1918, Thursday; The repudiation of William Jennings Bryan as a "leader" of the prohibition movement in this country is advocated in an article published by William H. Anderson, State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League, in this week's, number of the American Issue, the official ...


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