"This Day in History"
July 1, 1914
In 1794, Congress established the daily ration of alcohol for the United States Navy to be "one half-pint distilled spirits," "or in lieu thereof, one quart of beer."
Fast forward 120 years to July 1, 1914, and all of that changed. No longer would alcohol be allowed on United States Navy vessels because of Josephus Daniels and General Order 99.
"On July 1, 1914, Article 827, Naval Instructions, will be annulled and in its stead the following will be substituted: 'The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order.'" --Josephus Daniels, General Order 99
Josephus Daniels was born in Washington, North Carolina, May 18, 1862. At the age of 18, Daniels bought out a local newspaper, Advance, in Wilson, North Carolina. "Daniels used his position at the helm of the Advance to address political issues ranging from trade to temperance," said North Carolina Encyclopedia online. Daniels promoted Woodrow Wilson for the 1912 presidency. Wilson was victorious and appointed Daniels as Secretary of the Navy in return for his services.
Josephus Daniels, was Secretary of the Navy from 1913-1927. Daniels wasted no time enforcing what he felt strongly about. On June 1, 1914, Daniels issued General Order 99 and the order took effect on July 1, 1914. Legend has it that the term "Cup of Joe" began because coffee became the strongest drink a sailor could get issued on a United States Naval vessel.
The United States established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the country with the 18th Amendment in 1920. This amendment was repealed in 1933 with the 21st Amendment to the Constitution. Interestingly enough General Order 99 has never been reversed. An order set in motion 100 years ago is still in effect today. A full list of the rules about alcohol in the United States is available here.
Visitors of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum often ask about alcohol consumption aboard the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394). We can officially say that the United States Navy has been "bone dry" since 1914.
Author: Ashley Hopper
Completed as a student internship through the University of Central Arkansas in the History Department.