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A burned page from Virginia's liquor past

Rosalind Helderman

Ongoing discussions about whether Virginia should privatize its state-run liquor stores have caused researchers to dust off intriguing tidbits about Virginia's long and tortured past with demon rum.

Take this little-known incident, for instance. In 1936, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a resolution asking the University of Virginia and the Medical College of Virginia to write a report about the affects of moderate and excessive alcohol use on the body. It was supposed to be used by the Board of Education in crafting an alcohol curriculum in schools.

The report, finished at the end of the 1937, concluded that moderate alcohol use was essentially harmless. This was shortly after the 1933 repeal of Prohibition, and those findings were deeply displeasing to a number of teetotaling legislators.

Displeasing enough that in 1938, the Virginia General Assembly voted to burn the report in the furnace of the state Capitol.

The incident was recounted in a 1991 dissertation written by researcher Ron Roizen for a phD from the University of California, Berkeley. You can even see a fuzzy photo of the offending report being shoveled into the Capitol furnace here.

And Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) didn't even know he had to fear the furnace when he unveils his privatization plan next week.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  September 1, 2010; 2:05 PM ET
Categories:  House of Delegates , Liquor privatization , Rosalind Helderman , State Senate  
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