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Old 29 November 2008, 07:50 AM
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Icon24 Prohibition sponsored by Standard Oil

Comment: An e-mail is going around in some circles that alleges that the
Rockefellers and their oil companies -- back in early 1900 pre-prohibition
era -- paid Women's Christian Temperance Union to promote prohibition to
reduce the supply of alcohol that some automakers allegedly then said
would be a superior automotive fuel. The ostensible alleged reason was to
force automakers to develop and sell cars dependent not on alcohol, but on
earth oil products produced by the Standard Oil monopoly.
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Old 29 November 2008, 07:51 AM
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Comment: If not for the greed of John D. Rockefeller, cars would
run on alcohol today.

Most people are not aware that Henry Ford's Model T came in a variation
that allowed the driver to switch the carburetor to run the engine on
farm-made ethyl alcohol. This allowed the operator to stop at local farms
(equipped with stills) to refuel his/her car during long trips through the
backcountry. After all- the gas station wasn't exactly as ubiquitous in
those days, as it is now. The Standard Oil Company and its
industrialist-founder John D. Rockefeller wasn't too happy with this
arrangement. After all, Rockefeller's company had a virtual monopoly on
gasoline at this time in our nation's development.

Since the late 1800's there had been a growing Alcohol Temperance Movement
developing among reformers. Rockefeller saw an opportunity in this. It is
well-documented that local efforts to curb alcohol consumption were
expanded to the national level when high-profile figures like Rockefeller
joined in the anti-alcohol efforts. Was he so concerned with the social
problems that abuse of alcohol was said to cause?

No... John D. Rockefeller was not concerned with family dynamics in the
working classes. But he was influential in changing the goals of the
movement from temperance to prohibition. He gave the equivalent of $60
million in today's dollars to an obscure group pushing for prohibition
called the Women's Christian Temperance Union. As we know, his
contribution to the outlawing of the production and sale of alcohol was
successful. Of course, Rockefeller and the oil companies reaped tremendous
profits as a result. Remember that the period covered by the 18th
Amendment (1919-1933) coincided with the huge rise in the sale and
operation of automobiles. America was on the move, and all of these cars
were now operated solely on gasoline. By the time that the 21st Amendment
was passed, ending the prohibition of alcohol, the standard was already
set and worked completely in the favor of the Rockefeller family.
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Old 29 November 2008, 12:59 PM
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I find it strange that if alcohol is superior (or even equivalent) to petrol/gas that neither Germany or Japan used it to power their aircraft after oil refineries were specifically targeted. There are even reports that Germany was trying to produce a jet engine powered by powdered coal (althogh that was probably not developed at all) and Japan was producing oil from pine roots. The only ethanol fueled usage was in German V2 rockets, although US torpedos were methanol fueled.

I am also surprised that Ford produced an engine to run on 'farm-made ethyl alcohol'; surely moonshine was illegal before prohibition.

Rockefeller was of course familiar with oil workers, notorious for being heavy drinkers, so he may have had a different experience of alcohol-fueled violence than the average wealthy American of the 1920's
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Old 01 December 2008, 01:28 PM
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Prohibition didn't ban alcohol; it banned "intoxicating liquors." It didn't prevent the manufacture, development, and use of other forms of alcohol.

AFAIK, few early autos were designed to run on alcohol, anyway. The only serious competitor to internal combustion was steam, which usually used coal.

Of course, by the time the 18th Amendment was passed, automobiles were universally powered by gasoline, so if Standard Oil was involved (and it had already been broken up), it had nothing to do with preserving their business.

Prohibition was a major movement at the turn of the 19th century, and they didn't need Standard Oil's money to succeed. The WCTU had over 150,000 members in 1901.
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Old 18 December 2008, 11:09 AM
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There must have been thousands of commercial uses of alcohol that carried on during prohibition - it's a pretty common industrial chemical, surely? The 18th Amendment didn't even ban alcohol, just it's manufacture, sale, or transportation for beverage purposes.
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Old 18 December 2008, 02:54 PM
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I was told that the first diesel engines were designed to run on peanut oil. Biodeisel could be considered a form of "farm-made ethyl alcohol," however I am sure that is not what the paragraph meant to imply.

It doesn't compute at all that Prohibition had anything to do with Standard Oil.
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Old 18 December 2008, 03:51 PM
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Surely if SO had seriously viewed the advent of ethanol engines, then they would have seen this as a new business opportunity, and put some effort into making ethanol producing plants, rather than the uncertain prospect of funding the teetotal movement.
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Old 19 December 2008, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddylizard View Post
Surely if SO had seriously viewed the advent of ethanol engines, then they would have seen this as a new business opportunity, and put some effort into making ethanol producing plants, rather than the uncertain prospect of funding the teetotal movement.
Which is very similar to the whole free energy conspiracy or the rumors of the high efficiency motor that the oil/gas companies are suppressing to keep us buying cars. Complete nonsense, if one existed and it proved viable, they would shift their business model so that they could make millions off of it like any other company would.
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