Three other laws enacted during President Wilson’s administration were popular in the labor world. One of them provided compensation for federal employees injured in the discharge of their duties. Another prohibited the labor of children under a certain age in the industries of the nation. A third prescribed for coal miners in Alaska an eight-hour day and modern safeguards for life and health. There were positive proofs that organized labor had obtained a large share of power in the councils of the country.
=Federal and State Relations.=—If the interference of the government with business and labor represented a departure from the old idea of “the less government the better,” what can be said of a large body of laws affecting the rights of states? The prohibition of child labor everywhere was one indication of the new tendency. Mr. Wilson had once declared such legislation unconstitutional; the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional; but Congress, undaunted, carried it into effect under the guise of a tax on goods made by children below the age limit. There were other indications of the drift. Large sums of money were appropriated by Congress in 1916 to assist the states in building and maintaining highways. The same year the Farm Loan Act projected the federal government into the sphere of local money lending. In 1917 millions of dollars were granted to states in aid of vocational education, incidentally imposing uniform standards throughout the country. Evidently the government was no longer limited to the duties of the policeman.
=The Prohibition Amendment.=—A still more significant form of intervention in state affairs was the passage, in December, 1917, of an amendment to the federal Constitution establishing national prohibition of the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors as beverages. This was the climax of a historical movement extending over half a century. In 1872, a National Prohibition party, launched three years before, nominated its first presidential candidate and inaugurated a campaign of agitation. Though its vote was never large, the cause for which it stood found increasing favor among the people. State after state by popular referendum abolished the liquor traffic within its borders. By 1917 at least thirty-two of the forty-eight were “dry.” When the federal amendment was submitted for approval, the ratification was surprisingly swift. In a little more than a year, namely, on January 16, 1919, it was proclaimed. Twelve months later the amendment went into effect.