The Man Who Sold Liquor to Congressmen and Senators During the Prohibition
By | April 12, 2017
Back in 1920, America went “Dry” in an attempt to lower the crime and death rates, although we all know how it ended; people drank like there's no tomorrow and organized crime boomed. Before Prohibition, Mafia limited their activities to prostitution and gambling, but when organized bootlegging became a thing in response to Prohibition, a black market for alcohol flourished.
Just when you think that this "Dry" days could not be more ironic, we found out about the man who sold illegal alcohol to the people who made the alcohol illegal in the first place.
George L. Cassiday, Sr., known as “the man in the green hat, was one of the leading Congressional bootleggers during National Prohibition. He sold liquor for ten years to congressmen and senators.
From 1920–1925, Cassiday operated out of the Cannon House Office Building, then transferred to the Russell Senate Office Building after he got arrested in 1925; he noted that senators were more discreet. After his final arrest in February 1930, Cassiday promised he would stop bootlegging. That fall, he agreed to write a series of six articles for The Washington Post. He told his entire story, without naming names. He mentioned how he got his start, where he bought all the booze, how he smuggled them in, and how Congress gave him an office to work out of. The series ran October 24–29, 1930 with the final article posted exactly one week before the midterm election day.
Cassiday met most members of Congress during his ten-year bootlegging stint. He wrote, “As the result of my experience on Capitol Hill since prohibition went into effect I would say that four out of five senators and congressmen consume liquor either at their offices or their homes.”
Cassiday concluded his writeup series by declaring that he was giving up bootlegging. He knows he's responsible for the crime, but said that Congress was likewise culpable. “Considering that I took the risk and did the leg work from 1920 to 1930, I am more than willing to let the general public decide how I stack up with the senator or representative who ordered the stuff and consumed it on the premises or transported it to his home.” Cassiday’s articles in The Washington Post were a contributing factor to the Republican defeat in the 1930 midterm election. The dry Republican majority was ousted, and replaced by a wet Democratic majority that supported the repeal of Prohibition.
After his 1930 arrest, Cassiday was convicted of felony and sentenced to 18 months in prison. He never spent a night in jail, as he was allowed to sign out every night and sign back in the next morning. He went on to become a shoe factory worker and also on several hotels in the Washington area. Cassiday died in 1967 at age 74. Beyond admitting that it was most of Congress, Cassiday never revealed who his customers were. Cassiday's second wife destroyed the “black book” that he used to keep track of customers and their purchases.