Timothy H Moran

ANSLINGER, HARRY JACOB, AND U.S. DRUG POLICY For almost a third of a century, from 1930 until 1962, one man, Harry Jacob Anslinger (1892-1975), had the dominant role in shaping and enforcing U.S. policy about the use of drugs—other than alcohol and tobacco. Understanding his life and work is, therefore, a necessity for understanding the evolution of federal drug policies through the end of the twentieth century. Anslinger was Commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department Bureau of Narcotics from 1930 to 1962, chief U.S. delegate to international drug agencies until 1970, and a leading proponent of repressive antidrug measures in the United States—and worldwide.

Anslinger was born in Altoona, Pennsylvania, May 20, 1892, the eighth of nine children in a Swiss immigrant family. At the age of twelve, he was sent by a neighbor to pick up a package of morphine from the drugstore. Anslinger said that he never forgot the screams of agony shrieked by the neighbor's wife because of her withdrawal symptoms, or how quickly she felt good upon getting a dose, or how easy it was for a twelve-year-old boy to buy morphine. Until the Harrison Act was passed in 1914—about a decade after this incident which haunted Anslinger for the rest of his life—there was simply no federal law against selling or using narcotics. They were inexpensive. Most persons started taking them as perfectly legal painkillers. A few of these persons became addicted, often without even realizing it. They merely used the narcotic so steadily that they didn't experience withdrawal. These addicts were typically white, lived in the countryside, continued to function satisfactorily at work or at home, could afford the cheap drugs they used, and caused no trouble to anyone else.

At the age of fourteen, Anslinger started working for the Pennsylvania Railroad while taking high school courses in his free hours. Without a high school diploma, he managed in 1913 to enter a Pennsylvania State College two-year program in engineering and business management, while continuing to work part-time for the railroad and also playing the piano for silent movies. By 1915, he was a railroad detective, and one summer day he had to assist an Italian railroad worker who had been beaten and left unconscious near the tracks by an organized-crime gangster.

In 1917, he volunteered to help the American effort in World War I and worked for the U.S. Army as assistant to the Chief of Inspection of Equipment. In 1918, Anslinger entered the U.S. diplomatic service. His First post was Holland, where he was assigned as liaison to deposed Kaiser Wilhelm's entourage; Wilhelm II was born in 1859, became Emperor (Kaiser, that is Caesar) of Germany and King of Prussia in 1888 upon the death of his father, Frederick III, reigned as emperor and king until 1918 when he fled to asylum in Holland, where he lived a comfortable life as a country gentleman until his death in 1940. Anslinger's assignment in Holland lasted three years, and then in the summer of 1921, he was sent to Hamburg, Germany. In 1923 he was reassigned from Germany to Venezuela for a frustrating three-year stint as U.S. vice-consul in La Guaira, the port for the capital city of Caracas (McWilliams, 1990).

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Beat The Battle With The Bottle

Alcoholism is something that can't be formed in easy terms. Alcoholism as a whole refers to the circumstance whereby there's an obsession in man to keep ingesting beverages with alcohol content which is injurious to health. The circumstance of alcoholism doesn't let the person addicted have any command over ingestion despite being cognizant of the damaging consequences ensuing from it.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment