Sabin, Pauline Morton, 1887-1955

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Born in Chicago, Pauline Joy Morton became interested in politics while visiting Washington, D.C, at the age of 16. In 1920 she was elected to the New York Republican Women's State Committee and rose rapidly in the party ranks. She founded the Women's National Republican Club and was the first woman appointed to the Republican National Committee. After originally supporting the prohibition movement, she changed her position in 1928, resigned from the Republican Party offices, and was a founder of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform. She supported Franklin D. Roosevelt, but became disenchanted with the New Deal and returned to the Republican Party in 1936. Her first marriage, to James Hopkins Smith, ended in divorce; her second husband, Charles Hamilton Sabin, died in 1933. She later married Dwight Filley Davis. She died in Washington, D.C.

From the description of Papers, 1923-1950 (inclusive), 1947-1950 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 232008660

Pauline Morton Sabin (April 23, 1887 – December 27, 1955) was a prohibition repeal leader and Republican party official. Born in Chicago, she was a New Yorker who founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR). Sabin was active in politics and known for her social status and charismatic personality. Sabin's efforts were a significant factor in the repeal of Prohibition.

Pauline Sabin was a wealthy, elegant, socially prominent, and politically well-connected New Yorker. She was born Pauline Joy Morton, the daughter of Paul Morton and Charlotte Goodridge. Sabin's family was very active in business and politics. Her father Paul Morton was a railroad executive. Her uncle Joy Morton founded Morton Salt Company. Her grandfather Julius Sterling Morton had been a prominent Nebraska Democrat who served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland, and her father had served as Secretary of the Navy to President Theodore Roosevelt. This later on helped spark her interest in politics. Sabin's education included private schooling; she attended school in Chicago and Washington before making her debut into society.

She married James H. Smith, Jr., in 1907. The couple had two sons before divorcing in 1914. After getting divorced, she owned her own interior decorating business. In 1916 she married Charles H. Sabin, president of the Guaranty Trust Company and treasurer of the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA). Despite the fact that her husband was a Democrat, Sabin remained a Republican but did not support Coolidge when he refused to back repeal of the 18th Amendment. She was very active in politics; she became the first member of the Suffolk County Republican Committee in 1919. She later on helped find the Women's National Republican Club and became the president. From 1921-1926 she gained enormous recognition for recruiting thousands of members and for raising funds. She also was selected to be New York's first woman representative on the Republican National Committee in 1923.

Before 1929, she favored small government and free markets. She initially supported prohibition, as she later explained: "I felt I should approve of it because it would help my two sons. The word-pictures of the agitators carried me away. I thought a world without liquor would be a beautiful world." Towards the 1920s, however, Sabin realized that no one was taking Prohibition seriously. She grew increasingly disenchanted with prohibition but worked on behalf of Herbert Hoover in the election of 1928 despite his uncertain stand on the issue. In his inauguration speech he vowed to enforce anti-liquor legislation. After the enactment of the Jones-Stalker Act in May 1929 drastically increased penalties for the violation of prohibition, she resigned from the Republican National Committee and took up the cause of repealing prohibition.

Sabin voiced her first cautious public criticism of prohibition in 1926. By 1928 she had become more outspoken. The hypocrisy of politicians who would support resolutions for stricter enforcement and half an hour later be drinking cocktails disturbed her. The ineffectiveness of the law, the apparent decline of temperate drinking, and the growing prestige of bootleggers troubled her even more. Mothers, she explained, had believed that prohibition would eliminate the temptation of drinking from their children's lives but found instead that "children are growing up with a total lack of respect for the Constitution and for the law."

After her resignation as Republican National committeewoman, Sabin received tremendous support. In May 1929 in Chicago, Pauline Sabin founded the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform with two dozen of her society friends as its nucleus. Its leadership was dominated by wives of American industry leaders. She found women who would be active workers. The organization had outstanding women as their leaders: Mrs. R. Stuyvesant Pierrepont, Mrs. Pierre S. du Pont, and Mrs. Coffin Van Rensselaer. The WONPR had very prominent family names, they were not only highly involved with their community but they were also very wealthy. The Women of the WONPR were considered smart and sophisticated women of the era. Their high social status attracted press coverage and made the movement fashionable. For housewives throughout middle America, joining the WONPR was an opportunity to mingle with high society. In less than two years, membership grew to almost 1.5 million, this was triple of the membership of the WCTU. Sabin became a symbol for independent women; she showed women that they weren't bound to support the Prohibition movement.

After the repeal amendment in December 1933, the WONPR dissolved immediately. She returned to politics and joined the American Liberty League, formed by conservative Democrats in 1934. This organization was formed to oppose Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. She hoped that women would show the same enthusiasm for the league like the WONPR but they didn't. Due to the lack of membership, the committee only lasted a year but she still remained on the executive committee in the 1930s. By 1933 she was widowed and remarried in 1936 to Dwight F. Davis. He was former secretary of war and donor of the Davis Cup tennis trophy. She campaigned for Fiorello La Guardia and Alfred Landon in 1936. In 1940, Sabin became the director of Volunteer Special Services for the American Red Cross. She aided more than 4 million families. In 1943, she resigned and moved to Washington D.C. She became a consultant on the White House interior decoration renovation for President Harry Truman. She was a member of the First iteration of the Committee on the Present Danger, established in 1950. On December 27, 1955 Pauline Sabin died in Washington D.C.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Davis, Pauline Sabin, 1877-1955. Papers, 1923-1950 (inclusive), 1947-1950 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Tilton, Elizabeth, 1869-1950. Papers, 1914-1949 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Tilton, Elizabeth, 1869-1950. Papers, 1914-1949 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers, 1833-1975 (bulk: 1884-1972) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Hyde family papers, 1863-1957. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Papers of Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, ca. 1860-1969 (inclusive) Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Central Committee on Friendship Dinners. Records, 1927-1950 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949. Papers, 1872-1949 Houghton Library
referencedIn Hyde family. Hyde family papers, 1863-1957. Cornell University Library
referencedIn Davis, Pauline Sabin, 1877-1955. Papers, 1923-1950 (inclusive), 1947-1950 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933. Papers, 1847-1933 Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers: Series III-IV, 1900-1972 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Records, 1927-1950 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Bliss, Robert Woods, 1875-1962 person
associatedWith Central Committee on Friendship Dinners corporateBody
associatedWith Hyde family. family
associatedWith Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970 person
associatedWith Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ) corporateBody
correspondedWith Robinson, Corinne Roosevelt, 1861-1933 person
associatedWith Tilton, Elizabeth, 1869-1950 person
correspondedWith Villard, Oswald Garrison, 1872-1949 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Chicago IL US
New York NY US
Washington, D. C. DC US
Subject
Republican Party
Social networks
Politicians
Prohibition
Occupation
Political Activist
Political Party Executive
Activity

Person

Birth 1877

Death 1955

Birth 1887

Death 1955

Birth 1887-04-23

Death 1955-12-27

Female

Americans

English

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