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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Before Oklahoma statehood in 1907 the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Anti-Saloon League, Carry Nation, Abbie B. Hillerman, and others campaigned for prohibition of alcohol in the future state. Due to their combined efforts Oklahoma entered the Union as a dry state. Consequently, Oklahoma's first legislature passed a law to enforce prohibition. Oklahoma State Sen. Richard A. Billups, chair of the Oklahoma Senate Prohibition Committee, initiated a bill to prohibit the manufacture, transportation, and possession of liquor. Popularly known as "Billups Booze Bill," the bill was amended after Speaker of the House William H. Murray proposed an amendment allowing state dispensaries to dispense liquor for medicinal and scientific purposes. Gov. Charles N. Haskell signed the compromise bill on March 24, 1908.

The law provided for the establishment of a dispensary in towns with populations of two thousand or more. Oklahomans could purchase liquor only if they had a prescription from a licensed physician. Physicians who prescribed alcohol for other than medical purposes could be fined from two hundred to one thousand dollars and/or imprisoned from thirty days to one year. Oklahoma contracted with Sunnybrook Company in Louisville, Kentucky, for whiskey and with Heim Brewing Company of Kansas City for beer. Fewer than twenty dispensaries existed before a 1911 law abolished the state's dispensary system.

Linda D. Wilson


Jimmie Lewis Franklin, Born Sober: Prohibition in Oklahoma, 1907–1959 (Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1971).

Jimmie Lewis Franklin, "That Noble Experiment: A Note On Prohibition in Oklahoma," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 43 (Spring 1965).

"Prohibition," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Billups Law,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=BI009.

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