When George Cassiday returned from World War I, he needed a job. With the nation gripped by Prohibition, a friend suggested he try supplying bootleg liquor on Capitol Hill. Word spread quickly and Cassiday soon had a number of Congressmen — “wet” and “dry” — as clients.
By 1920 Cassiday went “in-house” with an office in the basement of the House Office Building to supply thirsty lawmakers. On one of his train trips back from NYC with “supplies,” Cassiday set his suitcase down a bit too hard and broke several bottles. A fellow traveler said, “Say, buddy, your clothes are leaking.” The Feds weren’t there to see the spill … but his luck wouldn’t hold much longer.
Eventually word about Cassiday’s cozy setup got out and in 1925 the Capitol Police caught him carrying booze into the Cannon Building. The dapper Cassiday was arrested wearing his signature green felt hat, earning him the moniker “The Man in the Green Hat.” Banned from the House, Cassiday promptly moved his operation to the Senate Office Building.
Cassiday found senators more discreet than their House colleagues, using a page or staffer to make the deal. But the feds caught on and in early 1930 Cassiday was arrested in the Senate parking lot with 6 bottles of gin. But he never spent a night in jail — courtesy, we suspect, of his long-time Capitol Hill friends.
A week before a crucial mid-term election in 1930, Cassiday wrote a series of front page articles for the Washington Post. “The Man in the Green Hat” detailed his 10-year career supplying bootleg liquor to 4 out of 5 lawmakers — and exposed the hypocrisy of a Congress flaunting the rules it imposed on America. The voters threw out the “dry” majority and set the nation on the path to Repeal!
Many thanks to Garrett Peck, Prohibition in Washington, D.C. — How Dry We Weren’t and the website of the US Senate Historical Office.