Cocaine: Its History, Uses and Effects

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. Cocaine: Its History, Uses and Effects is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


Richard Ashely surveys the history of cocaine use, from popes to Freud, and up to the consolidation of the coke business into organized crime in the seventies.

p. 86

The drug produces several other conditions that make the ‘fiend’ a particularly dangerous criminal. One of these conditions is a temporary immunity to shock—a resistance to the ‘knock down’ effects of fatal wounds. Bullets fired into vital parts, that would drop a sane man in his tracks, fail to check the ‘fiend’—fail to stop his rush or weaken his attack. A recent experience of Chief of Police Lyerly of Asheville N.C., illustrates this particular phase of cocainism. The Chief was infomred that a hitherto inoffensive negro was ‘running amuck’ in a cocaine frenzy…. Knowing that he must kill the man or be killed himself, the Chief drew his revolver [a heavy army model… large enough to kill any game in America], placed the muzzle over the negro’s heart and fired—‘intending to kill him right quick’—but the shot did not even stagger the man. And a second shot that pierced the arm and entered the chest had just as little effect in stopping the negro or checking his attack.

“Chief Lyerly, however, won the day when he remembered the teachings of his boyhood—that a nigger’s head is not a vital part—and “finished the man with his club.” And he learned a lesson: the next day he got himself a revolver of heavier caliber. Police officers all over the South did likewise.”

p. 89

“Such statements as “there is little doubt that every Jew peddler in the South carries the stuff,” printed in the prestigious New York Times were hardly calculated to lessen the demands that cocaine be banned.