National Affairs: Undoing Dyer

Leonidas Carstarphen Dyer, Congressman from Missouri, forced through Congress in 1920 a law known as the National Motor Vehicle Act. He was proud of his legislative handiwork, was glad to have people call it the Dyer Act. Its purpose was to break up interstate traffic in stolen automobiles. Violators could be jailed for five years, fined $5,000. Enforcement proved difficult. Soon one-third of all Department of Justice secret operatives were doing nothing but chasing car thieves. In 1929 the U. S. convicted 2,123 Dyer Act violators, sent 1,515 to penitentiaries.

Last week Congressman...

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