Little Bits of History

Prohibition

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 16, 2010

"For the sake of the children" has been used for a long time now

January 16, 1919: The Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution is ratified and it goes into effect on this date one year later. The Amendment banned the sale and/or transportation of alcoholic beverages. This was termed Prohibition, due to the prohibition of liquor as hoped for by the Temperance Movement. That movement began in the US in 1789 when Benjamin Rush and about 200 farmers formed a temperance association in Connecticut. The movement picked up steam and spread fairly rapidly until 1820 when it stalled for a few years. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and within a dozen years had over 1,500,000 members.

Drinking did not, however, disappear with the passage of the Amendment. It was legal to make a limited amount of wine and hard cider in one’s home. Whiskey was available by prescription “for medical purposes only” and filled by druggists without question. Religious ceremonial use was not curtailed.

“Speakeasies” which were bars that operated outside the law sprang up around the nation. Al Capone became one of the most famous bootleggers of the time and operated mainly out of Chicago. The concept of banning liquor has been tried in various places around the globe at different times in recent history without much success. The idea became increasingly unpopular in the States. First to return to markets were 3.2% beers and light wines. Finally the Twenty-First Amendment was passed and Prohibition was repealed in 1933.

The first half of the 20th century saw Prohibition efforts in several countries without any more success than in the US.  Even in our modern age there are still places on the planet where alcohol consumption is punishable by government agencies. Some counties in the US, as well as some countries in the world e.g. Libya and Sudan still prohibit the sale of alcohol. And in some countries like Tunisia and Morocco they allow sales to tourists, but not to locals.

“Reminds me of my safari in Africa. Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.” – W. C. Fields

“Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth.” – Will Rogers

“Laws do not persuade just because they threaten.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

“A hangover is the wrath of grapes.” – unknown

Also on this day, in 1964 the original Broadway production of Hello Dolly! began its run.

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  1. Grote Mandrenke « Little Bits of History said, on January 16, 2011 at 7:52 am

    […] on this day: Prohibition – In 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified. Hello Dolly! – In 1964, Jerry Herman’s […]


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