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What Was Prohibition?

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1. Prohibition has been tested before.
In the first half of the 18th century, revivalists from the church as well as early teetotaler groups such as The American Temperance Society campaigned relentlessly against what they believed was an epidemic of drunkenness across the country. The group scored a huge victory in 1851 after their Maine legislators passed a comprehensive prohibition on the sale of alcohol. The same year, a dozen other states adopted “Maine Laws” of their own then repealed the law in the following years, following massive protests and riots by the grog-loving population (Kansas adopted a different prohibition on 1881). Demands for the establishment of a “dry” America continued into the 1910s, as deep-pocketed and politically connected organizations like The Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union were able to gain large-scale support for anti-alcohol legislation at Capitol Hill.

2. World War I helped turn the country in the direction of Prohibition.

Prohibition was essentially shut down by the time that it was the time that United States entered World War I in 1917, however this war proved to be one of the last nail to the coffin alcohol that was legalized. Dry advocates believed they believed that the barley utilized to make beer could be turned into bread for the consumption of American soldiers as well as devastated Europeans and succeeded in securing wartime prohibitions on strong drinks. Alcohol crusaders who opposed alcohol were often motivated by xenophobia and the conflict allowed them to portray America’s predominantly German brewery industry as threat. “We have German enemies in our nation, as well,” one temperance politician claimed. “And the most dangerous of our German adversaries and the most dangerous and most threatening, include Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz and Miller.”

3. It was not illegal to drink in alcohol throughout Prohibition.

The 18th Amendment only forbade the “manufacture or sale, as well as transport of intoxicating liquors”–not their consumption. The law stipulated that all beer, wine or spirits that Americans kept in their cellars as of January 1920 was theirs to keep and drink in the private of their homes. Most likely, it was to a handful of bottles, however some wealthy drinkers had wine cellars with a soaring volume and even purchased entire inventory of liquor stores to make sure they had plenty of legally-licensed alcohol.

4. Certain states have refused to apply Prohibition.

Alongside establishing Federal agents Along with establishing an army of federal officers, in addition to establishing a federal agent army, 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act specified that states must implement Prohibition within their own boundaries. Governors were not happy with the increased burden on their budgets However, most of them did not allocate funds to enforce the prohibition on alcohol. Maryland has never even passed an enforcement code and in the end, earned a reputation for being one of the most obstinately anti-Prohibition states of the Union. New York followed suit and removed its laws in 1923. Other states became more sloppy as the decade progressed. “National prohibition came into legal in the year 18 months in the past,” Maryland Senator William Cabell Bruce stated to Congress in the mid-1920s “but it’s been stated that, unless to the extent of a very limited degree the law has never been put into practice.”

5. Drug stores continued to sell liquor as “medicine.”

The Volstead Act included a few fascinating exceptions to the ban on the distribution of alcohol. Sacramental wine was allowed to be used in religious ceremonies (the number of rabbis who were not trustworthy and priests soared) and pharmacies were permitted to offer “medicinal whiskey” for treating everything from toothaches to flu. With a doctor’s prescription, “patients” could legally buy a pint or two of hard liquor every 10 days. The booze from a pharmaceutical company was often accompanied by absurd doctor’s orders like “Take three ounces of alcohol every hour as a stimulant until you are stimulated.” A number of speakeasies were disguised as being pharmacies and legitimate chains grew. Based on Prohibition scholar Daniel Okrent, windfalls from legal sales of alcohol led to the chain of drug stores Walgreens increase its number from about 20 locations to over 500 by the 1920s.

6. Beer and winemakers have found innovative ways to remain in business.

Although a number of tiny distilleries or breweries remained to operate under cover during Prohibition and prohibition, the remaining had to close them down or come up with alternative applications for their facilities. Yuengling along with Anheuser Busch both refitted their Breweries to make Ice Cream, while Coors increased its production of ceramics and pottery. Other breweries created “near beer”–legal beers that had just 0.5 percentage alcohol. The majority of brewers maintained their lights through the sale of malt syrup an illegally shady extract that could be made into beer by mixing yeast and water, and then giving the fermentation process to take place. Winemakers took a similar path through the sale of chunks of grape concentrate referred to “wine bricks.”

7. Thousands of people died after drinking tainted alcohol.

Bootleggers who were savvy and creative produced millions of gallons “bathtub Gin” and rotgut moonshine in Prohibition. The nefarious hooch was known for its well-known taste that was sour and anyone who was who were compelled to consume it were at risk of being blinded or even poisoned. The most dangerous tinctures were made up of industrial alcohol, originally designed for use in fuels as well as medical equipment. The federal government had ordered companies to denature industrial liquor in order to make it drink-safe in the year 1906, however during Prohibition it required them to include methyl alcohol, quinine and other poisonous chemicals as a way to deter. Together with the other cheap products offered by bootleggers, this booze with a tainted taste could have killed over 10,000 people prior to it was wiped out by the 18th Amendment.

8. The Great Depression helped fuel calls for an end to the ban.

In the 1920s, Americans had been spending more than ever before on alcohol sold on the black market. New York City boasted more than 30,000 speakeasies. Detroit’s liquor trade is second to only the automobile industry in terms of its contributions to economic growth. As the nation was dragged down in depression, Great Depression, anti-Prohibition activists claimed that the potential tax savings and the revenue due to alcohol are too important to be ignored. The public was in agreement. Following Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the repeal of the 18th Amendment at the time of the presidential election in which he was elected president by a majority. Prohibition was repealed one year later after a majority of states ratified 21st Amendment repealing the 18th. At New Orleans, the decision was celebrated with a celebratory 20-minute cannon firing. Roosevelt was said to have celebrated the event by drinking a dirty martini.

Visit this website for the history of prohibition.

9. The amount of alcohol consumed decreased in the course of Prohibition.

The “Roaring Twenties” and the Prohibition period are frequently linked to uncontrolled drinking and abusing alcohol, but the facts reveal a different picture. According to research conducted by M.I.T. in conjunction with Boston University economists in the early 1990s, the consumption of alcohol decreased by as much as 70% during the initial times in the “noble experiment.” The rates soared significantly during the latter half of 1920, after the popularity for the law decreased however they remained at 30 percent lower than pre-Prohibition levels many years following the passing in the 21st Amendment.

10. It continues to happen in some regions of the nation to today.

After the end of Prohibition however, certain states continued to prohibit alcohol within their border. Kansas and Oklahoma remain unaltered until 1958 and 1948 respectively. Mississippi was alcohol-free until the year 1966, which was 33 years after the passing in the 21st Amendment. Today there are 10 states that have counties that prohibit sales of alcohol completely.