Prohibition – A Failed Amendment

By | Jan 16, 2017

Almost from the beginning as a nation the United States the manufacturing, sales and use of intoxicating liquor has been a political issue. Early in the Washington Administration, George Washington needed to deal with the issue with what is commonly known as the Whiskey Rebellion. This was as a result of the taxing of whiskey.

Throughout the 19th century groups, the temperance movement, worked toward having alcohol use prohibited. On January 16, 1920 Wyoming, the 36th state to do so, ratified the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. This amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.

Intoxicating Liquors is defined in the “Volstead Act,” passed by congress overriding the Veto of President Woodrow Wilson on October 28, 1919. The act defined intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing over 0.5% alcohol.

Prohibition helped to bring to the front Organized Crime. Not only did criminal gangs create underground drinking establishment, at times with support of local politicians and authorities, these gangs fought each other for control. The 1920s in the United States was a very violent decade with many citing Prohibition as a major cause.

Distilleries and breweries in other countries such as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished during this period. Much of their products were either consumed by Americans, either while visiting these countries or illegally imported to the United States.

By 1933 public support of Prohibition was very small and on February 20th Congress proposed a repeal of the 18th Amendment. Ratification came quickly and on December 5th Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21th Amendment. The 18th Amendment is the only amendment to the US Constitution to have been fully repealed.


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