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The End of Prohibition - KOAM TV 7

The End of Prohibition

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This morning our "Question of the Day" posed a history lesson for viewers.  

  • Q: "On this day (December 5th) in what year was the 21st Amendment ratified, and the 18th Amendment repealed?"
  • A: 1933

The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies.  In December 1917, Congress passed the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes."  On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Prohibition essentially began in June of that year, but the amendment did not officially take effect until January 29, 1920.

Congress also passed the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, including the creation of a special Prohibition unit of the Treasury Department. In its first six months, the unit destroyed thousands of illicit stills run by bootleggers. But during this time organized crime flourished in America. Large-scale bootleggers like Al Capone of Chicago built criminal empires out of illegal distribution efforts, and federal and state governments lost billions in tax revenue. In most urban areas, the individual consumption of alcohol was largely tolerated and drinkers gathered at “speakeasies,” the Prohibition-era term for saloons.

Prohibition, failing fully to enforce sobriety and costing billions, rapidly lost popular support in the early 1930s. On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, ending national Prohibition. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, some states continued Prohibition by maintaining statewide temperance laws. Mississippi, the last dry state in the Union, ended Prohibition in 1966.  (history.com)

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