Prohibition in the United States

Prohibition in the United States
Detroit police inspecting equipment found in a clandestine underground brewery during the Prohibition era

Prohibition in the United States (sometimes referred to as the Noble Experiment)[1] was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933.[2] The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited. Prohibition ended with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, on December 5, 1933.



The Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 17, 1920.[3]

On November 18, 1918, before the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, the United States Congress passed the temporary Wartime Prohibition Act, which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages having an alcohol content of greater than 2.75%.[4] (This act, which was intended to save grain for the war effort, was passed after the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.) The Wartime Prohibition Act took effect June 30, 1919, and July 1, 1919 became widely known as the "Thirsty-First".[5][6]

Congress passed the Volstead Act, the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919, and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor, as well as penalties for producing it.[7] Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, the federal government did little to enforce it. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.[8]

While Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity.[9] The bulk of America became disenchanted after the St. Valentine's Day massacre in 1929. Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities.

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.[10]



The Drunkard's Progress: A lithograph by Nathaniel Currier supporting the temperance movement, January 1846

Alcohol and alcoholism have been a contentious topic in America since the colonial period.

In May of 1657, the General Court of Massachusetts made the sale of strong liquor "whether known by the name of rumme, strong water, wine, brandy, etc." illegal.[11]

In general, informal social controls in the home and community helped maintain the expectation that the abuse of alcohol was unacceptable. "Drunkenness was condemned and punished, but only as an abuse of a God-given gift. Drink itself was not looked upon as culpable, any more than food deserved blame for the sin of gluttony. Excess was a personal indiscretion."[12] When informal controls failed, there were always legal ones.

One of the foremost physicians of the late 18th century, Benjamin Rush, argued in "The Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits upon the Human Body and Mind" in 1784 that the excessive use of alcohol was injurious to physical and psychological health and went so far as to label drunkenness as a disease (he believed in moderation rather than prohibition).[13] Apparently influenced by Rush's widely discussed belief, about 200 farmers in a Connecticut community formed a temperance association in 1789. Similar associations were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York in 1808. Within the next decade, other temperance organizations were formed in eight states, some being statewide organizations. The words of Rush and other early temperance reformers served to dichotomize the use of alcohol for men and women. While men enjoyed drinking and often considered it vital to their health, women who began to embrace the ideology of 'true motherhood' refrained from consumption of alcohol. Middle-class women were considered the moral authorities of their households and consequently rejected the drinking of alcohol, which was considered a threat to the home.[14]

In 1830, on average, Americans consumed 1.7 bottles of hard liquor per week, three times the amount consumed in 2010.[9]

Development of the Prohibition movement

The American Temperance Society (ATS), 1826, helped to initiate the first temperance movement and consequently served as a foundation for many later groups. By 1835, the ATS had reached 1.5 million members, with women constituting between 35-60% of individual chapters.[15]

The prohibition, or "dry", movement continued in the 1840s, spearheaded by pietistic religious denominations, especially the Methodists. The late 19th century saw the temperance movement broaden its focus from abstinence to all behavior and institutions related to alcohol consumption. Preachers such as Reverend Mark A. Matthews linked liquor-dispensing saloons with prostitution.

"Who does not love wine wife and song, will be a fool for his lifelong!" — a vigorous 1873 assertion of the cultural values of German-Americans.

Some successes were registered in the 1850s, including Maine's total ban on the manufacture and sale of liquor, adopted in 1851. However, the ban in Maine was repealed in 1856. The movement soon lost strength, and was marginalized during the American Civil War (1861–1865).

The issue was revived by the Prohibition Party, founded in 1869, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), founded in 1873. The WCTU advocated the prohibition of alcohol as a method for preventing the possible abuses from the alcoholic husbands.[16] One of its methods to achieve that goal was education. It was believed that if it could "get to the children" it could create a "dry" sentiment leading to prohibition. Frances Willard, the second president of the WCTU, held the aims of the organization were to create a "union of women from all denominations, for the purpose of educating the young, forming a better public sentiment, reforming the drinking classes, transforming by the power of Divine grace those who are enslaved by alcohol, and removing the dram-shop from our streets by law."[17] While still denied universal voting privileges, women in the WCTU followed Frances Willard's "Do Everything" doctrine and used temperance as a method of entering into politics and furthering other progressive issues such as prison reform and labor laws.[18]

In 1881, Kansas became the first state to outlaw alcoholic beverages in its Constitution, with Carrie Nation gaining notoriety for enforcing the provision herself by walking into saloons, scolding customers, and using her hatchet to destroy bottles of liquor. Nation recruited ladies into the Carrie Nation Prohibition Group, which Nation also led. While Carrie Nation's vigilante techniques were rare, other activists enforced the cause by entering saloons, singing, praying, and urging saloon keepers to stop selling alcohol.[19] Many other states, especially in the South, also enacted prohibition, along with many individual counties.

Many court cases also debated the subject under different lights and for different situations, there was an overall lean towards prohibition, however, many cases still ruled opposed to the believed effects. In Mugler v. Kansas, 1887, Justice Harlan, wrote, "We cannot shut out of view the fact, within the knowledge of all, that the public health, the public morals, and the public safety, may be endangered by the general use of intoxicating drinks; nor the fact established by statistics accessible to every one, that the idleness, disorder, pauperism and crime existing in the country, are, in some degree... traceable to this evil."[20] In support of prohibition, Crowley v. Christensen, 1890, said, "The statistics of every state show a greater amount of crime and misery attributable to the use of ardent spirits obtained at these retail liquor saloons than to any other source."[20]

In the Progressive Era (1890–1920), hostility to saloons and their political influence became widespread, with the Anti-Saloon League superseding the Prohibition Party and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union as the most influential advocate of prohibition, when the latter two groups chose to piggyback other social reform issues, such as women's suffrage, onto their prohibition platform.

Prohibition was an important force in state and local politics from the 1840s through the 1930s. The political forces involved were ethnoreligious in character, as demonstrated by numerous historical studies.[21] Prohibition was demanded by the "dries" – primarily pietistic Protestant denominations, especially the Methodists, Northern Baptists, Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, Congregationalists, Quakers and Scandinavian Lutherans. They identified saloons as politically corrupt and drinking as a personal sin. Other active organizations included the Women's Church Federation, the Women's Temperance Crusade, and the Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction. They were opposed by the "wets" – primarily liturgical Protestants (Episcopalians, German Lutherans) and Roman Catholics, who denounced the idea that the government should define morality.[22] Even in the wet stronghold of New York City there was an active prohibition movement, led by Norwegian church groups and African-American labor activists who believed that Prohibition would benefit workers, especially African-Americans. Tea merchants and soda fountain manufacturers generally supported Prohibition, thinking a ban on alcohol would increase sales of their products.[23]

Prohibition represented a conflict between urban and rural values emerging in the United States. Given the mass influx of immigrants to the urban dwellings of the United States, many individuals within the prohibition movement associated the crime and morally corrupt behavior of the cities of America with their large immigrant populations. In a backlash to the new emerging realities of the American demographic, many prohibitionists subscribed to the doctrine of “nativism” in which they endorsed the notion that America was made great as a result of its white Anglo-Saxon ancestry. This fostered xenophobic sentiments towards urban immigrant communities who typically argued in favor of abolishing prohibition.[24] Additionally, these nativist sentiments were a part of a larger process of Americanization taking place during the same time period.[25]

Political cartoon describing the alliance between the prohibition and women suffrage movements.

Two other amendments to the constitution were championed by "dries" to help their cause. The Federal income tax replaced the alcohol taxes that funded the federal government.[26]p.57 Also, since women tended to support prohibition, temperance organizations supported women suffrage.[26]

In the 1916 presidential election, both Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson and Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes ignored the Prohibition issue, as was the case with both parties' political platforms. Democrats and Republicans had strong wet and dry factions, and the election was expected to be close, with neither candidate wanting to alienate any part of his political base.

In January 1917, the 65th Congress convened, in which the dries outnumbered the wets by 140 to 64 in the Democratic Party and 138 to 62 among Republicans. With America's declaration of war against Germany in April, German-Americans—a major force against prohibition—were sidelined and their protests subsequently ignored. In addition, a new justification for prohibition arose: prohibiting the production of alcoholic beverages would allow more resources—especially the grain that would otherwise be used to make alcohol—to be devoted to the war effort. While "war prohibition" was a spark for the movement,[27] by the time Prohibition was enacted, the war was over.

The Defender Of The 18th Amendment. From Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty published by the Pillar of Fire Church

A resolution calling for an amendment to accomplish nationwide Prohibition was introduced in Congress and passed by both houses in December 1917. By January 16, 1919, the Amendment had been ratified by thirty-six of the forty-eight states. On October 28, 1919, the amendment was implemented by the Volstead Act. Prohibition began on January 17, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. A total of 1,520 Federal Prohibition agents (police) were given the task of enforcing the law.

Although it was highly controversial, Prohibition was widely supported by diverse groups. Progressives believed that it would improve society as generally did women, southerners, those living in rural areas and African-Americans. There were a few exceptions such as the Woman’s Organization for Prohibition Reform who fought against it. Will Rogers often joked about the southern pro-prohibitionists: "The South is dry and will vote dry. That is, everybody sober enough to stagger to the polls." Supporters of the Amendment soon became quite confident that it would not be repealed, to the point that one of its creators, Senator Morris Sheppard, joked that "there is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a humming-bird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail."[28]

At the same time, songs emerged decrying the act; after Edward, Prince of Wales, returned to Britain following his 1919 tour of Canada, he recounted to his father, King George V, a ditty he'd heard at a border town:

Four and twenty Yankees, feeling very dry,
Went across the border to get a drink of rye.
When the rye was opened, the Yanks began to sing,
"God bless America, but God save the King!"[29]

The issue of Prohibition became a highly controversial one among medical professionals, because alcohol was widely prescribed by physicians of the era for therapeutic purposes. Congress held hearings on the medicinal value of beer in 1921. Subsequently, physicians across the country lobbied for the repeal of Prohibition as it applied to medicinal liquors.[30]

While the manufacture, sale and transport of alcohol was illegal in the U.S., Section 29 of the Volstead Act allowed the making at home of wine and cider from fruit (but not beer). Up to 200 gallons per year could be made, and some vineyards grew grapes for home use. Also, one anomaly of the Act as worded was that it did not actually prohibit the consumption of alcohol; many people actually stockpiled wines and liquors for their own use in the latter part of 1919 before sales of alcohol became illegal the following January.

Alcoholic drinks were not always illegal in all neighboring countries. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or illegally imported to the U.S. The Detroit River, which forms part of the border with Canada, was notoriously difficult to control. Chicago became a haven for Prohibition dodgers during the time known as the Roaring Twenties. Many of Chicago's most notorious gangsters, including Al Capone and his enemy Bugs Moran, made millions of dollars through illegal alcohol sales. By the end of the decade Capone controlled all 10,000 speakeasies in Chicago and ruled the bootlegging business from Canada to Florida. Numerous other crimes, including theft and murder, were directly linked to criminal activities in Chicago and elsewhere in violation of prohibition.

Two separate Federal Agencies were to enforce the Volstead Act:

Policeman with wrecked automobile and confiscated moonshine, 1922


1933 newsreel

As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, especially in the big cities, "Repeal" was eagerly anticipated. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of "3.2 beer" (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines. The original Volstead Act had defined "intoxicating beverage" as one with greater than 0.5% alcohol.[7] Upon signing the amendment, Roosevelt made his famous remark; "I think this would be a good time for a beer."[33] The Cullen-Harrison Act became law on April 7, 1933, and on April 8, 1933, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. sent a team of Clydesdale horses to deliver a case of Budweiser to the White House. The Eighteenth Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933 with ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment. Despite the efforts of Heber J. Grant and the LDS Church, a Utah convention helped ratify the 21st Amendment.[34] While Utah can be considered the deciding 36th state to ratify the Amendment and make it law, the day Utah approved the Amendment, both Pennsylvania and Ohio approved it as well.

One of the main reasons why enforcement of prohibition did not proceed smoothly was the inefficient means of enforcing the laws set forth by the 18th amendment. From its very inception, the law lacked legitimacy in the eyes of the public who had previously been drinkers and yet completely law-abiding citizens. The public in some instances viewed the laws as being “arbitrary and unnecessary” and therefore were willing to breach them. Consequently, law enforcements agents who had not been bribed to turn a blind eye, found themselves overwhelmed by the dramatic rise in the illegal distribution of alcohol on such a wide scale due to the Volstead Act. The scale of the task was not anticipated and consequently the necessary resources to pursue it were not allocated. Additionally, enforcement of the 18th amendment lacked centralized authority and many attempts to impose prohibitionist laws were deterred due to the lack of transparency between federal and state authorities. Furthermore, the reality of American geography contributed significantly to the difficulties in enforcing prohibition. The terrain of valleys, mountains, lakes and swamps as well as the extensive seaways, ports and massive borders running along Canada and Mexico made it exceedingly difficult for prohibition agents to stop bootleggers given their lack of resources. Ultimately it was recognized with its repeal that the means by which the law was to be enforced was not pragmatic, and that in many cases the legislature did not match the general public opinion.[35]

Prohibition was a major blow for the alcohol industry and repeal was therefore a step toward the amelioration of one sector of the economy. A perfect example for this is the case of St. Louis. The city had been one of the most important alcohol producers before prohibition started and was ready to take back its position as soon as possible. Its major brewery had "50,000 barrels" of beer ready to be sent since March 22. It was the first alcohol producer to refill the market, but others followed. This slowly allowed stores to obtain alcohol after, of course, having obtained a license. The restart of beer production allowed thousands of workers to find jobs again.[36]

Prohibition created a black market that competed with the formal economy, which already was under pressure.[clarification needed] Roosevelt was elected based on the New Deal, which promised improvement to the economy that was only possible if the formal economy competed successfully against various economic forces, including the effects of prohibition's black market. This influenced his support for ratifying the 21st amendment, which repealed the 18th amendment that had established prohibition.[37]

The Twenty-first Amendment explicitly confirms the right of states to restrict or ban the purchase or sale of alcohol. This led to a patchwork of laws in which alcohol may be legally sold in some but not all towns or counties within a particular state. After repeal of the 18th amendment, some states continued to enforce prohibition laws. Mississippi, which had made alcohol illegal in 1907, was the last state to repeal Prohibition in 1966. Kansas did not allow sale of liquor "by the drink" (on-premises) until 1987. To the present day, there are still numerous "dry" counties and towns in America that restrict or prohibit liquor sales.[38] Additionally, many tribal governments prohibit alcohol on Indian reservations. Federal law also prohibits alcohol on Indian reservations,[39] although this law is currently only enforced if there is a concomitant violation of local tribal liquor laws.[40] The federal law prohibiting alcohol in Indian country pre-dates the Eighteenth Amendment. No constitutional changes were necessary prior to the passage of this law, as Indian Reservations and federal territories have always been considered areas of direct federal jurisdiction.

At the end of Prohibition, some supporters openly admitted its failure. A quote from a letter, written in 1932 by wealthy industrialist and New York city resident John D. Rockefeller, Jr., states:

"When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before."[41]

Prohibition and Christianity

Prohibition in the early to mid-twentieth was fueled by the Protestant denominations in the U.S.[42] Churches in the U.S. sought to curtail intoxication, gluttony, and overindulgence of alcohol. Revivalism in the 19th century set the stage for the bond between Christianity and prohibition in the United States: “The greater prevalence of revival religion within a population, the greater support for the Republican and Prohibition parties within that population.”[43] Author Nancy Koester expressed the belief that Prohibition was a “victory for progressives and social gospel activists battling poverty”.[44] Prohibition also united progressives and revivalists[citation needed].

Effects of Prohibition

Organized crime

Organized crime received a major boost from Prohibition. Mafia groups limited their activities to prostitution, gambling, and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging manifested in response to the effect of Prohibition.[45] A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. In essence prohibition provided a financial basis for organized crime to flourish.[46] Rather than reducing crime it seemed prohibition had transformed the cities into battlegrounds between opposing bootlegging gangs. In a study of over 30 major U.S cities during the prohibition years of 1920 and 1921, the number of crimes increased by 24%. Additionally, theft and burglaries increased by 9%, homicide by 12.7%, assaults and battery rose by 13%, drug addiction by 44.6% and police department costs rose by 11.4%. It has been speculated[clarification needed] that this was largely the result of “black-market violence” as well as law enforcing resources having been diverted elsewhere. Despite the beliefs of the prohibitionist movement that by outlawing alcohol crime would surely be reduced, the reality was that the Volstead Act led to worse social conditions than were experienced prior to prohibition as demonstrated by more lethal forms of alcohol, increased crime rates, and the establishment of a black market dominated by criminal organizations.[47][clarification needed]

Furthermore, stronger liquor surged in popularity because its potency made it more profitable to smuggle. To prevent bootleggers from using industrial ethyl alcohol to produce illegal beverages, the government ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols. In response, bootleggers hired chemists who successfully renatured the alcohol to make it drinkable. As a response, the Treasury Department required manufacturers to add more deadly poisons, including the particularly deadly methyl alcohol. New York City medical examiners prominently opposed these policies because of the danger to human life. As many as 10,000 people died from drinking denatured alcohol before Prohibition ended.[48]

Another lethal substance that was often substituted for alcohol was "canned heat," also commonly known as Sterno. By forcing the substance through a make-shift filter, such as a handkerchief, to create a rough liquor substitute. However, the result was poisonous, though not often lethal. Many of those who were poisoned as a result united to sue the government for reparations after the end of Prohibition.[49]

Making alcohol at home was very common during Prohibition. Stores sold grape concentrate with warning labels that listed the steps that should be avoided to prevent the juice from fermenting into wine. As well, some drug stores would sell a "medical wine" with around a 22% alcohol content; in order to justify the sale, the wine was given a medical taste.[49] Home-distilled hard liquor was referred to as “bathtub gin” in northern cities, and moonshine in the rural areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. Home-brewing good hard liquor was easier than brewing good beer.[49] Since selling privately distilled alcohol was illegal and bypassed taxation by the government, the law relentlessly pursued manufacturers.[50] In response, the bootleggers in southern states started creating their own souped-up, stock-looking cars by enhancing their cars’ engines and suspensions to create a faster vehicle. Having a faster vehicle during Prohibition, they presumed, would improve their chances of outrunning and escaping agents of the Bureau of Prohibition, commonly called "revenue agents" or "revenuers." These cars became known as “moonshine runners” or "'shine runners".[51] Ships were also known to collaborate with the underground liquor market, by loading their stocks with ingredients for liquors, which anyone could legally purchase (these include: benedictine, vermouth, scotch mash, and even ethyl alcohol).[52]

Prohibition also had a large effect on the music industry in the United States, specifically with jazz. Speakeasies became far more popular during that time and the effects of the Great Depression caused a migration that led to a greater dispersal of jazz music. Movement began from New Orleans and went north through Chicago and to New York. This also meant developing different styles in the different cities. Because of its popularity in speakeasies and the development of more advanced recording devices, jazz became very popular very fast. It was also at the forefront of the minimal integration efforts going on at the time, as it united mostly black musicians with mostly white crowds.[53]

Along with other economic effects, the enactment of prohibition and the resulting enforcement and the resources dedicated to that enforcement increased. During the 1920s, the annual budget of the Bureau of Prohibition went from $4.4 million to $13.4 million. Additionally, the Coast Guard spent an average of $13 million annually on prohibition.[54] These numbers do not take into account the costs to local and state governments.

When repeal of Prohibition occurred in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits in most states (states still had the right to enforce their own laws concerning alcohol consumption) because of competition with low-priced alcohol sales at legal liquor stores.

Unintended outcomes

As a result of prohibition, the advancements of industrialization within the alcohol industry were essentially reversed. This was achieved by large scale alcohol producers being shut down for the most part and individual citizens taking it upon themselves to produce alcohol illegally. This process reversed the efficiency of mass producing and retailing alcoholic beverages. Closing manufacturing plants and taverns resulted in economic reversal. The Eighteenth Amendment originally did not have this effect on the industry due to its failure to define what an “intoxicating” beverage was. The Volstead Act’s definition of 0.5% or more alcohol by volume constituting “intoxicating” shut down the brewers who had expected to still be able to produce beer of moderate strength.[55]

Illegal marketeers had to attract new clients. One notable group of new drinkers were women. Those who were not in support of prohibition could drink in the new semi-public environment of speakeasies.This was a result of the masculinity of drinking being reduced as a result of the saloon dying out and the norm of women drinking in public was much more acceptable.[55]

And in the year before the Volstead Act became law, it was estimated by the 1930 Prohibition Commissioner, that the average drinking American spent $17 per year on alcoholic beverages. By 1930, because enforcement diminished the supply, this had increased to $35 per year (there was no inflation in this period), resulting in an illegal alcohol beverage industry that made an average of $3 billion per year in illegal untaxed income.[56]

Heavy drinkers and alcoholics were among the most affected parties during prohibition. Those who were determined to find liquor could still do so, but those who saw their drinking habits as destructive typically had difficulty in finding the help they sought. The self-help societies had withered away along with the alcohol industry and in 1935 a new self-help group was founded: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).[55]

Prohibition had a notable effect on the alcohol brewing industry in the United States. When Prohibition ended, only half the breweries that previously existed reopened. Wine historians also note Prohibition destroyed what was a fledgling wine industry in the United States. Productive wine quality grape vines were replaced by lower quality vines growing thicker skinned grapes that could be more easily transported. Much of the institutional knowledge was also lost as winemakers either emigrated to other wine producing countries or left the business altogether.[57] Hard-liquor was popularized during the interim, as good beer became more difficult to find.[49] Because this form of liquor was much harder than the popular drinks had before 18th amendment, other forms of the drinks were developed; mixing and watering down the hard alcohol became popular, especially rum and gin.[49]

Winemaking during Prohibition

The Volstead Act specifically allowed individual farmers to make certain wines "on the legal fiction that it was a non-intoxicating fruit-juice for home consumption",[58] and many people did so. Enterprising grape farmers produced liquid and semi-solid grape concentrates, often called "wine bricks" or "wine blocks".[59] This demand led California grape growers to increase their land under cultivation by about 700% in the first five years of prohibition. The grape concentrate was sold with a warning: "After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine."[12] One grape block producer sold nine varieties: Port, Virginia Dare, Muscatel, Angelica, Tokay, Sauterne, Riesling, Claret and Burgundy.


Pre-Prohibition saloons were mostly male establishments; post-Prohibition bars catered to both males and females.

Prohibition did reduce per-capita consumption of alcohol. Not until the 1960s did consumption in the United States exceed pre-Prohibition levels.[60]

See also


  1. ^ Prohibition: The Noble Experiment Oracle ThinkQuest
  2. ^ Wayne Curtis, "Bootleg Paradise," American Heritage, April/May 2007.
  3. ^ Vick, Dwight (2010). Drugs and Alcohol in the 21st Century: Theory, Behavior, and Policy. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 128. ISBN 9780763774882. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  4. ^ Miller, William D. Pretty Bubbles in the Air: American in 1919, University of Illinois Press, 1991, p. 151. ISBN 0-252-01823-0
  5. ^ Burlington Historical Society 2010 March newsletter
  6. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott This Side of Paradise, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920, p. 223. ("The advent of prohibition with the 'thirsty-first' put a sudden stop to[...]" [referring to July of 1919]); and Fitzgerald, F. Scott The Beautiful and the Damned, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 407, note 321.2 ("[W]hen prohibition came in July [...]").
  7. ^ a b "Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago", Bob Skilnik, Baracade Books, 2006, ISBN 978-1569803127
  8. ^ "Teaching With Documents: The Volstead Act and Related Prohibition Documents". United States National Archives. 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  9. ^ a b Von Drehle, David (24 May 2010). "The Demon Drink". New York, New York: Time. pp. 56.,9171,1989146,00.html. 
  10. ^ "TTBGov General Alcohol FAQs". United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. 2006-04. Retrieved 2010-11-07. 
  11. ^ Blue, Anthony Dias (2004). The Complete Book of Spirits : A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment. HarperCollins. p. 73. ISBN 0-06-054218-7. 
  12. ^ a b Aaron, Paul and Musto, David. Temperance and Prohibition in America: An Historical Overview. In: Moore, Mark H., and Gerstein, Dean R. (eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy: Beyond the Shadow of Prohibition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1981. pp. 127-181.
  13. ^ Blocker, Jack S. (1989). American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 10. 
  14. ^ Blocker, Jack S. (1989). American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 16. 
  15. ^ Blocker, Jack S. (1989). American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 14. 
  16. ^ Bordin, Ruth (1981). Women and Temperance: The Quest for Power and Liberty, 1873-1900. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. pp. 8. 
  17. ^ Willard, Frances E. (2007). Let Something Good Be Said: Speeches and Writings of Frances E. Willard. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 78. 
  18. ^ Blocker, Jack S. (1989). American Temperance Movement: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne Publishers. pp. 13. 
  19. ^ "Carry A. Nation: The Famous and Original Bar Room Smasher". Kansas Historical Society. 2002-11-01. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  20. ^ a b Hopkins, Richard J. "The Prohibition and Crime". The North American Review. Volume: 222. Number: 828. September, 1925. 40-44.
  21. ^ Paul Kleppner, The Third Electoral System 1853-1892: Parties, Voters, and Political Cultures. (1979) pp 131-39; Paul Kleppner, Continuity and Change in Electoral Politics, 1893-1928. (1987); Ballard Campbell, "Did Democracy Work? Prohibition in Late Nineteenth-century Iowa: a Test Case." Journal of Interdisciplinary History (1977) 8(1): 87-116; and Eileen McDonagh, "Representative Democracy and State Building in the Progressive Era." American Political Science Review 1992 86(4): 938-950.
  22. ^ Jensen (1971) ch 5.[Full citation needed]
  23. ^ Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2007.
  24. ^ Lerner, Michael A. Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City, Harvard University Press, 2007 p.96-97
  25. ^ Us Americanization –American National Identify and Ideologies of Americanization
  26. ^ a b Okrent, Daniel. (2010). Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-7432-7702-3. OCLC 419812305
  27. ^ E.g., "The Economics of War Prohibition", pp. 143-144 in: Survey Associates, Inc., The Survey, Volume 38, April–September, 1917.
  28. ^ Kyvig, David E: "Women Against Prohibition." American Quarterly. 28, no. 4 (Autumn, 1976), 465-482.
  29. ^ Bousfield, Arthur; Toffoli, Garry (1991). Royal Observations. Toronto: Dundurn Press Ltd.. p. 41. ISBN 1-55002-076-5. Retrieved 7 March 2010. 
  30. ^ Appel, Jacob M. "Physicians Are Not Bootleggers: The Short, Peculiar Life of the Medicinal Alcohol Movement." The Bulletin of the History of Medicine (Summer, 2008)
  31. ^ 56 agents killed between 1920 and 1927
  32. ^ 34 agents killed between 1930 and 1934
  33. ^ Friedrich, Otto; Gorey, Hays (February 1, 1982). "F.D.R.'s Disputed Legacy". Time.,9171,954983-6,00.html. Retrieved May 22, 2010. 
  34. ^ Reeve, W. Paul, "Prohibition Failed to Stop the Liquor Flow in Utah". Utah History to Go. (First published in History Blazer, February 1995)
  35. ^ Report on the Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws of the United States. National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. Dated January 7th 1931 "Bad Features of the Present Situation and Difficulties in the Way of Enforcement
  36. ^ New York Times, 50,000 barrels ready in St Louis, March 23rd 1933
  37. ^ Prohibition, Repeal, and Historical Cycles, Dwight B Heath, Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies
  38. ^ Burkhart, Jeff (2010). "The Great Experiment: Prohibition Continues". National Geographic Assignment. Retrieved 2010-11-20. 
  39. ^ 18 USC, § 1154
  40. ^ Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (March 1, 2008). "Survey of American Indian alcohol statutes, 1975-2006: evolving needs and future opportunities for tribal health". 
  41. ^ Letter on Prohibition - see Daniel Okrent, Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center, New York: Viking Press, 2003. (pp.246/7).
  42. ^ Kee, Howard Clark. Christianity : A Social and Cultural History. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.p. 486
  43. ^ Thomas, George M. Revivalism and Cultural Change : Christianity, Nation Building, and the Market in the Nineteenth-Century United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.p.65
  44. ^ Koester, Nancy. Fortress Introduction to the History of Christianity in the United States. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007. p. 154.
  45. ^ Organized Crime - American Mafia, Law Library - American Law and Legal Information
  46. ^ Report on the Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws of the United States. National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement. Dated January 7th 1931
  47. ^ Charles Hanson Towne, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition: The Human Side of What the Eighteenth Amendment Has Done to the United States (New York: Macmillan, 1923) p.159-162
  48. ^ Blum, Deborah. "The Chemist's War: The Little-told Story of how the U.S. Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition, with Deadly Consequences", Slate. Washington Post, Feb. 2010. Web. 19 Feb. 2010.
  49. ^ a b c d e Lusk, Rufus S. "The Drinking Habit". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Volume: 163. Prohibition: A National Experiment. September, 1932. 46-52.
  50. ^ Oldham, Scott. "NASCAR Turns 50." Popular Mechanics. Hearst Communications, Aug. 1998. Web. 23 Nov. 2009.
  51. ^ "NASCAR, an Overview - Part 1." Google. Web. 22 Nov. 2009.
  52. ^ Willing, Joseph K. "The Profession of Bootlegging". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Volume: 125. Modern Crime: Its Prevention and Punishment. May, 1926. 40-48.
  53. ^ Erenberg, Lewis A. Swingin' the Dream : Big Band Jazz and the Rebirth of American Culture (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press), 1998.
  54. ^ Bureau of Prohibition, Statistics Concerning Intoxicating Liquors. Washington: Government Printing Office. 1930. pp. 2. 
  55. ^ a b c Blocker, Jr., Jack S. (February 2006). "Did Prohibition Really Work?". American Journal of Public Health 96 (2): 233–243. 
  56. ^ "Interview With Dr. James M. Doran." Popular Science Monthly, November 1930, interview with Prohibition Commissioner, see p. 147
  57. ^ Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible, pp.630-631.
  58. ^ Time magazine article from 1931 on wine bricks
  59. ^ Burnham, Kelsey (2010-04-18). "Prohibition in Wine Country". Napa Valley Register. 
  60. ^ The Jazz Age: The American 1920s - Prohibition Digital History


  • Ken Burns, Lynn Novick (October 2011). Prohibition. PBS. ISBN 978-1-608834303. OCLC 738476083. 
  • Kingsdale, Jon M. "The 'Poor Man's Club': Social Functions of the Urban Working-Class Saloon," American Quarterly vol. 25 (October, 1973): 472-89.
  • Kyvig; David E. Law, Alcohol, and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition Greenwood Press, 1985.
  • Mark Lender, editor, Dictionary of American Temperance Biography Greenwood Press, 1984
  • Miron, Jeffrey A. and Jeffrey Zwiebel. “Alcohol Consumption During Prohibition.” American Economic Review 81, no. 2 (1991): 242-247.
  • Miron, Jeffrey A. "Alcohol Prohibition" Eh.Net Encyclopedia (2005)
  • Moore, L.J. Historical interpretation of the 1920s Klan: the traditional view and the popular revision. Journal of Social History, 1990, 24 (2), 341-358.
  • Sellman; James Clyde. "Social Movements and the Symbolism of Public Demonstrations: The 1874 Women's Crusade and German Resistance in Richmond, Indiana" Journal of Social History. Volume: 32. Issue: 3. 1999. pp 557+.
  • Rumbarger; John J. Profits, Power, and Prohibition: Alcohol Reform and the Industrializing of America, 1800–1930, State University of New York Press, 1989.
  • Sinclair; Andrew. Prohibition: The Era of Excess 1962.
  • Timberlake, James. Prohibition and the Progressive Movement, 1900–1920 Harvard University Press, 1963.
  • Tracy, Sarah W. and Caroline Jean Acker; Altering American Consciousness: The History of Alcohol and Drug Use in the United States, 1800–2000. University of Massachusetts Press, 2004
  • Victor A. Walsh, "'Drowning the Shamrock': Drink, Teetotalism and the Irish Catholics of Gilded-Age Pittsburgh," Journal of American Ethnic History vol. 10, no. 1-2 (Fall 1990-Winter 1991): 60-79.
  • Lusk, Rufus S. "The Drinking Habit". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Volume: 163. Prohibition: A National Experiment. September, 1932. 46-52.
  • Willing, Joseph K. "The Profession of Bootlegging". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Volume: 125. Modern Crime: Its Prevention and Punishment. May, 1926. 40-48.
  • Hopkins, Richard J. "The Prohibition and Crime". The North American Review. Volume: 222. Number: 828. September, 1925. 40-44.

Further reading

  • Behr, Edward. (1996). Prohibition: Thirteen Years That Changed America. New York: Arcade Publishing. ISBN 1-55970-356-3.
  • Burns, Eric. (2003). The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-59213-214-6.
  • Clark, Norman H. (1976). Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York: Norton. ISBN 0-393-05584-1.
  • Kahn, Gordon, and Al Hirschfeld. (1932, rev. 2003). The Speakeasies of 1932. New York: Glenn Young Books. ISBN 1-55783-518-7.
  • Kobler, John. (1973). Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons. ISBN 0-399-11209-X.
  • Lerner, Michael A. (2007). Dry Manhattan: Prohibition in New York City. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02432-X.
  • Murdoch, Catherine Gilbert. (1998). Domesticating Drink: Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870-1940. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-5940-9.
  • Okrent, Daniel. (2010). Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0-7432-7702-3. OCLC 419812305
  • Peck, Garrett. (2009). The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America from Demon Rum to Cult Cabernet. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-4592-7.
  • Pegram, Thomas R. (1998). Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-208-0.
  • Waters, Harold. (1971). Smugglers of Spirits: Prohibition and the Coast Guard Patrol. New York: Hastings House. ISBN 0-8038-6705-0.

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