American Prohibition began with the incorporation of the 18th Amendment
of the United States Constitution
and ended with the 21st Amendment, which repealed
the 18th. The 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919, while the 21st was ratified in 1933. The 18th Amendment officially outlawed the sale, manufacturing, and transportation of alcohol
. Here is the full text of the 18th Amendment:
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
Section 2. The Congress and the several states shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
This law was enacted by the United States government because of the rapid growth of saloons. The brewing industry began booming in the 19th century, and saloons started popping up on every street corner of the United States. The industry was very competitive, and soon saloons became infamous for debauchery, prostitution, and gambling. Concerned citizens were worried that the United States would turn into a nation of alcoholics. In response to this the Anti-Saloon League and many other temperance organizations were formed. The Anti-Saloon League started in Ohio, but quickly gained a lot of support and became the biggest national temperance movement. The Anti-Saloon League and other movements put an increasing amount of pressure on state and federal governments, and the end result was the Eighteenth Amendment.
Prohibition was very effective in its early years. Most saloons were closed down and the consumption of alcohol decreased. The only way to obtain alcohol legally during Prohibition was to obtain a prescription from a physician. Though illegal methods of obtaining alcohol were already appearing, the government was very committed to the policy of Prohibition.
Prohibition was tolerated by the American public for a few years before many people started becoming bitter. Bootlegging became popular and America saw the roots of organized crime, based around the sale of alcohol. Though the saloons of old had disappeared, people were bringing alcohol into their homes very often. The notion of sobriety for a good cause began dying out. People wanted to legalize the consumption of alcohol again. As much pressure as there had been to prohibit alcohol in 1919, there was even more to restore the legality of alcohol consumption during the late twenties and early thirties. Here is the complete text of the 21st Amendment to the Consitution:
Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.
After Prohibition ended, the rate of consumption of alcohol took a few years to reach a high level. Americans' views on alcohol had changed completely over more than a decade. Instead of going out to a saloon, Americans would often drink at home. Prohibition had a huge effect on the drinking culture of the United States.