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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

America Gone Dry

This Day in History: January 16, 1919 & January 17, 1920

Anti-Saloon League paper, The American Issue, with headline,
"U.S. Is Voted Dry", Anti-Saloon League Museum

It was the beginning of an America gone dry but why?

Before Prohibition...

George Greisser, brew master for
Reisch Brewery before prohibition
(Photograph from Sangamon Valley Collection,
Lincoln Library, Springfield, Illinois.)
By 1830, alcohol was consumed as regularly as water, or close to it any way, maybe even more so depending upon the area. Saloons flourished. Alcohol consumption was not limited to 21 years and older either. The average American over 15 years old consumed nearly seven gallons of pure alcohol a year. In addition, alcohol abuse was wreaking havoc on the lives of many people, individuals and families. With women having few legal rights, men were primarily the ones consuming the large quantities of alcohol.

The first anti-alcohol movement grew out of a fervor for reform when abolitionists were trying to rid the country of slavery, a time when excessive alcohol consumption was viewed upon as an equally great evil. Their aim was to rid the country of sinurge drinking in moderation, help others resist temptation (especially the youth), demand prohibition of alcohol outright! [Sounds a lot like today, doesn't it?]

Congress certified the ratification of the 18th Amendment on January 16, 1919 thereby prohibiting the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors. The amendment actually took effect at 12:01 AM on January 17, 1920. 

Prohibitionists rejoiced that at long last, America had become officially, and (they hoped) irrevocably, dry. But just a few minutes later, six masked bandits with pistols emptied two freight cars full of whiskey from a rail yard in Chicago, another gang stole four casks of grain alcohol from a government bonded warehouse, and still another hijacked a truck carrying whiskey.

And that was just the beginning...

Americans were about to discover that making Prohibition the law of the land had been one thing; enforcing it would be another.
Source: Roots of Prohibition

During Prohibition...

The Prohibition era lasted from 1920 through 1933, and was an attempt to legislate morality. It took a Constitutional amendment to enact it, and another one to repeal it. The attempt to decrease the "evils" of alcohol actually created more - and new - types of crime.

Read MORE about The Prohibition Era...

National History Day: Triumph and Tragedy

Detroit police inspecting equipment
found in a clandestine underground brewery during the Prohibition era.
Picture courtesy of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
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.
Photo Credit: mosbergowners
Happy days are here again!
Photo Credit: mosbergowners
After Prohibition was repealed, it was left up to the states to decide how to govern alcohol consumption. Most states made 21 the legal drinking age, although a handful required drinkers to be only 18. No national drinking age existed until 1984, when the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed. One major catalyst behind the creation of this law was the increase in deaths related to drunk driving
Source: How Prohibition Worked
Related Article:

Check out this cool photo: Some History
"Alcohol, discovered by Prohibition agents during a raid on an illegal distillery, pours out of upper windows of three-story storefront in Detroit during Prohibition, 1929” (Retronaut)