Saturday, December 5, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again! The End of Prohibition

For most of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many people believed that one of the greatest threats to society was the consumption of alcohol. Men and women of different origins and creeds stood united by the belief that society's ills were caused by alcohol consumption. They thought that if the United States could prohibit the sale of alcohol, then crime, drunkenness, domestic violence and corruption would all magically disappear from society. Many religious groups used the fervor normally reserved for their faith to tell the world about the evils of alcohol. Check out this 1920s era prohibition meeting which warns that alcohol has the power to, among other things, entice young girls into honky tonks.

Due to the devoted efforts of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and other groups, prohibition became a reality in 1919 with the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution. However, the twelve years of prohibition merely drove the production and consumption of alcohol underground, allowing organized crime to flourish. Crime was on the rise and the government had to struggle to reign it in. All the advocates of prohibition never saw that coming. The women’s groups that had once worked to end the sale of alcohol eventually reconsidered and formed groups that called for the amendment’s repeal. Their efforts carried greater weight as they had gained the right to vote in the years since the passage of prohibition. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran for president on the Democratic ticket in 1932, he ran on a platform that called for the repeal of prohibition. Beginning in 1933, the states began to ratify the 21st amendment which repealed the 18th amendment. The amendment was fully ratified on December 5, 1933. Check out this newsreel from 1933 which boasts that the repeal of prohibition will create new jobs, a particularly enticing idea during the Great Depression (and now).

This is not a date that I think of often, but there is a group out there looking to make December 5th, or Repeal Day, a national holiday. You can check out their site and take a look at their reasoning here.

Happy Repeal Day!

[Images via blogadilla, blogcdn and winedude]

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