Prohibition Amendment

Amending the US Constitution isn't easy, but when there's enough support around an idea, big things can happen.  The passion and long-term commitment of many Americans to address concerns of alcohol use and abuse resulted in one of the most impactful alterations to the U.S. Constitution - twice!  Along the way, criminal behavior spiked and many questioned the bold amendment to the Constitution.  Let's explore the key dates, provisions, meaning, and impact of the Prohibition Amendment and its eventual repeal during a difficult time in America.

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Prohibition originated with a popular movement, then moved to a long legislative process before circulating through the states for ratification.

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Prohibition was legal during which of the following events?

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Hundreds of thousand of illegal bars that opened across America during Prohibition were called.....

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Which of the following sets of events is in the correct, chronological order?

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Prohibition had connections to organized crime, jazz music and flappers.

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The 18th Amendment started Prohibition. It was passed by Congress in 1918, ratified by the states in 1920 and went into effect in 1933.

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The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition.


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Prohibition banned all the following, except which?

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This movement fought for moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages.

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Which amendment repealed the Prohibition on alcohol?

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The ban on alcohol was a social and legal reorganization of America that had significant impacts on crime, culture, and entertainment.  Many called it a ______ experiment.


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  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Prohibition originated with a popular movement, then moved to a long legislative process before circulating through the states for ratification.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Prohibition was legal during which of the following events?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Hundreds of thousand of illegal bars that opened across America during Prohibition were called.....

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Which of the following sets of events is in the correct, chronological order?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Prohibition had connections to organized crime, jazz music and flappers.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The 18th Amendment started Prohibition. It was passed by Congress in 1918, ratified by the states in 1920 and went into effect in 1933.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition.


Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Prohibition banned all the following, except which?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

This movement fought for moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages.

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

Which amendment repealed the Prohibition on alcohol?

Show Answer
  • + Add tag
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology
  • Mo

The ban on alcohol was a social and legal reorganization of America that had significant impacts on crime, culture, and entertainment.  Many called it a ______ experiment.


Show Answer

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Table of contents

    Prohibition: The 18th Amendment

    The 18th Amendment, known as the Prohibition Amendment, was a result of a long fight for temperance. The temperance movement sought "moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages ." Practically speaking, advocates sought a ban on alcohol.

    Many activists and groups including women voters, progressives, and Protestant Christians worked over many decades to ban products viewed as harmful and dangerous to the nation. Groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Association, the Anti-Saloon League, and the American Temperance Society actively lobbied Congress in a nearly 100-year campaign. It is one of the most significant examples of American women utilizing political power.

    During the Progressive Era, concerns grew over alcohol abuse. Major concerns included domestic violence, poverty, unemployment, and lost productivity as American industrialization developed. The goal of banning the sale of alcohol was called a “Noble Experiment”. The ban was a social and legal reorganization of America that had significant impacts on crime, culture, and entertainment.

    Prohibition Amendment, The Sheriff of Orange Country, California, dumping bootleg booze, c. 1925, StudySmarter Fig. 1 The Sheriff of Orange Country, California, dumping bootleg booze c. 1925

    Key Dates of the Prohibition Amendment

    DateEvent

    December 18, 1917

    18th Amendment passed by Congress
    January 16, 191918th Amendment ratified by the states
    January 16, 1920Prohibition of alcohol went into effect
    February 20, 193321st Amendment passed by Congress
    December 5, 193321st Amendment ratified by the states

    Prohibition of Alcohol Amendment

    The text of the Prohibition Amendment spells out the illegal activities related to alcohol in Section 1. Section 2 allocates enforcement responsibility, while Section 3 references the constitutional requirements of an amendment.

    Text of the 18th Amendment

    Section 1 of the 18th Amendment

    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. "

    Did you know that drinking alcohol was technically not banned by the 18th Amendment? But since one could not legally purchase, make, or transport alcohol, consumption outside of the home was effectively illegal. Many Americans also stockpiled alcohol supplies in the one-year interim before the Amendment took effect.

    Section 2 of the 18th Amendment

    The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

    Section 2 provides for additional legislation to appropriate funding and direct law enforcement on the federal level to carry out the law. Importantly, the individual states were tasked with state-level enforcement and regulations.

    Section 3 of the 18th Amendment

    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 section spelled out the timeline for ratification and ensured action must be taken at the state level to complete the process.

    The Meaning and Effects of the Prohibition Amendment

    During the "roaring" 1920s, an entertainment revolution centered around cinema & radio, and jazz clubs took hold in America. During this decade, the 18th Amendment ushered in a period known as Prohibition, during which alcohol sales, manufacture, and transport were illegal.

    The period of Prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 and criminalized the actions of many citizens. It was illegal to produce, transport, or sell alcohol, making purchasing it illegal. The 18th Amendment ushered in Prohibition, a failed national experiment that was repealed through the 21st Amendment.

    Prohibition and Crime

    The Prohibition of alcohol led to an increase in criminal activity and organized crime. Mafia bosses such as Al Capone profited from the illegal production and sale of alcoholic beverages. Many Americans became criminals involved in transporting and selling alcohol to meet the continuing demand. Rates of imprisonment, violent crime and drunk and disorderly conduct rose dramatically.

    The relationship between organized crime and the culture of the Roaring Twenties is striking. The Jazz Age was bankrolled by organized crime in that speakeasies and jazz bands were often owned or paid by the crime rings profiting off Prohibition. The spread of jazz music, the habits of flappers and related dances were directly connected with the illegal sale of alcohol nationally.

    Prohibition Enforcement

    The difficulties of enforcement of the 18th Amendment emerged quickly, despite the one year transition period between ratification and enforcement. Here's an overview of the challenges enforcing the Prohibition Amendment:

    • Clarifying the federal v. state roles was an obstacle
    • Many states chose to allow the federal government to act on enforcement
    • Differentiating between legal alcohol (religious use and doctor-prescribed)
    • Lack of sufficient resources (officers, funding)
    • Mass usage in a physically massive country with a large population
    • Illegal manufacturing facilities (moonshine stills, "bathtub gin")
    • Bars became hard to locate as hundreds of thousands of underground "speakeasies" existed across America
    • Intercepting alcohol shipments from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe stretched enforcement resources on coastal regions and land borders

    Did you know it is estimated that there were between 30,000 and 100,000 speakeasies in N.Y.C. alone by 1925? A speakeasy was an illegal bar that operated under cover of another business or establishment. The fear of government raids resulted in a caution to "speak easy" to avoid detection.

    The Volstead Act

    Congress passed the Volstead Act to enforce the ban on alcohol on October 28, 1919. The law set limits on the types of alcohol covered and allowed exemptions for religious and medicinal use and permitted home manufacturing for personal consumption. Low-level offenders could still face up to 6 months in prison and up to $1000 in fines. The Treasury Department was given authority for enforcement, but Treasury agents were unable to supervise a national ban on the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol.

    Repeal of the Prohibition Amendment

    In the campaign to repeal the 18th Amendment, many business owners, government officials, and women were vocal. The Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform argued that the level of crime and corruption was a moral attack on American families and the nation. A new goal to repeal the 18th Amendment sprang up.

    repeal = the legislative act of revoke a law or policy.

    The Stock Market Crash of 1929 led to the Great Depression. During a time of poverty, sorrow, unemployment and economic loss, many people turned to alcohol. A common belief was that citizens should not be criminalized for seeking alcohol during the worst economic period in American history. This contributed to the general unpopularity of the effects of Prohibition.

    The various states and the federal government watched as tax revenue dropped due to sales of alcohol, alcohol-related income sources, and businesses conducted all operations 'under the table'.

    The most important factor leading to the repeal of Prohibition was the difficulty in enforcing the Amendment. The challenge in enforcing the law at the federal level was combined with the inability and unwillingness to do so at the state level. Finally, backlash grew over the criminalization of many citizens who were engaging in previously legal conduct.

    Prohibition Amendment, Faded lettering reading "Vote Against Prohibition" on a building in Baltimore, Maryland, StudySmarter

    The 21st Amendment to repeal the Prohibition Amendment

    The text of the 21st Amendment is straightforward in its repeal of the 18th Amendment.

    Section 1 of the 21st Amendment

    The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed."

    Section 2 of the 21st Amendment

    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 of the 21st Amendment

    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."

    What were the 19th and 20th Amendments? In the intervening years, the nation historically amended the Constitution to grant women the right to vote nationally with the 19th Amendment. Passed in 1919 and ratified in 1920, this monumental change to the Constitution was followed by the less impactful 20th amendment (passed in 1932 and ratified in 1933) that changed the beginning and ending dates of congressional and presidential terms.

    Prohibition Amendment - Key takeaways

    • The 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol in 1920.
    • Prohibition had a profound impact on society, resulting in a dramatic increase in crime.
    • The Jazz Age, flappers, and other notable components of the 1920s were directly related to the effects of Prohibition.
    • Enforcement of Prohibition was organized federally with the Volstead Act.
    • Enforcement of Prohibition was challenging due to a lack of resources and the relationship between federal and state agencies.
    • The 21st Amendment repealed the Prohibition Amendment in 1933

    References

    1. Merriam-Webster dictionary.
    2. Fig 1. Sheriff dumps bootleg booze.jpg by Unknown photographer, Orange County Archives (https://www.flickr.com/photos/ocarchives/) licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) on Wikimedia Commons.
    3. Fig 2. Vote Against Prohibition Building Baltimore.jpg (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vote_Against_Prohibition_Building_Baltimore.jpg) by Dean Beeler (https://www.flickr.com/people/70379677@N00) licensed by CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) on Wikimedia Commons.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Prohibition Amendment

    What is the Prohibition Amendment?

    The Prohibition Amendment is the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    What did the Prohibition 18th Amendment do?

    The 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, sale and transport of alcoholic beverages

    Which amendment repealed Prohibition?

    The 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition.

    What amendment started Prohibition?

    The 18th Amendment started Prohibition.  It was passed by Congress in 1917, ratified by the states in 1919 and went into effect in 1920.

    When did Prohibition end?

    Prohibition ended in 1933 when the 21st Amendment was passed and ratified.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Prohibition originated with a popular movement, then moved to a long legislative process before circulating through the states for ratification.

    Prohibition was legal during which of the following events?

    Which of the following sets of events is in the correct, chronological order?

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