Prohibition Anniversary is History in a Pint Glass
Today marks the 80 year anniversary of prohibition being lifted. Here’s a little history lesson to celebrate this momentous occasion in American history, an occasion in which we can happily raise our glasses together.
Prohibition began throughout the 1920’s and 30’s in the United States, a fiercely contested attempt by the government to control the consumption of alcohol. Although the intention was inherently good, banning drink altogether introduced a slew of other problems legislators did not entirely foresee. Ultimately the experiment would fail.
Religious groups initially pushed for the government to take action to further control the distribution of alcohol. The dry movement began picking up speed closer to 1880 due to aggressive campaigning like groups such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibition Party. Individual states began passing prohibition laws at the dawn of the new century.
Beer distributors helped dig their own graves by funding an advent of saloons across the country. Realizing they could increase profits by selling beer and liquor by the glass, bars became wildly popular along the American frontier. This popularity proved to help strengthen the movement to prohibit the availability of alcohol altogether.
The government eventually took drastic action by passing the 18th Amendment, making it illegal to manufacture or distribute alcohol in the United States. There was however a curious provision to the Amendment that allowed citizens to privately consume alcohol within their residence.
Alcohol consumption was markedly in decline following the legislation, giving opponents the law was a success. But as history has taught us time and again, where there’s a will – there’s a way. You almost have to tip your caps to the beer loving Americans who creatively discovered other methods to get their fix.
Liquor began coming ashore from territories including Mexico, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean, ensuring there were always quantities available. Savvy individuals even went about creating stores of their own ‘hooch’. Many more people turned to their local ‘speakeasy’, concealed saloons that distributed their illegal wares for thirsty patrons. Of course there was a good deal of organized crime that arose as a result of this complicated skirting of the law, the extent of which is often exaggerated when it comes to popular culture.
One of the first acts of the Roosevelt administration was to repeal the 18th Amendment, ending one of the driest periods in American history. Despite the sweeping change, some counties and towns have remained dry.
Since then, American beer laws have come a long way. Years later, president Jimmy Carter would re-regulate the beer industry in 1979. This would later prove a major factor in sparking the entire craft beer industry in America. Beer geeks, rejoice!