On December 5th, National Repeal Day commemorates the day Prohibition ended in the United States.
Prohibition grew out a practice of moderation rooted in the Protestant churches in America. By the 1830s, consumption of alcohol, especially hard spirits, was affecting the nation. Most participants were male. Those who supported who joined the Temperance movement saw alcohol as the root of all evil. The movement took hold at a time when women had few rights, and the country was debating slavery. Ethics and mores were changing. The Temperance movement shifted the view on alcohol use from moderation to eradication.
The following decades would see organizations such as the Prohibition Party, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and Anti-Saloon League formed. By 1838, Tennessee would pass the first legislation prohibiting the sale of alcohol. Some new states would enter the union as dry states. In 1919, the 18th Amendment was ratified, banning the production, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. However, the legislation did not prohibit the consumption of such drinks.
The Amendment went into effect in 1920, and numerous businesses closed. Beyond the loss of brewers and bars, governments lost tax revenues. Additionally, the cost of enforcing prohibition was expensive. Those determined to produce, transport, and sell alcohol created a black market that crisscrossed the nation. Their illicit methods became notorious and the stuff of legend. In 1929, the stock market crashed.
During the years of Prohibition, use of the term “gangster” increased. The term “moonshine” reached its peak usage.
Prohibition’s “great experiment” was a significant failure. The term “bootlegger” would reach its peak usage as Prohibition neared the end of its lifespan. Congress proposed the 21st Amendment to the Constitution on February 20, 1933. The amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and was ratified on December 5 that year.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalRepealDay
Learn more about the history of the 18th and 21st Amendments. Drink your favorite cocktail. Try a new cocktail. Visit a speakeasy reminiscent of days gone by. While you do, be sure to invite friends to join you.
As always, drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Use #NationalRepealDay to share on social media.
NATIONAL REPEAL DAY HISTORY
The day Prohibition ended has been celebrated since 1933. Newspapers across the country reported repeal celebrations. Al Capone was even reported as praising the end of prohibition from his prison cell. Some areas postponed celebrations until the 6th, but distilleries geared up, ready for production.
In the last couple of generations, fascination with the Prohibition years, styles, and history has grown. Celebrating the 21st Amendment has increased.