On this day in 1919, prohibition took effect.
Prohibition, or rather, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibited “the ‘manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes.'”
The amendment was the result of years of the Temperance movement gaining steam and eventually political power. Those within that movement blamed society’s ills on alcohol. They thought they’d get their “perfect world” if alcohol was eliminated.
In fact, the opposite occurred. During the 13 years of prohibition, America saw prevalent organized crime. People capitalized on the high level of demand for alcohol and found ways to get it into the country and into the hands of citizens via secret bars known as speakeasies.
According to About Education, “the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression started changing people’s opinion. People needed jobs. The government needed money. Making alcohol legal again would open up many new jobs for citizens and additional sales taxes for the government.”
So in 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, which repealed prohibition. This was the first and only time in U.S. history that an amendment has been repealed.