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Drugs, Alcohol, Prohibition

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Essay title: Drugs, Alcohol, Prohibition

Drugs, Alcohol, and Prohibition

Although National Prohibition did not take effect in the 1920’s, there were a series of laws that attempted to restrict alcohol consumption. Such as the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act.

In 1697, the first American alcohol law was passed in New York. The law stated that all saloons must be closed on Sunday, because Sunday was a day of worship.

In 1735, the first statewide prohibition began in the state of Georgia. This was a complete failure and was quickly banned seven years later, in 1742.

In 1851, Maine was the second state in the history of America to attempt statewide prohibition, and it turned out to be a major success. By 1855, 12 more had joined Maine in becoming dry. These were the most successful alcohol prohibition laws passed in the United States.

In 1880, after the Civil War, women joined the dries and and soon the temperance movement was back in full force. Many prohibitions were proposed afterwards, such as, drugs, tobacco, and the closing of theaters, but the only one to ever catch on was alcohol.

By 1900, more than half the United States had become dry. The prohibitionists thought there was no possible way for any person to get liquor in a dry state. Unfortunately, for the dry states, there was a loophole, the postal service. Because the postal service was run by the federal government, and not the state government, liquor could be mail ordered from a wet state. This infuriated the dries, and in 1913 the Interstate Liquor Act was passed. This act made it impossible for liquor to be sold to any dry state. This was actually a loss for the dry states because this made methods of getting liquor illegal and the liquor industry soon went hand in hand with crime. Also the government got taxes.

In 1917, the 18th amendment was proposed to ban the manufacture of liquor. Many states did not agree on this causing this proposal to be in debate for almost 2 years.

By 1920, 33 states had voted themselves dry. Then the movement for national prohibition was passed. The Prohibition Party had finally won its biggest victory yet.

January 29, 1919 the 18th amendment was ratified and and only liquor with 40% alcohol content, (80 proof) were banned. Officially it banned the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors… for beverage purposes.” Many people supported this act, thinking that is was only banning hard liquors, and thinking that a glass of wine with dinner or a beer after work would be fine. The Amendment took effect one year later on January 29, 1920. However, in October of 1919, the Volstead Act was passed. The Volstead Act banned all alcohol that had 1/2 % alcohol content. This effectively banned all forms of alcoholic beverages, with the exception of some non-alcoholic beers.

After the 18th amendment was ratified, the Volstead Act was brought into the light by the prohibition supporters. Many of the original supporters of the 18th amendment were left empty handed and felt betrayed.

Another group that felt betrayed were the World War I Veterans, returning home from France and had seen first hand that alcohol in modest quantities could be mixed with everyday life. Coming home from the war and finding out those evangelists, reformers, and dries had won a total victory added to bitterness of the veterans.

All In all, the dries came out of the woodwork and won the battle for prohibition.

The fatal mistake was to ban all types of alcohol, which lost the Prohibition Party and most of it’s’ followers.

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