40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition
40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition

40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition

Khalid Elhassan - December 2, 2019

40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition
Ratification map chart. Distillery Trail

2. Ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment

As Prohibition’s advocates had predicted, the lower population and more rural states were the quickest to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment. The exceptions were Connecticut and Rhode Island, both of which had a majority Catholic population, and both of which refused to ratify.

Their votes were neither missed nor needed, as the prohibitionists ran up the score in the legislatures of other small and rural states. On January 16th, 1919, Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, when its lower house voted in favor 98-0. It was official, and Prohibition was automatically scheduled to go into effect a year later.

40 Historical Markers on the Road to Prohibition
Prohibition agents destroying barrels of booze. Wikimedia

1. Prohibition Did Not Prohibit the Drinking of Alcohol

The Eighteenth Amendment did not prohibit the consumption of alcohol, only its manufacture, sale, and transportation. It was quite legal for people to drink up in their own homes, and in the year’s grace period between the ratification of Prohibition and it is going into effect, Americans rushed to stockpile as much booze as they could, in anticipation of the dry days to come.

For the wealthy, Prohibition was not much of an inconvenience. They had the means to purchase more liquor and wine than they could consume in a lifetime, and they had the cellar space in their various residences in which to store their alcohol. For average Americans of average means, it was a different story. Satisfying their demand for booze, the Eighteenth Amendment be damned, made the thirteen years of Prohibition one of the most fascinating eras of American history – but that is a story for another day.


Where Did We Find This Stuff? Some Sources and Further Reading

Aaron, Paul, and Musto, David – Temperance and Prohibition in America: An Historical Overview (1981)

Behr, Edward – Prohibition: Thirteen Yeas That Changed America (1996)

Burns, Eric – The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol (2003)

Encyclopedia Britannica – Anti Saloon League

Encyclopedia Britannica – Prohibition

Encyclopedia Britannica – Temperance Movement

Foster, Gaines M. – Moral Reconstruction: Christian Lobbyists and the Federal Legislation of Morality (2002)

Kobler, John – Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (1973)

Murdoch, Catherine Gilbert – Domesticating Drink: Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870 – 1940 (1998)

New York Times, January 19th, 2019 – How the Klan Fueled Prohibition

Ohio History Central – Temperance Movement

Orkent, Daniel – Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010)

PBS – Prohibition: Anti Saloon League

Sismondo, Christine – America Walks Into a Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops (2011)

Smithsonian Magazine, December 27th, 2017 – Three Things to Know About Radical Prohibitionist Carrie A. Nation

Walsh, Victor A., Journal of American Ethnic History vol. 10 no. 1-2 (Fall 1990 – Winter 1991) – Drowning the Shamrock: Drink, Teetotalism and the Irish Catholics of Gilded Age Pittsburgh

Wikipedia – Prohibition in the United States

Smithsonian Magazine – The Modern Craft Cocktail Movement Got Its Start During Prohibition

Paste Magazine – The 1800s: When Americans Drank Whiskey Like it was Water

History – 7 Things You Might Not Know About the Women’s Suffrage Movement

BBC – Prohibition: US Activists Fight for Temperance 100 Years On

Bill of Rights Institution – Was Prohibition a Success or a Failure?

Constitution Daily – Five Interesting Facts About Prohibition’s End In 1933

Vine Pair – For Some States, Prohibition Didn’t End When the 21st Amendment Passed