Gangsters thrive under the Volstead Act of 1919
Following the passage of the 18th Amendment, the federal ban on production and sale of alcohol, government passed enforcement legislation. The National Prohibition Act of 1919, called the Volstead Act for the chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Minnesota representative Andrew Volstead, defined the process and procedures government could use to enforce Prohibition. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, but Congress voted to override Wilson’s veto. Breweries officially shut down their alcohol divisions – at least on paper, although there were plenty of breweries covertly producing beverages. Bars and restaurants quickly sold off their liquor supply and went “dry.” Distributors had to find another market. Partying moved underground to speakeasies and hidden clubs. People who were normally law-abiding became criminals by buying a case of beer or making it in their homes. A new avenue of revenue opened up for the criminal realm. And St. Paul welcomed them all.