Sometimes, after a long hard day at work, you like to relax with a glass of wine, or maybe even bourbon. Without the ratification of the 21st Amendment, the people of the United States wouldn’t be able to enjoy any alcoholic beverages. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1919, outlawing the sale of alcoholic beverages and brining in the period known as Prohibition. At the time, the top Prohibitionist in Congress stated: “There is as much chance as repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail” (“Repeal”). The 18th was the only Amendment to ever be repealed, through the 21st Amendment, in 1933. (“Prohibition” 2014). Prohibition was brought about to outlaw all alcohol, and the destructive behavior surrounding it. The law backfired, sending the U.S. into a downward spiral; but repealing the amendment actually saved our country. As journalist H.L. Mencken wrote in 1925:
Five years after prohibition have had, at least this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons . . . that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for the law has not increased but diminished (“Repeal”).
Prohibition, during the 1920’s, was the outlaw of manufacturing, transportation, and sale of all intoxicating liquors, which was anything that had an alcohol content of more than 0.5% (Evans). This law was seen as a “quick fix” to rid the United States of all poverty and crime; the main goal of Prohibition was to abolish the all-male saloons that were seen as “destructive & ungodly” and to help Americans stop abusing alcohol (Evans). The one thing that the law didn’t ban was the consumption of these beverages, so while the saloons were closing their doors, speakeasies were just getting started. Since speakeasies were already illegal, operators didn’t mind who they served; these underground jazz clubs were filled with teenagers and adolescents (“Repeal”). This brought a lot of worry to the women of the U.S. with children. Pauline Sabin, founder of Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, stated at a Congressional hearing:
In preprohibition days, mothers had little to fear in regard to the saloon as far as their children were concerned. A saloon-keepers license would be revoked if he was caught selling to minors. Today in any speakeasy in the United States you can find boys and girls in their teens drinking liquor and this situation has become so acute that the mothers of the country feel something must be done to protect their children (“Repeal”).
There was also an easier, legal, way people got their alcohol after Prohibition...