In the history of the United States, Prohibition, also known as The Noble Experiment, is the period from 1920-1933, during which the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol for consumption were banned nationally as mandated in the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Under substantial pressure from the temperance movement, the United States Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920. Some state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the 18th Amendment.
The "Volstead Act", the popular name for the National Prohibition Act, passed through Congress over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919 and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor. Though the Volstead Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, it did little to enforce the law. The illegal production and distribution of alcohol, or bootlegging, became rampant, and the national government did not have the means or desire to enforce every border, lake, river, and speakeasy in America. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.
Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages.
On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.
In general, informal social controls in the home and community helped maintain the expectation that the abuse of alcohol was unacceptable. "Drunkenness was condemned and punished, but only as an abuse of a God-given gift. Drink itself was not looked upon as culpable, any more than food deserved blame for the sin of gluttony. Excess was a personal indiscretion." When informal controls failed, there were always legal ones.
One of the foremost physicians of the late 18th century, Dr. Benjamin Rush argued in 1784 that the excessive use of alcohol was injurious to physical and psychological health (he believed in moderation rather than prohibition). Apparently influenced by Rush's widely discussed belief, about 200 farmers in a Connecticut community formed a temperance association in 1789. Similar associations were formed in Virginia in 1800 and New York in 1808. Within the next decade, other temperance organizations were formed in eight states, some being statewide organizations.
The prohibition, or "dry", movement began in the 1840s, spearheaded by pietistic religious denominations, especially the Methodists. The late 1800s saw the temperance movement broaden its focus from abstinence to all behavior and institutions related to alcohol consumption. Preachers such as Reverend Mark A. Matthews linked liquor-dispensing saloons with prostitution.
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Some successes were registered in the 1850s, including Maine's total ban on the manufacture and sale of liquor, adopted in 1851. However, the movement soon lost strength, and was marginalized during the American Civil War (1861-1865).
The issue was revived by Prohibition Party, founded in 1869, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1873. Despite its name, the latter group did not promote moderation or temperance but rather prohibition of alcohol. One of its methods to achieve that goal was education. It was believed that if it could "get to the children" it could create a "dry" sentiment leading to prohibition. (Supporters of prohibition were nicknamed "Dry"; opponents were called "Wet".)
In 1881, Kansas became the first state to outlaw alcoholic beverages in its Constitution, with Carrie Nation gaining notoriety for enforcing the provision herself by walking into saloons, scolding customers, and using her hatchet to destroy bottles of liquor. Nation recruited ladies as The Carry Nation Prohibition Group which Nation also led. Other activists enforced the cause by entering saloons, singing, praying, and urging saloon keepers to stop selling alcohol. Many other states, especially in the South, also enacted prohibition, along with many individual counties.
In the Progressive Era (1890-1920), hostility to saloons and their political influence became widespread, with the Anti-Saloon League superseding the Prohibition Party and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union as the most influential advocate of prohibition.
Prohibition was an important force in state and local politics from the 1840s through the 1930s. The political forces involved were ethnoreligious in character, as demonstrated by numerous historical studies. Prohibition was demanded by the "dries" — primarily pietistic Protestant denominations, especially the Methodists, Northern Baptists, Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, Disciples of Christ, Congregationalists, Quakers, and Scandinavian Lutherans. They identified saloons as politically corrupt and drinking as a personal sin. They were opposed by the "wets" — primarily liturgical Protestants (Episcopalians, German Lutherans) and Roman Catholics, who denounced the idea that the government should define morality. Even in the wet stronghold of New York City there was an active prohibition movement, led by Norwegian church groups and African-American labor activists who believed that Prohibition would benefit workers, especially African-Americans. Tea merchants and soda fountain manufacturers generally supported Prohibition, thinking a ban on alcohol would increase sales of their products.
In the 1916 presidential election, both Democratic incumbent Woodrow Wilson and Republican candidate Charles Evans Hughes ignored the Prohibition issue, as was the case with both parties' political platforms. Democrats and Republicans had strong wet and dry factions, and the election was expected to be close, with neither candidate wanting to alienate any part of his political base.
In January 1917, the 65th Congress convened, in which the dries outnumbered the wets by 140 to 64 in the Democratic party and 138 to 62 among Republicans. With America's declaration of war against Germany in April, German-Americans—a major force against prohibition—were widely discredited and their protests subsequently ignored.
A resolution calling for an amendment to accomplish nationwide Prohibition was introduced in Congress and passed by both houses in December 1917. On January 16, 1919, the Amendment was ratified by thirty-six of the forty-eight states. On October 28, 1919, the amendment was supplemented by the Volstead Act. Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment went into effect. A total of 1,520 Federal Prohibition agents (police) were given the task of enforcing the law.
Although it was highly controversial, Prohibition was widely supported by diverse groups. Progressives believed that it would improve society as generally did women, southerners, those living in rural areas and African-Americans. There were a few exceptions such as the Woman’s Organization for Prohibition Reform who fought against it. Will Rogers often joked about the southern pro-prohibitionists: "The South is dry and will vote dry. That is, everybody sober enough to stagger to the polls." Supporters of the Amendment soon became quite confident that it would not be repealed, to the point that one of its creators, Senator Morris Sheppard, joked that "there is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a humming-bird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail."
The issue of Prohibition became a highly controversial one among medical professionals, because alcohol was widely prescribed by physicians of the era for therapeutic purposes. Congress held hearings on the medicinal value of beer in 1921. Subsequently, physicians across the country lobbied for the repeal of Prohibition as it applied to medicinal liquors.
While the manufacture, sale, and transport of alcohol was illegal in the U.S., Section 29 of the Volstead Act allowed the making at home of wine and cider from fruit (but not beer). Up to 200 gallons per year could be made, and some vineyards grew grapes for home use. Also, one anomaly of the Act as worded was that it did not actually prohibit the consumption of alcohol; many people actually stockpiled wines and liquors for their own use in the latter part of 1919 before sales of alcohol became illegal the following January.
Alcoholic drinks were not always illegal in all neighboring countries. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or illegally imported to the U.S. The Detroit River, which forms part of the border with Canada, was notoriously difficult to control. Chicago became a haven for Prohibition dodgers during the time known as the Roaring Twenties. Many of Chicago's most notorious gangsters, including Al Capone and his enemy Bugs Moran, made millions of dollars through illegal alcohol sales. By the end of the decade Capone controlled all 10,000 speakeasies in Chicago and ruled the bootlegging business from Canada to Florida. Numerous other crimes, including theft and murder, were directly linked to criminal activities in Chicago and elsewhere in violation of prohibition.
As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, especially in the big cities, "Repeal" was eagerly anticipated. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of "3.2 beer" (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines. The original Volstead Act had defined "intoxicating beverage" as one with greater than 0.5% alcohol. Upon signing the amendment, Roosevelt made his famous remark; "I think this would be a good time for a beer." The Cullen-Harrison Act became law on April 7, 1933, and on April 8, 1933, Anheuser-Busch, inc. sent a team of Clydesdale horses to deliver a case of Budweiser to the White House. The Eighteenth Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933 with ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment. Despite the efforts of Heber J. Grant and the LDS Church, a Utah convention helped ratify the 21st Amendment. While Utah can be considered the deciding 36th state to ratify the Amendment and make it law, the day Utah passed the Amendment, both Pennsylvania and Ohio passed it as well.
Prohibition was a major blow for the alcohol industry and repeal was therefore a step towards the amelioration of one sector of the economy. A perfect example for this is the case of St Louis. The city had been one of the most important alcohol producers before prohibition started and was ready to take back its position as soon as possible. Its major brewery had "50,000 barrels" of beer ready to be sent in the cities since March 22nd. It was the first alcohol producer to refill the market but others followed and slowly allowed stores to obtain alcohol after of course having obtained a license. The restart of beer production allowed thousands of workers to find a job again and St Louis brewery was only one of many alcohol factories.
Prohibition created a black market that competed with the formal economy, which already was under pressure. Roosevelt was elected based on the New deal, which promised improvement to the economy that was only possible if the formal economy competed successfully against various economic forces, including the effects of prohibition's black market. This influenced his support for ratifying the 21st amendment, which repealed the 18th amendment that had established prohibition. 
The Twenty-first Amendment explicitly gives States the right to restrict or ban the purchase or sale of alcohol. This led to a patchwork of laws in which alcohol may be legally sold in some but not all towns or counties within a particular state. After repeal of the 18th amendment, some states continued to enforce prohibition laws. Mississippi, which had made alcohol illegal in 1907, was the last state to repeal Prohibition, in 1966. Kansas did not allow sale of liquor "by the drink" (on-premises) until 1987. To the present day, there are still numerous "dry" counties and towns in America that restrict or prohibit liquor sales. Additionally, many tribal governments prohibit alcohol on Indian reservations. Federal law also prohibits alcohol on Indian reservations, although this law is currently only enforced if there is a concomitant violation of local tribal liquor laws. The federal law prohibiting alcohol in Indian country pre-dates the Eighteenth Amendment. No constitutional changes were necessary prior to the passage of this law, as Indian Reservations have always been considered areas of direct federal jurisdiction.
Many social problems have been attributed to the Prohibition era. Mafia groups limited their activities to gambling and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging manifested in response to the effect of Prohibition. A profitable, often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. Stronger liquor surged in popularity because its potency made it more profitable to smuggle.
To prevent bootleggers from using industrial ethyl alcohol to produce illegal beverages, the government ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols. In response, bootleggers hired chemists who successfully renatured the alcohol to make it drinkable. As a response, the Treasury Department required manufacturers to add more deadly poisons, including the particularly deadly methyl alcohol. New York City medical examiners prominently opposed these policies because of the danger to human life. As many as 10,000 people died from drinking denatured alcohol before Prohibition ended.
Making alcohol at home was very common during Prohibition. Stores sold grape concentrate with warning labels that listed the steps that should be avoided to prevent the juice from fermenting into wine. Home-distilled hard liquor was referred to as “bathtub gin” in northern cities, and moonshine in the rural areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. These individuals transported the alcohol to eager customers in other towns and cities. Since selling privately distilled alcohol was illegal and not profitable for the government, the law relentlessly pursued these individuals . In response, the bootleggers of these southern states started creating their own souped-up and “stock-looking” cars by enhancing their cars’ engines and suspensions to have a faster vehicle. Having a faster vehicle during Prohibition, they presumed, would improve their chances of escaping and outrunning the government revenuers, and agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) law enforcement division of the United States Department of Justice. Thus, the term “Moonshine Runners” was born.
These stock-cars not only provided a clean get-away vehicle, but a means for recreational racing as well. Dirt tracks and unpatrolled roads in the area were ideal for racing. This newfound sport soon made it to Daytona beaches in the late 1930s, where the stock-cars were driven by admitted moonshine runners like Fonty Flock, Lee Petty, and Junior Johnson. 
The stock-cars and moonshine production were a part of southern culture even after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. The Prohibition Era, moonshine, stock-car racing and the subsequent growth of NASCAR has been captured in the media with movies such as Thunder Road in 1958, starring Robert Mitchum; Smokey and the Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds; the TV series The Dukes of Hazzard; and Days of Thunder starring Tom Cruise. All of these movies and TV shows demonstrate “southern guys in fast cars running illegal liquor." Since its start in the Prohibition Era and its first national network coverage on February 18, 1979 of the Daytona 500, NASCAR has become one of the fastest growing professional sports in the United States, with many “endorsements deals and millions in prize money."
As part of this "Moonshine Running" and manufacturing business in the South, Frayser, TN had one of the only establishments in the country that openly acted as a bar. Built in 1929, Harpo's on Hwy 51, became somewhat of a legend due to the fact that Law Enforcement would not go into the bar, not because of pay-offs, but because they were afraid to. The infamous, "State Line Mob" and others such as the "Dixie Mafia", provided the alcohol that Harpo's flagrantly served to any traveler brave enough to venture into it's dark interior. Violence was a daily part of Harpo's, but the bar never closed and still operates today. The movie "Road House (1989 film)", as well as the story of Buford Pusser, contain references to Harpo's and it's violent nature built around alcohol sales and use.
The Prohibition also had a large effect on the music industry in the United States, specifically the jazz industry. Speakeasies became far more popular during that time and the effects of the Great Depression caused a migration that led to a greater dispersal of jazz music. Movement began from New Orleans and went through Chicago and north to New York. This also meant developing different styles in the different cities. Because of its popularity in the speakeasies and the development of more advanced recording devices, jazz became very popular very fast. It was also at the forefront of the minimal integration efforts going on at the time, as it united mostly black musicians with mostly white crowds.
The cost of enforcing Prohibition was high, and the lack of tax revenues on alcohol (some $500 million annually nationwide) affected government coffers.
When repeal of Prohibition occurred in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits in most states (states still had the right to enforce their own laws concerning alcohol consumption) because of competition with low-priced alcohol sales at legal liquor stores.
Prohibition had a notable effect on the alcohol brewing industry in the United States. When Prohibition ended, only half the breweries that previously existed reopened. The post-Prohibition period saw the introduction of the American lager style of beer, which dominates today. Wine historians also note that Prohibition destroyed what was a fledgling wine industry in the United States. Productive wine quality grape vines were replaced by lower quality vines growing thicker skinned grapes that could be more easily transported. Much of the institutional knowledge was also lost as winemakers either emigrated to other wine producing countries or left the business altogether.
At the end of Prohibition, some supporters openly admitted its failure. A quote from a letter, written in 1932 by wealthy industrialist John D. Rockefeller, Jr., states:
When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.
Some historians have commented that the alcohol industry accepted stronger regulation of alcohol in the decades after repeal, as a way to reduce the chance that Prohibition would return.
During Prohibition, large numbers of people began making their own alcoholic beverages at home. To do so, they often used bricks of wine, sometimes called blocks of wine. To meet the booming demand for grape juice, California grape growers increased their area about 700% in the first five years of prohibition. The juice was commonly sold as "bricks or blocks of Rhine Wine," "blocks of port," and so on along with a warning: "After dissolving the brick in a gallon of water, do not place the liquid in a jug away in the cupboard for twenty days, because then it would turn into wine." One grape block producer sold nine varieties: Port, Virginia Dare, Muscatel, Angelica, Tokay, Sauterne, Riesling, Claret and Burgundy.