A reminder of how much things have changed.
Jan. 17, 2020 marks a century since the United States implemented the Volstead Act, which was enacted as a way to carry out the 18th Amendment that established prohibition.
It’s no secret that prohibition in America ultimately failed (as alcohol is legal today and prevalent in most dining establishments), but advocates for the cause explained that the dangers of alcohol were potentially life-threatening.
Initially, the prohibition bill was vetoed by President Woodrow Wilson in Oct. 1919, but that same day, the House voted to override the veto.
The Volstead Act set out to accomplish three things:
1) to prohibit intoxicating beverages,
2) to regulate the manufacture, production, use, and sale of high-proof spirits for other than beverage purposes,
3) to insure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye, and other lawful industries.
Following the Volstead Act, alcoholism decreased, but criminal activity to obtain illegal alcohol increased. Entrepreneurs produced “rotgut” alcohol, which is highly toxic and even more unhealthy than normal ale. Murder rates also rose sky-high, but fell the same year prohibition was overturned.
The Blaine Act, which called for a repeal of the 18th amendment, was adopted by the U.S. Congress on Feb. 20, 1933. The repeal was finalized on Dec. 5, 1933 when the 21st Amendment was ratified. The 21st Amendment is the only of the 27 Amendments to be used entirely as a repeal to another Amendment.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol sales have been increasing as of the last few decades. In the 1970s and 1980s however, alcoholism was at an all-time high after prohibition ended.