Happy 94th Birthday to the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment!

190px-18th_Amendment_Pg1of1_ACThis week we mark the ninety-fourth anniversary of that supreme folly, the 18th Amendment, better known as the Prohibition Amendment. It was ratified on January 16, 1919. It would go into effect a year and a day later, on January 17, 1920. The pertinent text is short: “After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.”

imagesMany states had already approved prohibition legislation years earlier, but this amendment to the Constitution applied to the entire country, all 48 states and territories. Only two states rejected the amendment, Connecticut and Rhode Island–of course, they had to observe the ban anyway. What most people don’t realize is that this amendment did not make it illegal to drink liquor. It made it illegal to make, sell, or transport it. People could still legally drink up any supplies they already owned and many individuals and private clubs had laid in huge amounts in anticipation of that loophole. 

The 18th is the only amendment to the Constitution that has ever been repealed. The 21st amendment ended the tragic experiment thirteen years later. 

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Published in: on January 17, 2013 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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