December 5, 1933 saw Prohibition come to an end with the ratification of the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution. The day, celebrated as a holiday by some, is also known as Repeal Day. The anniversary marks 80 years since laws banning the creation and sale of alcoholic beverages were crossed out in US law books. It’s said that even President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who campaigned on a promise to repeal Prohibition, treated himself to a dirty martini in celebration 80 years ago.
As CNBC points out, it is sometimes mistakenly believed that the 18th Amendment banned alcohol drinking. Rather, US citizens were free to drink spirits, but it was the making, importing, and selling of drinks that was outlawed. The controversial Amendment was passed in 1919 but took effect in January of 1920 — nearly 14 years of a dry and sober nation.
By now though, we all know better: It helped to foster an illegal underground economy that responded to the demands of a thirsty population. With it came a sharp rise in general crime, not just smuggling. Corruption, organized crime, and homicide all saw a new dawn with the passing of Prohibition, as Huffington Post reports.
Despite the many costs that came with more than a dozen years of Prohibition, Americans’ overall alcohol consumption did plummet. Because of this, supporters of the 18th Amendment (yes, they still exist) insist that it was a success, regardless of the other, less pleasant outcomes.
However, with the end of Prohibition in 1933, Americans returned to their love affair with alcohol. As CNBC cites, drinking in the US shot through the roof after repeal, at least until the 1950s. Apparently partied out, drinking in the US has since been gradually declining.
In the years since Prohibition’s demise in 1933, drinking rights have been expanded further for Americans. Until 1978, it was still illegal to make wine or brew beer for private use at home.
So tonight, feel free to partake in a guilt-free indulgence of your choice of adult beverage. Commemorate your right as an American to get legally buzzed and think of the harrowing Prohibition years!
If you plan to celebrate, what Constitutionally permitted drink you be enjoying? Let us know in the comments below!