Prohibition in the United States (1920-1933)

Dry Law. Standard by which was banned in the United States , between the 17 of January of 1920 and 6 of December of 1933 , the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol ( wine , beer whiskey , etc). The law embraced the XVIII Amendment of the Constitution and through it the republican government tried, from a puritan perspective, to turn the morality of the country around.


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  • 1 History
  • 2 consequences
  • 3 Partial Prohibition
  • 4 Sources


In 1919 in the United States the 18th came into force. Amendment of the Constitution based on the initiative of Congresswoman Andrew Volstead by which alcoholic beverages are prohibited, under the so-called Prohibition Law, the measure that will last until 1933 will have the effect of a spectacular rise of mafia groups linked to trade clandestine of liquor, which will cause numerous controversies while corruption spreads among those who must fight them. The prohibition became effective throughout the national territory on January 17 , 1920 .

On the eve of the entry into force of Prohibition, on January 17, 1920, the words of Minnesota’s abstentionist MP Andrew Volstead spread across the country :

“Tonight, a minute after twelve, a new nation will be born. The demon of drinking makes a will. An era of clear ideas and clean manners begins. The slums will soon be a thing of the past. Prisons and correctional facilities will be emptied We will transform them into barns and factories. All men will walk upright again, all women will smile, and all children will laugh. The gates of hell are closed forever. ”

Despite how exciting those claims may have seemed, the reality was that the drink began to have a new spell on consumers and suppliers.

The Prohibition Law did not meet the objectives it intended. On the contrary, the prohibition encouraged the consumption, especially, of high alcohol alcohol levels and became a real public health problem by indirectly encouraging illegal distillation. But above all, it gave wings to smuggling and the black market, controlled by gangsters that made the United States an unsafe place, due to bribery of justice, authorities and police. Blackmail and reckoning between gangs were common in this period. Mafiosi like Al Capone accumulated immense power and the State had to create special police units to stop the corruption of the police itself ( Elliot Ness ).

In 1933 in the United States the Prohibition Law was repealed as a consequence of injustice, widespread corruption and the creation of organized crime that has been in force for fourteen years. Before 1980 , mainly due to the annexation of several neighborhoods, the population of Chicago exceeded one million inhabitants. During the era of Prohibition (1919-1933) Chicago became famous for smuggling liquor and clashes between gangs gangster, among which highlighted the figure of A Capone, star of the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 .


The law produced division and social discontent. While the ban went unnoticed by farmers who continued to harvest wine and other homemade beverages, and was widely accepted by the population of the South and the Middle West , the cities of the North refused to accept it. Curiously and paradoxically, a law approved with all the effort and enthusiasm did not get support to be fulfilled.

The number of federal agents monitoring compliance with the law was extremely low, with insufficient salaries and little assistance from the local authorities in the wetlands. No wonder, then, that corruption and immorality were unleashed. The disregard for the law altered customs – mainly of the upper classes – in an extremely harmful way. The old lounges disappeared giving way to speakeasies or illegal bars. Unscrupulous smugglers brought liquor into the country from Mexico , Canada or the West Indies to be distributed by other smugglers to their clientele. Some Americans even made homemade alcoholic beverages.

The drink began to have a new spell. Senior executives and big businessmen olympically mocked the law in their mansions and clubs, turning drinking into a sign of social prestige. Following the example of the upper class and harassed by youthful rebellion, teen-agers, university students and young people, in general, were not far behind in the consumption of alcohol. Everything seemed to indicate that the prohibition stopped being the noble experiment (noble experiment), defended by the people. The worst consequence of the ban was to stimulate organized crime. The trafficking of illegal alcohol consumption, on the other hand, moved hundreds of millions of dollars that went to the underworld and underworld.

The terms racker and racketeer appeared and gangsterism preyed on other businesses, extorted and forced to pay a tax to protect their interests and be free from the flames of fire. We are talking about organized crime, in which rival criminal gangs were involved to secure the gigantic business derived from alcohol. In Chicago alone, more than 500 deaths occurred in the 1920s as a result of these gangster gang fights.

In this city, the beautiful Windy City , on the shores of Lake Michigan , began “Scarface” Al Capone, in 1925 , his fight for control of the world of crime. He was as politically powerful a character as any other in the city government and tougher than anyone, making him suspect, among other things, the famous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929 , in which seven members of a group lost their lives. rival gang. Al Capone was sentenced for tax evasion to eleven years in federal prison. Organized crime spread, of course, to other areas, such as prostitution, gambling and drugs .

Partial Prohibition

There are several types of partial dry laws, but some regulations on the trade and consumption of alcohol are commonly called that, which are applied in countries where alcohol is accepted as a legal drug. The main regulation prohibits the sale and public consumption of alcoholic beverages at certain times, and also in some countries the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on certain days is prohibited.

In Colombia , Peru , Chile , Ecuador and Venezuela , this norm always comes into effect around any type of election at the national level, such as voting for President and Congressmen of the Republic, Mayors or Regional Presidents. The rule applies from 48 hours before the start of the election until 24 hours after it. It is thus possible to prevent the alcohol poisoning of many people from resulting in excesses and disorders. Thus, during this period, you cannot drink or sell any type of alcohol in public places in these nations.


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