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prohibition,legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor lawsliquor laws,
legislation designed to restrict, regulate, or totally abolish the manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages. The passage of liquor laws has been prompted chiefly by the desire to prevent immoderate use of intoxicants, but sometimes also by the need to raise
..... Click the link for more information. . The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as a result of the agitation of 19th-century temperance movementstemperance movements,
organized efforts to induce people to abstain—partially or completely—from alcoholic beverages. Such movements occurred in ancient times, but ceased until the wide use of distilled liquors in the modern period resulted in increasing drunkenness.
..... Click the link for more information. . Historians have pointed out that alcohol consumption rose dramatically in the 19th cent., particularly as waves of immigrants moved to America's cities, many opening saloons in their new homes. To some degree the movement to ban alcohol was the result of a social backlash by America's small-town white Protestant population against the urban immigrants and their culture. Prohibition also was often supported by political and social Progressives who advocated woman suffragewoman suffrage,
the right of women to vote. Throughout the latter part of the 19th cent. the issue of women's voting rights was an important phase of feminism. In the United States
It was first seriously proposed in the United States at Seneca Falls, N.Y.
..... Click the link for more information. , child welfare, and other reforms, and prohibition was associated in cities with the good-government movement, which opposed a saloon culture that helped boss-led political corruption to flourish.
A number of states passed temperance laws in the early part of the 19th cent., but most of them were soon repealed. A new wave of state prohibition legislation followed the creation (1846–51) of a law in Maine, the first in the United States. Emphasis shifted from advocacy of temperance to outright demand for government prohibition. Chief of the forces in this new and effective approach was the Anti-Saloon LeagueAnti-Saloon League,
U.S. organization working for prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors. Founded in 1893 as the Ohio Anti-Saloon League at Oberlin, Ohio, by representatives of temperance societies and evangelical Protestant churches, it came to wield great political
..... Click the link for more information. . Prohibition had become a national political issue, with a growing Prohibition partyProhibition party,
in U.S. history, minor political party formed (1869) for the legislative prohibition of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages.
..... Click the link for more information. and support from a number of rural, religious, and business groups.
The drive was given impetus in World War I, when conservation policies limited liquor output. After the war national prohibition became the law, the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution forbidding the manufacture, sale, import, or export of intoxicating liquors. In spite of the strict Volstead Act (1919) (see under Volstead, Andrew JosephVolstead, Andrew Joseph
, 1860–1947, American legislator, b. Goodhue co., Minn. A lawyer, he held several local offices in Minnesota before serving (1903–23) in the U.S. House of Representatives.
..... Click the link for more information. ), law enforcement proved to be very difficult. Smuggling on a large scale (see bootleggingbootlegging,
in the United States, the illegal distribution or production of liquor and other highly taxed goods. First practiced when liquor taxes were high, bootlegging was instrumental in defeating early attempts to regulate the liquor business by taxation.
..... Click the link for more information. ) could not be prevented, and the illicit manufacture of liquor sprang up with such rapidity that authorities were unable to suppress it. There followed a period of unparalleled illegal drinking (often of inferior and dangerous beverages) and lawbreaking on a large and organized scale. Meanwhile, speakeasies flourished and provided a new venue for sexually integrated social interaction. In 1933 the Twenty-first Amendment, repealing prohibition, was ratified. A number of states, counties, and other divisions maintained full or partial prohibition under the right of local option. By 1966 no statewide prohibition laws existed. Prohibition laws were passed in Finland, the Scandinavian countries, and most of Canada after World War I, but were repealed, partly because of serious consequences to the countries' commerce with wine-exporting nations.
See Report on the Enforcement of the Prohibition Laws (1931) by the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (Wickersham Commission); C. Warburton, The Economic Results of Prohibition (1932, repr. 1969); H. Asbury, The Great Illusion (1950, repr. 1968); A. Sinclair, Prohibition, the Era of Excess (1962); J. H. Timberlake, Jr., Prohibition and the Progressive Movement (1963); J. Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade (1963); H. Waters, Smugglers of Spirits (1971); J. Kobler, Ardent Spirits (1973); D. Okrent, Last Call (2010); L. McGirr, The War on Alcohol (2015).