prohibition


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Related to prohibition: Al Capone, Prohibition of alcohol

prohibition

prohibition, legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor laws. 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 movements. 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 suffrage, 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A number of states passed temperance laws in the early part of the 19th cent., but most of them were soon repealed.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 League. Prohibition had become a national political issue, with a growing Prohibition party 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 Joseph), law enforcement proved to be very difficult. Smuggling on a large scale (see bootlegging) 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.

Bibliography

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).


Prohibition party

Prohibition party, in U.S. history, minor political party formed (1869) for the legislative prohibition of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. The temperance movement was in existence as early as 1800, but it was not until 1867 that its leaders marshaled their forces to establish a separate political party to campaign for prohibition. The result was the organization (Sept., 1869) of the Prohibition party at a convention in Chicago attended by delegates from 20 states. The failure of the temperance cause to gain active support from the major political parties, the failure of public officials to enforce existing local prohibition laws in several states, and the nationwide founding of the United States Brewers' Association were factors contributing to the creation of the Prohibition party. Before entering a presidential race, the Prohibition party entered elections in nine states during the period from 1869 to 1871. The first three presidential candidates—James Black (1872), Green C. Smith (1876), and Neal Dow (1880)—each polled a very small number of votes. Although the central issue of the party was prohibition, typical party platforms included woman suffrage, free public education, prohibition of gambling, and prison reform. In 1882 the party made sizable gains in state elections, and in 1884 a vigorous presidential campaign by John P. St. John resulted in the party's first large popular vote (150,626). Of these votes, 25,000 came from New York state, which the Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland carried by fewer than 1,200 votes. As most of St. John's support came from Republicans angered at the comtemptuous treatment accorded a temperance petition at their national convention, the Prohibitionists helped swing a key state to Cleveland. Four years later the temperance leader Clinton B. Fisk received almost 250,000 votes. But the peak of popular support was reached in 1892, when John Bidwell won almost 265,000 votes. The popularity of the temperance cause had been greatly furthered by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (1874), and later by the Anti-Saloon League (1893), despite the latter's nonpartisan political position. Although the Prohibition party never received a large percentage of the national vote, its influence on public policy far outweighed its electoral strength. This can be seen in state platform declarations of the major parties at this time and in the institution of prohibition by the Eighteenth Amendment. Although the Prohibition party continues to run presidential candidates, the repeal of prohibition by the Twenty-first Amendment had a decidedly weakening effect on the party.

Bibliography

See W. B. Hesseltine, The Rise and Fall of Third Parties (1948); H. P. Nash, Third Parties in American Politics (1959); J. Kobler, Ardent Spirits (1973).

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Prohibition

resurgence of American puritanism (1920–1933). [Am. Hist.: Allen, 14–15]

Prohibition

(1919–1933) period when selling and consuming liquor was against the law. [Am. Hist.: NCE, 2710]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

prohibition

1. (esp in the US) a policy of legally forbidding the manufacture, transportation, sale, or consumption of alcoholic beverages except for medicinal or scientific purposes
2. Law an order of a superior court (in Britain the High Court) forbidding an inferior court to determine a matter outside its jurisdiction

Prohibition

the period (1920--33) when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors was banned by constitutional amendment in the US
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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