Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by Eyemo, Aug 24, 2008.
Watching "The Untouchables"..Can anyone please explain about prohibition....
The eighteenth amendment to the US Constitution, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages. In effect from 1920 thru 1933 and enforced under provisions governed by the Volstead Act. Various states had prohibition laws of their own, and momentum to national prohibition had built thruout the teens, with the austerity of WW1 giving the movement the final push it needed to get over the political top.
Supporters called it "The Noble Experiment," but in reality it led to an explosion of crime and vice, as organized gangs controlled the importation and distribution of bootleg beverages, and as the criminal tide escalated, public sentiment turned against the law. The amendment was officially repealed on December 6, 1933.
Thanks so much... I'll drink to that!
The black market for booze was enormous, at every income bracket from bathtub gin up to the guys passing the laws in the first place buying liquor smuggled in from the UK.
And criminal organizations could use it as a MAJOR money-maker, and funding other, darker enterprises.
As one major crime-lord said, (and I would attribute if I could remember which one, it may have been Capone) "when I bring it into the country, I'm a crook. When my customers serve it on a silver tray, it's elegant hospitality."
A government commission appointed by the Hoover Administration in 1931 outlined all the shortcomings of Prohibition, found that most Americans held it in contempt -- and then recommended that it continue. The result was one of the loveliest bits of satire to come out of the era -- a bit of doggerel rhyme by newspaper columnist Franklin P. Adams:
Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it!
It don't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it!
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It's filled the land with vice and crime,
It don't prohibit worth a dime --
Nevertheless -- we like it!
Just some links that might help:
Have yet to read this, just stumbled across it:
(there is a flip-book version that is pretty neat)
Maybe this can help?
It did create one great thing though-the speakeasy! Something alluring about entering a secret bar in a basement, and ordering a drink, add the adrenaline rush of a potential raid at any moment.
From fairly early on in the US there were groups, some based on religious affliliation, that were advocating the banning of alcoholic beverages. These were collectively called the Temperance Movement. Alcohol was usually a tax revenue item and fell under a section of the tax collection system. THis is why in some areas the hunting of illicit stlls was handled by "Revenuers" as seen in film mostly in the Southern states. Even today it is regulated by a federal law enforcement agency part of the IRS (TAX) sytem called the A.T.F. or Alcohol, Tabbaco, and Firearms agency. Every state has its own Alcohol Board that oversees it. While beer and even wine may come up as TV ads, on open air TV commercials for hard liquor are rare still to this day because of the attitudes we have inherited.
Alcohol remains a touchy subject and was even the cause of a Rebellion by farmers around the 1780's or 1790's called the Whiskey Rebellion. It points to the fact that by growing grain you could make or lose money but if you brewed and distilled alcohol with that grain, you would make more money and have less to ship. Taxing alcohol was a bite on the farmers income they were not happy with.
Anyway the Temperance Movement gained in strength an in many areas of many states county governments outlawed alcohol and which is still held over, these are called "Dry Counties." As the popularity grew state afte state outlawed alcohol. The Constitutional Amendment was ratified by enough states to make it Federal law for the entire US. Bootlegging is when one brings alcohol to a place where it has been banned. Those that brought in alcohol from North or South of the US border were bootleggers. I believe those that used ships were refered to as Rum-runners too.
It was a big split in US sentiment and is an example of the "tyranny of the majority." Many saw alcohol as a distinct Vice while others saw alcohol as a good thing that could be mis-used and abused. It is an example as to how the US will have a so called "Puritanincal" ethics it will turn in on itself under certain conditions. Often as described as "that certain feeling that somewhere, somebody was having fun" and that sentiment was used it to the detriment of society by banning things even films. Not to be a diatribe on the morals and ethics of such crusades, but it did lead to the most tremendous growth of organized crime and layed the foundations of many criminal activities which remain today, Prohibition was the source of funding and fueled that growth as mentioned in previous reply. It has parallels in certain aspects of recreational drug use, even today, and that is an even more touchy subject for all involved!
I remember Sinatra saying "I feel sorry for people that don't drink because when you get up in the morning that's as good as you're going to feel all day"
I'll drink to that! :cheers1:
didn't I see in another thread that abisinthe or some other liquor was allowed because it's taste was so "Medincine" like?
I live in the heart of the bible belt, were "dry" counties and cities still exist. I don't live in one (thank God), but they are all around.
In fact, as a bit of trivia, just about 60 miles up the road from me, Jack Daniel's distillery and world headquarters operates inside a dry county. You can take a factory tour and watch it being made there, but you have to go over the county line to buy it. How weird, and hypocritical is that? A county seat that gets it's lion's share of revenue from a whiskey maker, but does not allow the sale of it. They never re-legalized it after prohibition. Only in the South.
That's correct about the rum-runners. My grandfather spent Prohibition making twice-monthly 'business trips' to Florida to get rum. It seems the family restaurant had a speakeasy in the back room. I also suspect he was helping to stock his uncle's establishment in the red-light district, from what I've been discovering from chatting with heretofore-unknown relatives.
Things have been omitted. People could manufacture (distill, brew) alcohol for personal consumption up to, I believe, 200 gallons per year. People could buy (from where I do not know) and consume alcoholic beverages with a doctor's prescription.
I wonder whether importing liquor, or returning with it from a trip abroad, would have been legal were the amount obviously small enough to be considered "for personal consumption?"
Very informative...thanks all:eusa_clap
Yes you could (and still can for hard liquor) apply to make beer, wine and alcohol for personal consumption BUT how many did and how many knew you could? It wasn't common knowledge.
Sacramental wine making tended to be the only way for numerous wineries to stay in business.
As to importing, yes you can even bring in Cuban cigars, there is a legal way, but how many know and how many do so in the legal way?
There were even kits that came out with "How Not To Brew Beer" or "How Not to Make Wine" instructions.
Breweries also stayed in business making "non alcoholic malt beverages" -- which were simply beer from which the alcohol was extracted. Anheuser Busch heavily promoted their brand -- "Bevo" -- which became something of a national joke during the Prohibition years.
This stuff wasn't very good -- but it was the base for "needle beer," which was made by injecting industrial ethanol into a keg of non-alcoholic brew using a large hypodermic needle pushed into the bung.
Wow! I have to say that this thread, so far, has been amazingly informative! I was well aware of the basic facts concerning Prohibition but a good many of these are new to me! Thanks all for the info!!!
Not all breweries were successful at that. Baltimore had something like 40 odd breweries before Prohibition and something like 3 afterwards!! I'm not sure the exact number so don't quote me on that. But I know it was a DRASTIC reduction in the number of breweries.
Yes! We haven't begun to approach the number of pre-prohibition breweries even with all of the new regional micro brewers and brew pubs that are coming into existance.
Also, since prohibiton the national (supposedly premium) breweries came into prominence, all the while the beer styles for the large brewers were changing the national style, particularly for Lagers and Pilsners. They brought in more non-malt adjucts to lighten the character of these beers, which continues today.
Small brewers tend to concern themselves with heavier styles and the corresponding stronger flavors for those styles.
Some distillers took a similar path, one of the the most notable L. E. Jung & Wulff of New Orleans, made non alcoholic cordials based on their pre-prohibition products.
Jung & Wulff would advertise that you could buy their non alcoholic cordials from your local druggist, where you could also find something a bit stronger, to add to the cordial.
One of the loopholes in prohibition was that alcohol could be obtained at certain Drugstores that had a Federal license to dispense prescription alcohol.
One then went to their own Doctor and obtained a prescription for their prescription liquor to cure their "sore throat".
In New Orleans, Legendre's Drug Store had the largest federal license in the South to dispense "prescription alcohol" during prohibition, certain well known political figures would often call late at night from the Roosevelt Hotel, for their prescriptions of Legendre's Herbal Alcohol Remedy
When prohibition was over, Marion Legendre turned his prescription remedy into something that would become a staple of present day New Orleans.
Some time back in the 70's, I got to see a bottle of Pharmiceutical alcohol. It resembled a hip flask type bottle as I recall, but the thing was it had a black tax label across the top. I believe it was 190 proof or 95% alcohol and was the highest proof I had ever seen. (Later I had seen Everclear at 180 proof I think which is higher than the old 151 rum, the highest I had known about previously.)
Anyway the Tax label was black while regular liquor had a red tax label while whiskies Bottled in Bond had green tax labels.
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