History of the Origins of Prohibition and Facts

In the 1820s and '30s, a wave of religious revivalism swept the United States, leading to augmented calls for restraint, as well as other "perfectionist" movements such as the eradication of slavery. In 1838, the state of Massachusetts passed a temperance law banning the sale of feelings in less than 15-gallon quantities; though the law was repealed two years later, it set a standard for such legislation. Maine passed the first state prohibition law in 1846, and a number of other states had pursued suit by the time the Civil War began in 1861.

By the turn of the century, restraint societies were a common contest in communities across the United States. Women played a strong role in the temperance association, as alcohol was seen as a critical force in families and marriages. In 1906, a new wave of assault began on the sale of liquor, led by the Anti-Saloon League (established in 1893) and driven by a response to urban growth, as well as the increase of evangelical Protestantism and its view of saloon civilization as dishonest and ungodly. In 1917,
after the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson instituted a provisional wartime proscription in order to save grain for producing food. That same year, Congress submitted the 18th alteration, which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of exhilarating liquors, for state confirmation.

Ratified on January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment went into consequence a year later, by which time no fewer than 33 states had previously enacted their own prevention legislation. In October 1919, Congress passed the National Prohibition Act, which present guidelines for the centralized enforcement of Prohibition. Championed by delegate Andrew Volstead of Mississippi, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the legislation was more frequently known as the Volstead Act.

Both centralized and local government struggled to enforce exclusion over the course of the 1920s. Enforcement was initially assigned to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and was later relocate to the Justice Department. In general, Prohibition was forced much more powerfully in areas where the population understood to the legislation--mainly rural areas and small towns--and much more insecurely in urban areas. Despite very early signs of success, including a refuse in arrests for drunkenness and a reported 30 percent drop in alcohol expenditure, those who wanted to keep drinking found ever-more inventive ways to do it.

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