A Quick & Dirty History of Prohibition
Fact: Before Prohibition, people drank A LOT. Alcohol was considered safer than water & people actually thought drinking sauce was good for your health! It was not uncommon for a barrel of hard apple cider to sit just inside the door of a home in the country with a ladle. You drank when you woke up, went to work, drank after work, drank when a visitor came, drank with dinner & before going to bed – and we’re talking men, women AND children.
The main reasons for Prohibition can basically be boiled down to these:
Medical – Doctors realized that alcohol can be bad for your health. Many Americans were suffering from Cirrhosis, a liver disease caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. Wait, so if we have wayyyy too much of something, it can make us sick??? Say what??!
Economic – Many workers were drinking before, after & during work, making it difficult for them to perform tasks & made many workers skip work. Ever try plowing a field when you’re drunk? Ever try plowing a field when you’re sober? Nuff said.
Social – Many men were squandering their lives’ savings on alcohol & gambling, neglecting other areas that needed attention in their family, such as food, household necessities, education & pretty new lace petticoats. In short, the wives were pissed with their men spending all their $$ on booze. Some of the ladies even banded together to form the the Anti-Saloon League of the US temperance movement. Their slogan (featured in the background of David Hill’s painting at The Living Room) was “Lips That Touch Liquor Shall Not Touch Mine.”
The Politicians (& gangsters like Al Capone) also knew they could make a quick buck by bootlegging.
Because of this & the above reasons, the head homies added the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1919, basically outlawing booze & fun altogether.
If you put someone in a room & tell them not to push the giant red button in front of them, what do you think is gonna happen once you leave the room? Prohibition was that button & the government was the guy telling you not to push it. As soon as the 18th Amendment was established, the consumption of alcohol skyrocketed! Additionally, alcohol become more dangerous to drink! Because people had to make their own “bathtub gin,” they had to use alcohol distilled from paint thinners, formaldehyde, & other really gross things you can pick up at Home Depot. Thanks, U.S. Government – over 10,000 people died from drinking alcohol made illegally from industrial spirits during Prohibition alone. Crime & corruption of public officials and law enforcement agencies also increased. Basically, things got gansta.
Finally, the head honchos repealed Prohibition with The Twenty-first Amendment in 1932, which put each state in charge of it’s alcohol consumption laws -i.e. why today, you can’t purchase booze in CT on Sunday, Vermont Walmarts can sell wine & Saratoga can serve hooch until 4am.
Prohibition in Saratoga
Jon & Tiff Open a Speakeasy