Liquor Prohibition, 1920-1933

Under intense pressure from the temperance movement, the U. S. Senate proposed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and went to effect on January 16, 1920.

The Amendment prohibited the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption. Unfortunately, there was little done to enforce the law. For instance, by 1925, in New York City alone, there was anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs and Chicago had a similar situation.

While prohibition was successful in reducing alcohol consumption, it became increasingly unpopular in the latter years during the Great Depression, especially in large cities because of the loss of legal jobs associated with the liquor industry.

There was a tremendous increase in crime associated with gangsters running the illegal market. We will highlight the Chicago crime scene during Prohibition with a few newspapers to give a concept of the time.

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an amendment to the allow the manufacture of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment ending the Prohibition era.