Updated: 2/14/2020

Storyboard Text

  • I, Frances Willard, leader of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, denounce alcohol and will work to ban it!
  • The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was founded in 1874 during a wave of religious revivals and advocated against alcohol consumption. In 1893, The Anti-Saloon League was created to lobby the government to ban alcohol.
  • In 1917, Congress proposed the 18th Amendment, which was ratified 11 months later. Woodrow Wilson had already banned alcohol to free up grain for the war effort, so the effects of the ban weren't felt until after the war.  In 1919, the Prohibition Acts were created to enforce the ban on alcohol.
  • The enforcement of the new laws was first given to the Internal Revenue Service, but it was soon transferred over to the Justice Department and Bureau of Prohibition. The laws were more strongly enforced in "dry" rural areas, but the "wet" urban areas still had lots of alcohol.
  • 21st AmendmentAlcohol is legal now, and prohibition is unconstitutional
  • Bootlegging, or the illegal selling of alcohol, became a common practice. Speakeasies became common in cities as places where people could purchase and enjoy alcohol. People would also make homemade liquor, called bathtub gin.
  • The banning of alcohol led to organized crime and gangs. One of the most well known criminals from the prohibition is Al Capone, who was the leader of a Chicago based gang. Gang violence became common in cities like Chicago, where the Saint Valentines Day Massacre took place.
  • By the end of the 1920s, public support for prohibition had vanished, and the 21st Amendment made alcohol legal again. The Prohibition era contributed to the idea of a "lost generation" and proved that even if something is made illegal, people will still find a way to get what they want.