The 21st Amendment

The 21st Amendment


"On December 6, 1932, Senator John Blaine of Wisconsin submitted a resolution to Congress proposing the submission to the states of the Twenty-First Amendment, which would annul the Eighteenth. Two months later, on February 21, 1933, the amendment was sent to the state governors. Meanwhile, the newly-elected President Roosevelt asked Congress to modify the Volstead Act to provide for the sale of 3.2 percent beer. In nine days, the Congress complied and legalized beer, much to the delight of the American public. In St. Louis, at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery, 30,000 people stormed a motorcade of beer-laden trucks twenty blocks long. Less than a year after the Twenty-First Amendment was submitted for ratification, the necessary thirty-sixth state ratified the amendment at 5:32 PM on December 5, 1933. At 7:00 PM, President Roosevelt signed the proclamation ending Prohibition."

The Text of the 21st Amendment Reads:

  • Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
  • Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
  • Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.

The 21st amendment to the United States Constitution was passed by Congress on February 20, 1933, and was ratified by the states, thereby taking effect on December 5, 1933. Interestingly, when Congress passes an amendment and requests ratification from the states, the individual state legislatures vote on the amendment, not the people. However, this time, Congress stipulated that "conventions of states" should vote on the amendment. Since Prohibition was so unpopular by 1933, the Congress figured that they would pass the amendment, fearing that state legislatures who were pro-prohibition would try and defeat the amendment. The 21st amendment brought an end to the 13 year "Great Experiment" that America was under. To completely understand the three sections, I will explain them individually.

  • Section 1. is pretty self explanatory. It repealed the 18th amendment to the Constitution which began prohibition.
  • Section 2. gave the states the right to determine alcohol laws for their own state. After the 21st amendment was passed, some states continued to be "dry."
  • Section 3. is a section that usually appears with most amendments. It describes processes for the ratification and repeal of the amendment.

Interestingly, December 5th is celebrated as 21st Amendment Day. There are even Online Greeting Cards for the occasion. Check it Out!

See the 5th and Final Page of FDR's Presidential Proclamation ending Prohibition

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