What is Prohibition?
Prohibition was an infamous time in American history that is often thought of as silly, or wasteful. It is often referred to as the "Great Experiment." Herbert Hoover, the President of the United States when Prohibition was enacted said, " "Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose." It was an experiment after all, an experiment in ridding America of alcoholic beverages. It "was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burdened created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America." However, after 13 years, Prohibition was over, and the results that reformers hoped to see were not visible, and it seemed as though the situation was made worse. Although Prohibition seemed like a great idea when the drafters of the 18th Amendment added it to the Constitution, in the end, it seemed to be a great let down.
Prohibition is described as "several periods during which the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages were restricted or illegal." America underwent Prohibition from January 16, 1920 - February 17, 1933. Interestingly, America was not the only country to experience prohibition in the 20th century. The other areas affected by prohibition include:
- Prince Edward Island in Canada and other locations in Canada were under prohibition from 1901 - 1948.
- Finland was also under prohibition, called kieltolaki, from 1919 - 1932.
- Iceland prohibited alcohol from 1915 - 1922, and beer was not allowed to be sold until 1989.
- Many states in India went through periods of prohibition from 1950 - 2000
The word "prohibition" can "refer to any law banning the sale and consumption of alcohol, in particular, local laws that have the same effect. "Lexicologically, the prohibition of something is the widespread banning of something, whether it be alcohol, drugs, or any other item found unacceptable by a majority." I find it interesting that when many people hear the word prohibition, they automatically think of the time period in American History when alcohol was banned. However, there are still movements today to prohibit alcohol sales, and some people wish to start a prohibition on the sale of illegal drugs, such as marijuana. These will be discussed further in the timeline of prohibition so that one can see the implications one period of history can have on the future."
A United States Prohibition Poster
Canadian Prohibition Cartoon
"Bootleggers during Finnish prohibition pour smuggled alcohol into half-litre metal flasks on the island of Santahamina in the 1920s."
Prohibition Trivia and Fun Facts