18th Amendment - U.S. Constitution Page

18th Amendment

Authorities in Orange County California dumping illegal liquor during prohibitionAuthorities in Orange County California dumping illegal liquor during prohibitionBy: Orange County Archives

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18th Amendment Text
Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.

Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
  • On Saturday, 17 January 1920, the Manchester Guardian reported with mild incredulity on one of the most extraordinary experiments in modern democratic history. "One minute after midnight tonight," the story began, "America will become an entirely arid desert as far as alcoholics are concerned, any drinkable containing more than half of 1 per cent alcohol being forbidden." In fact, the Volstead Act – which prohibited the sale of "intoxicating liquors" – had come into operation at midnight the day before. But the authorities had granted drinkers one last day, one last session at the bar, before the iron shutters of Prohibition came down. Across the United States, many bars and restaurants marked the demise of the demon drink by handing out free glasses of wine, brandy and whisky.
  • Between the years of 1920, when the 18th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, and 1933, when the 21st Amendment repealed the restriction, it was illegal to sell, transport or manufacture "intoxicating" beverages for consumption in the United States. But Prohibition didn't stop drinking; it simply pushed the consumption of booze underground. By 1925, there were thousands of speakeasy clubs operating out of New York City, and bootlegging operations sprang up around the country to supply thirsty citizens with alcoholic drinks. In his new book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, Daniel Okrent explores how a confluence of political and social trends led to America's dry era.
  • It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat. Before hospital staff realized how sick he was—the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom—the man died. So did another holiday partygoer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it. Within the next two days, yet another 23 people died in the city from celebrating the season.

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