Sunday, January 16, 2011

On This Day in History: January 16

Customers breaking the law at a speak easy during Prohibition
On January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes," is ratified and becomes the law.

Nine months after prohibition was passed, Congress passed the Volstead Act.  The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, prohibition ultimately failed, and the large scale distribution of alcohol created one of the most violent periods in American history as organized crime fought to maintain control of the fortunes that could be made from illegal liquor.

In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition. 

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