Season 2019 / 2020 – Talk 06 – Prohibition
Joanne Watson tells us about Prohibition. She starts by covering the journey that the US followed to the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment. We then hear about what happened after.
There was a flowering of moral conscience after the abolition of slavery. American adults drank an average of 1.7 bottles of 80% proof spirits a week in 1830. That equates to 3.5 bottles of spirits at today’s strength.
Someone commented ‘Americans drink from the crack of dawn to the next crack of dawn’.
The first suggestions of Prohibition came in the 1840s. The US enacted their first laws in 1851.
Alcohol generates taxes
Alcohol taxes came and went in the US. They were applied when the government was short of money.
The road to Prohibition:
The United States started to look at Prohibition from 1896. The Acts that were proposed never got past the Committee Stages.
Canada enacted their laws before the US. In Canada doctors could prescribe alcohol. The were queues of patients before holidays – the prescription? Pints!
‘Lemonade’ Lucy Hayes was the wife of President Rutherford B Hayes. She was an activist and he banned alcohol in the White House.
Carrie Amelia Nation was another active member of the Temperance movement. She used to stand outside bars singing hymns and throwing rocks. Then she graduated to using a hatchet to destroy the bars. She was arrested many times but made money from the sales of replica hatchets.
The British Government enacted licensing restrictions during the First World War. Lloyd George said ‘we are fighting the Germans, the Austrians and the drink and the drink is the deadliest’.
75% of the US States ratified the Eighteenth Amendment by early January 1919.
The law took effect in January 1920 and then the lawlessness began. F Scott Fitzgerald said that ‘during prohibition the parties were bigger, the pace was faster and the morals were looser’.
You’ll need to listen to Joanne to hear the full story.
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