Remembering the 18th Amendment (Prohibition)

On this day in 1919 the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified and enacted into law.  One year later, on January 16th, 1920 it became illegal to produce, distribute or sell alcohol in the United States.  The National Prohibition Act or as it was more commonly referred to, the “Volstead Act” passed through Congress and over President Wilson’s veto and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor; however, did very little to enforce the law.  And by 1925 there were approximately 100,000 “Speakeasy” clubs in New York City alone.  It is without a doubt the most unpopular law ever enacted in the history of our country, and was plagued with logistical problems from the start, and so on December 5th, 1933, it was repealed under the Twenty-first Amendment.

Today’s quotes are on Prohibition, as many of the time felt the 18th Amendment was a joke, I personally like W. C. Fields’ the best.

“Why don’t they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as well as prohibition did, in five years Americans would be the smartest race of people on Earth.” – Will Rogers, 1879-1935

“Prohibition goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control man’s appetite by legislation and makes crimes out of things that are not crimes.” – Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

“For every prohibition you create you also create an underground.” – Jello Biafra

“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.” – Al Capone, 1899-1947

“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” – W. C. Fields, 1880-1946

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James A. Restucci is the author of this blog. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 Internal License.

5 Responses to Remembering the 18th Amendment (Prohibition)

  1. jimr says:

    Susan, I am sorry, I do not know when he made the quote. I got the quote from a website:

    Hope this helps!

  2. Susan Meyer says:

    Do you know when Al Capone made the comment about prohibition (the date)?

  3. Libby says:

    I like the quote from Will Rogers best. W.C. Fields’ runs I close second, IMO.

    What I find really interesting about the 18th Amendment is that while everyone agreed that “demon rum” had a very negative effect on society’s smooth functioning, no one saw the negative effect of drugs that could be purchased at the drugstore without a prescription such as laudanum and codeine. They were considered either as simple pain-relievers or elixirs that were very beneficial to your health. Drug addiction was rampant and that was OK. Alcoholism on the other hand…

  4. TVNews says:

    You left one out. I forget which roaring 20s gangster said it, but it was words to the effect of, “When ever the government passes a new law, I get a new business.”

  5. EagleWatch says:

    The net effect of prohibition was to entrench La Cosa Nostra, as big business, into the American social fabric.