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15 Surprising Facts About Prohibition

Prohibition gave us both booze cruises and Boardwalk Empire. Also, the KKK was a big fan.

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1. It was never illegal to drink during Prohibition.


Prohibition, barred making alcohol, selling it, and shipping it for the purposes of consumption.

In fact, doctors could prescribe alcohol for medicinal purposes. Patients could then legally buy liquor from the pharmacy or their physician.

2. In order to enforce the 18th Amendment, the National Prohibition Act, more commonly known as Volstead Act was passed.


While 18th Amendment prohibited the production, sale, and transport of "intoxicating liquors", it did not define "intoxicating liquors" or provide penalties. When the Volstead Act was passed it allowed states and the federal government authority to enforce the ban by “appropriate legislation.”

The three distinct purposes of the Act were:

1. to prohibit intoxicating beverages,

2. to regulate the manufacture, sale, or transport of intoxicating liquor (but not consumption), and

3. to ensure an ample supply of alcohol and promote its use in scientific research and in the development of fuel, dye and other

3. Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was one of the major forces behind the 18th Amendment. They taught as "scientific fact" that the majority of beer drinkers die from edema (swelling of the organs or body).


9. Cocktails gained popularity during this time as they offered a way to mask the flavor of poorly made alcohol. Popular cocktails included: Mary Pickford, French 75, Barbary Coast, Bee’s Knees, and the Sidecar.

11. "Cruises to nowhere," aka “booze cruises,” were an industry that sprouted from prohibition. Ships would sail out to international waters, were they could legally serve alcohol; the ship would typically cruise in circles.


These cruises were also a precursor to the luxury cruise business; prior to this time people only used ships to travel (like transatlantic crossings).


13. On December 5th, 1933 the 21st Amendment was ratified and Prohibition ended. This day is known as Repeal Day.


Additionally, the 18th Amendment is unique among the 27 Amendments, it is the only constitutional amendment that has ever been repealed by another amendment (the 21st amendement).