Skip to main content
Select Source:

Eighteenth Amendment

EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT


The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1790) forbade in all territories within its jurisdiction making, selling, or transporting "intoxicating liquors" in the United States. This controversial amendment was proposed in Congress on December 18, 1917, and ratified on January 16, 1919. Though Congress provided states with a period of seven years in which to ratify the amendment, approval took just over a year, such was the prevailing spirit among lawmakers. In the early decades of the twentieth century the Temperance Movement (which advocated abstinence from alcohol) was steadily growing: Thirteen of 31 states had outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcohol by 1855.

During the 1870s temperance also became one of the cornerstones of the growing women's movement. As the nation's women, joined by other activists, mobilized to gain suffrage (the right to vote), they also espoused sweeping cultural changes. Outlawing the manufacture and consumption of alcoholic beverages, which were viewed by many women to be a corrupt influence on American family life, was one such initiative. In 1874 a group of women established the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU); in 1895 the Anti-Saloon League was formed. Such societies found increasing support and eventually influenced legislators to take action, many of whom were "dry" (anti-alcohol) candidates that the societies had backed. Even President Woodrow Wilson (18561924) supported Prohibition, as one of the domestic policies of his New Freedom program.

After the amendment was passed, Congress passed the Volstead Act to enforce the law. But enforcement proved difficult for the government. There was a proliferation of bootleggers (who made their own moonshineillegal spirits, often distilled at night), rum runners (who imported liquor, principally from neighboring Canada and Mexico), and speakeasies (underground establishments that sold liquor to their clientele). More, organized crime soon controlled distribution of liquor in the country. Citizens had not lost their taste for alcoholic beverages.

The government now found itself with a bigger problem than prohibition of alcoholic beverages. As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police worked to control and end mob (organized crime) violence, and as the country suffered through the early years of the Great Depression, lawmakers in Washington reconsidered the amendment. On February 20, 1933, the U.S. Congress proposed that the Eighteenth Amendment be repealed. Approved by the states in December of that year, the Twenty-First Amendment declared the Eighteenth Amendment null. The manufacture, transportation, and consumption of alcoholic beverages was again legal in the United States; thus ended the 13-year period of Prohibition. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (193345), president at the time of repeal, called Prohibition a "noble experiment."

See also: Black Market, Prohibition, Twenty-first Amendment

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Eighteenth Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Eighteenth Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eighteenth-amendment

"Eighteenth Amendment." Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History. . Retrieved February 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eighteenth-amendment

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Eighteenth Amendment

EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT

The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:

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.

The Eighteenth Amendment was passed in 1919 and subsequently repealed in 1933.

The volstead act (41 Stat. 305 [1919]) was enacted pursuant to the Eighteenth Amendment to provide for enforcement of its prohibition. The 1933 ratification of the twenty-first

amendment in 1933 resulted in the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act.

cross-references

Alcohol.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Eighteenth Amendment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Eighteenth Amendment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eighteenth-amendment

"Eighteenth Amendment." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved February 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/eighteenth-amendment

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.