The Story Of...Prohibition
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 18th amendment to the United States Constitution and the introduction of the Volstead Act, which made illegal the sale and consumption of alcohol.
For the next 13 years America was ostensibly 'dry,' except of course it really wasn't: prohibition pushed booze underground and, in a staggering example of the law of unintended consequences, prompted a series of societal changes that were entirely at odds with the goals of the temperance movement. Prohibition ushered in the 'Jazz Age' of conspicuous consumption and excess; it democratised the bar by transforming the traditional saloon frequented exclusively by men into the speakeasy, which welcomed men and women alike for the first time ever.
But why would millions of Americans - who put a premium on freedom and personal choice - willingly give up something they clearly loved doing? The answers are complicated and, for the most part, have absolutely nothing to do with a desire for temperance and much more to do with racism, prejudice and the growth of the women's movement.