1919 - 1933 AD, Prohibition in America

Federal Prohibition of Alcohol was part of the United States Constitution from 1919 to 1933. It was the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which made both commercial brewing and home brewing illegal.


The 18th Amendment was ratified (passed) on January 16, 1919, and prohibited the manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, or exportation of "Intoxicating Liquors," active one year later. Notice that it did not prohibit consumption. A Bill, the Volstead Act, complimented the 18th Amendment, defining "Intoxicating Liquors" as any beverage having more than 0.5% alcohol by volume.


A Bill, the Cullen-Harrison Act, was signed by FDR on March 23, 1933, which allowed beer and wine to have 3.2% alcohol by weight, active starting April 7, 1933. States then were able to legalize alcohol with their own laws, or modify the federal one, although some continued to prohibit it.

People lined up outside of taverns, breweries, and pubs on the night of April 6, 1933, anticipating their first legal beer in 13 years. At midnight, Americans erupted in celebration! Beer had been revitalized in America. The night of April 6th is annually known as New Beer's Eve, and April 7th is known as National Beer Day.

Eventually that year, the 21st Amendment was ratified, which repealed the 18th Amendment and declared the Volstead Act unconstitutional. This ended federal prohibition, and allowed states to control their laws on alcohol. It's the only instance of a constitutional amendment being repealed, and the only instance of the state ratifying convention being used to ratify a constitutional amendment.

Homebrewing remained illegal for another 45 years.

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