Prohibition

With the rise of the temperance movement in the 1800s, the consumption of alcohol became a hotly debated topic in the United States. As the movement gained support on Capitol Hill, Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors” in America. Despite the ratification of prohibition, debate continued until the amendment was repealed in 1933.

Maryland Representative John Philip Hill threw a huge party to protest Prohibition in 1924. He made hard cider in his Baltimore basement and invited more than 500 people./tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_good-fellow.xml Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Maryland Representative John Philip Hill threw a huge party to protest Prohibition in 1924. He made hard cider in his Baltimore basement and invited more than 500 people.

Historical Summaries

The Volstead Act
A historical highlight introducing the National Prohibition Act, also known as the Volstead Act.

Prohibitions Dries Up
An online exhibition showing early women Representatives’ responses to Prohibition.

The Ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment
A historical highlight about the resolution that kicked-off the end of Prohibition.

Primary Sources

Student Resolution for Prohibition
A group of high school students from Flemington, New Jersey, submitted this 1917 resolution supporting a bill in support of the prohibition of alcohol to conserve resources during World War I.

Urging Prohibition during Wartime
The secretary of the Rotary Club of Pittsburgh wrote this letter in 1917 recommending that the manufacture of drinking alcohol be halted in order to preserve sparse resources for the war effort.

Letter against Prohibition
Otto E. Schulz of Milwaukee wrote this letter to William J. Cary, a Representative from Wisconsin, in 1917 to express opposition to a Prohibition amendment to the Constitution.

Letter in Favor of Prohibition
In 1917, the Old-Time Printers’ Association of Chicago sent a letter in support of Prohibition to Illinois Representative Charles Eugene Fuller.

Joint Resolution Prohibiting Drunkenness
In 1938, only five years after the repeal of Prohibition, Congressman Gomer Griffith Smith of Oklahoma introduced H. J. Res. 661, proposing a constitutional amendment that would prohibit drunkenness.

Blogs

Legislating the Liquor Law—Prohibition and the House
A blog focusing on the debate in Congress over how to enforce the law prohibiting the sale and transportation of alcohol.

Unprohibited
A blog detailing the slow process of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment.

Wine and Cider Made in Homes Adjudged Legal
<i>Wine and Cider Made in Homes Adjudged Legal</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_prohib-cider.xml
Maryland Representative John Philip Hill challenged the restrictive laws of Prohibition. In 1924, he made hard cider in his Baltimore cellar and threw a huge party, inviting the Commissioner of Prohibition.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Opposition to Prohibition
<i>Opposition to Prohibition</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_prohib-opposition.xml
As the debates over Prohibition grew more bitter, Congressmen Fiorello La Guardia and William Sirovich employed every means at their disposal, including a foul-smelling additive to industrial alcohol.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Waiting for Outcome of Repeal Vote in House
<i>Waiting for Outcome of Repeal Vote in House</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_prohib-repeal.xml
In 1933, the Senate voted to repeal the 18th Amendment, and four days later, the House agreed. This image shows the large crowd outside the House Chamber, waiting for word of the House’s decision.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Quaffing After Passing
<i>Quaffing After Passing</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_prohib-quaf.xml
Celebrating a victory over Prohibition, Representative John J. O’Connor grinned as he filled his cup with Royal Pilsner from a keg, while other Members waited their turn for a drink.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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Celebrate the Release of Gin for Thirsty Drinkers
<i>Celebrate the Release of Gin for Thirsty Drinkers</i>/tiles/non-collection/n/nhd_prohib-gin.xml
After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, the public celebrated the first legal sales of alcohol in 13 years. In this photo, Representative Fred Britten cuts a ceremonial ribbon at the Continental Distillery in December 1933.
Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
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