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The temperance movement, a movement aiming to prohibit alcoholic beverages in the United States with the reason that alcohol could be attributed to physical abuse, crime, and immorality, led to the passing of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. An amendment is an alteration or addition made to a constitution, statute, legislative bill, or resolution. The 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of liquor and was in effect for 13 years, but was ineffective in its aim, as illegal sale of alcohol continued and other unexpected consequences arose. The 21st Amendment was then passed to repeal the 18th Amendment, bringing an end to the Prohibition era.
See the fact file below for more information on the 21st Amendment or alternatively, you can download our 22-page The 21st Amendment worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE 18TH AMENDMENT: PROHIBITION OF LIQUOR
- After decades of effort by the temperance movement, the Congress passed the 18th Amendment in December 1917, and it was ratified on January 29, 1919. It prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol within the country and would take effect the following January.
- The National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act, was enacted in 1919 to further enforce Prohibition.
- People continued to drink alcohol even with its prohibition. People found loopholes in the amendment, such as buying sacramental wine or medicinal whiskey, as liquor for religious or medicinal purposes was not banned.
- Bootlegging, the illegal sale of alcohol, prevailed. Bootleggers produced liquor that contained industrial alcohol, which is usually used in medical supplies and fuels.
- In an effort to discourage people from buying from bootleggers, the government required companies to add toxic chemicals to alcohol. However, instead of stopping people from buying, this led to injuries and deaths of those who bought the poisoned alcohol.
- Through organized crime, gangsters controlled the bootlegging businesses, which led to gang wars.
- The 18th Amendment had not curbed the sale, production, and consumption of alcohol. Organized crime flourished, and tax revenues decreased. The closure of saloons, distilleries, and breweries led to the unemployment of many people.
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
- A worldwide economic depression known as the Great Depression occurred from 1929 to 1939, originating in the United States. It led to the unemployment of many. By 1932, it reached its lowest point. Around 15 million Americans were unemployed, and almost half of the banks in the U.S. had failed.
- President Herbert Hoover believed that the government must not directly be involved in the country’s economy and that it was not responsible for finding jobs for citizens.
- During his campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the repeal of the 18th Amendment. Many also argued that the repeal of the said amendment would help provide jobs to many. Roosevelt won the presidential election in 1932.
- Before Prohibition, a lot of states relied on excise taxes on liquor sales for their budgets. As Prohibition took effect, it cost the government a total of $11 billion in tax revenue and cost more than $300 million to enforce.
- Some argued that legalizing alcohol would provide the needed jobs and tax revenue, as Prohibition had forced many employees out of their jobs that were supplied by what used to be the fifth-largest industry in the U.S.
ROOSEVELT’S NEW DEAL
- The New Deal program was President Roosevelt’s program aiming to take immediate action for the country’s economic relief.
- Before Roosevelt took office, Congress approved a resolution that proposed the 21st Amendment in February 20, 1933, which would repeal the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.
- After taking office, Roosevelt signed the Beer and Wine Revenue Act in March 1933. This amended the Volstead Act, permitting the manufacture and sale of low-alcohol beer and wines. It also imposed tax on alcoholic beverages to increase revenue for the federal government.
- By December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified by the required number of states, with Utah being the last state to ratify it.
- The 21st Amendment was the first and only amendment that repealed another amendment. It repealed the 18th Amendment, which was ratified 14 years prior.
CONTENTS OF THE 21ST AMENDMENT
- The full text of the amendment states:
- “Section 1—The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
- “Section 2—The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
- “Section 3—This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in 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 first section indicates that the 18th Amendment is repealed.
- Section 2 prohibits importing alcohol into states that still have laws that ban the importation or consumption of alcohol.
- The third section indicates that the 21st Amendment must be ratified through state conventions within seven years of its submission.
- Surprisingly, after the 21st Amendment was ratified, reports showed that arrests for drunkenness had no difference from a usual weekend during Prohibition.
- This may be because the repeal was only immediately effective in 18 states. Some states continued to ban liquor despite the 21st Amendment. For example, Kansas didn’t lift its liquor ban until 1948. Oklahoma stayed dry until 1959. Mississippi remained alcohol free until 1966.
- A possible reason for the lack of celebration for the 21st Amendment may be that Americans continued to drink during Prohibition anyway, with the bootlegging businesses keeping people supplied with alcohol.
- However, the end of Prohibition did well for the government. In the first year after the repeal, more than $258 million was collected in alcohol taxes, which was almost 9% of the government’s tax revenue.
- Organized crime was prevalent during Prohibition. However, its end forced gangsters to look for different ways to find profit, such as loan sharking, labor racketeering, and drug trafficking. Drug trafficking became organized crime’s biggest business by the end of the 20th century.
- Today, there are still 10 states containing counties that continue to prohibit alcohol sale.
The 21st Amendment Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the 21st Amendment across 22 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use The 21st Amendment worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the temperance movement, a movement aiming to prohibit alcoholic beverages in the United States with the reason that alcohol could be attributed to physical abuse, crime, and immorality, led to the passing of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. An amendment is an alteration or addition made to a constitution, statute, legislative bill, or resolution. The 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, transportation, and sale of liquor and was in effect for 13 years, but was ineffective in its aim, as illegal sale of alcohol continued and other unexpected consequences arose. The 21st Amendment was then passed to repeal the 18th Amendment, bringing an end to the Prohibition era.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- The 21st Amendment Facts
- A Closer Look
- FDR’s Deals
- Prohibition Dictionary
- Right or Wrong?
- Combat the Cons
- Before and After
- Cause and Effect
- Life Without Liquor
- Scarface’s Rule
- The Great Depression
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Use With Any Curriculum
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