The Eighteenth Amendment (Amendment XVIII) of the United States Constitution effectively established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States by declaring the production, transport, and sale of alcohol (though not the consumption or private possession) illegal. The separate Volstead Act set down methods for enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition (e.g., for medical and religious purposes). The Amendment was the first to set a time delay before it would take effect following ratification, and the first to set a time limit for its ratification by the states. The requisite number of states had ratified it by January 16, 1919, with the amendment taking effect on January 16, 1920.
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 the 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.
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The Eighteenth Amendment was the result of decades of effort by the temperance movement in the United States and at the time was generally considered a progressive amendment. Starting in 1906, the Anti-Saloon League (ASL) began leading a campaign to ban the sale of alcohol on a state level. They led speeches, advertisements, and public demonstrations, claiming that banning the sale of alcohol would get rid of poverty and social issues, such as immoral behavior and violence. A well-known reformer during this time period was Carrie Amelia Moore Nation, whose violent actions (such as vandalizing saloon property) made her a household name across America.
Many state legislatures had already enacted statewide prohibition prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment but did not ban the consumption of alcohol in most households. By 1916, 23 of 48 states had already passed laws against saloons, some even banning the manufacture of alcohol in the first place.
On August 1, 1917, the Senate passed a resolution containing the language of the amendment to be presented to the states for ratification. The vote was 65 to 20, with the Democrats voting 36 in favor and 12 in opposition; and the Republicans voting 29 in favor and 8 in opposition. The House of Representatives passed a revised resolution on December 17, 1917.
In the House, the vote was 282 to 128, with the Democrats voting 141 in favor and 64 in opposition; and the Republicans voting 137 in favor and 62 in opposition. Four Independents in the House voted in favor and two Independents cast votes against the amendment. It was officially proposed by the Congress to the states when the Senate passed the resolution, by a vote of 47 to 8, the next day, December 18.
The amendment and its enabling legislation did not ban the consumption of alcohol, but made it difficult to obtain alcoholic beverages legally, as it prohibited the sale and distribution of them in U.S. territory.
The ratification of the Amendment was completed on January 16, 1919, when Nebraska became the 36th of the 48 states then in the Union to ratify it. On January 29, acting Secretary of State Frank L. Polk certified the ratification.
The following states ratified the amendment:
The following states rejected the amendment:
To define the language used in the Amendment, Congress enacted enabling legislation called the National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act, on October 28, 1919. President Woodrow Wilson vetoed that bill, but the House of Representatives immediately voted to override the veto and the Senate voted similarly the next day. The Volstead Act set the starting date for nationwide prohibition for January 17, 1920, which was the earliest date allowed by the 18th Amendment.
The proposed amendment was the first to contain a provision setting a deadline for its ratification. That clause of the amendment was challenged, with the case reaching the US Supreme Court. It upheld the constitutionality of such a deadline in Dillon v. Gloss (1921). The Supreme Court also upheld the ratification by the Ohio legislature in Hawke v. Smith (1920), despite a petition requiring that the matter go to ballot.
This was not the only controversy around the amendment. The phrase "intoxicating liquor" would not logically have included beer and wine, and their inclusion in the prohibition came as a surprise to the general public, as well as wine and beer makers.
Just after the Eighteenth Amendment's adoption, there was a significant reduction in alcohol consumption among the general public and particularly among low-income groups. However, consumption soon climbed as underworld entrepreneurs began producing "rotgut" alcohol. Ultimately, during prohibition use and abuse of alcohol ended up higher than before it started.
Likewise, there was a initial reduction in overall crime, mainly in the types of crimes associated with the effects of alcohol consumption, though there were significant increases in crimes involved in the production and distribution of illegal alcohol. Those who continued to use alcohol, tended to turn to organised criminal syndicates, who were able to take advantage of uneven enforcement, suddenly overwhelmed police forces, and corruptible public officials to establish powerful, murderous smuggling networks. The murder rate fell for two years, but then rose to record highs, a trend that reversed the very year prohibition ended. Overall, crime rose 24%, including increases in assault and battery, theft, and burglary.
Anti-prohibition groups arose and worked to have the amendment repealed, once it became apparent that Prohibition was an unprecedented catastrophe.
The Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 5, 1933. The amendment remains the only constitutional amendment to be repealed in its entirety; leaving only the power to regulate transportation solely to the federal government.
[I]t took until 1922 for the forty-sixth state, New Jersey, to ratify, and Connecticut and Rhode Island would never do so.- via HeinOnline (subscription required)