Friday, January 16, 2015



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) The 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified by the required two-thirds majority of the states 96 years ago today, January 16, 1919. 

The 18th Amendment, Section 1 reads...

"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 territories subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.'

The amendment did not make illegal, however, the private possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages nor did it provide for its own enforcement. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of the law.

Prohibition Enforced
or as Otis Campbell of TV's Andy Griffith 
said...."Down the hatch!"

The 18th Amendment was the first to set a "time delay" before the law would go into effect after ratification.  Accordingly, Prohibition went into effect on January 16, 1920, one year after ratification.

The amendment, which passed Congress on December 18, 1907, was ratified by Nebraska, Missouri and Wyoming on January 16, 1919, giving the law the required 36 states out of 48.  

Two states, Connecticut and Rhode Island, rejected the amendment.

According to the Constitution Center, the 18th Amendment was the result of the work of the national temperance movement whose members believed alcohol use to be "reckless and destructive," and that Prohibition would "reduce crime and corruption" and "improve the health of all Americans."

The Center says that while the 18th Amendment decreased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related deaths, it also "drove the lucrative alcohol business underground...encouraged disrespect for the law, and strengthened organized crime."

On January 16, 1919, the Nation called for a nationwide popular vote on the 18th Amendment.  The magazine said...

"We are for the...amendment as long as it is law and for its rigid enforcement (but) we should like to see the question submitted today to a vote of all the people."

The Nation held the view that an affirmative popular vote, which it believed would be the case, would make the law's enforcement easier and even if the vote turned out negative..."in either case, the people would have spoken."


"January 16, 1919: The 18th Amendment Is Ratified, Prohibition of Alcohol Becomes Law," Richard Kreitne and The Almanac, January 16, 2005. www.the