At 5:32 p.m. December 5, 1933, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment, giving prohibition opponents the three-fourths majority needed to repeal the 18th Amendment, ending the national prohibition of alcohol in the United States of America.
The Volstead Act–passed in Congress on October 28, 1919 and co-authored by Minnesota native Andrew Volstead–had subjected American drinkers to 13 years of repression. The legal prohibition of alcohol in the U.S. was a contentious topic, to say the least. By the mid-1920s, several prominent figures had begun to publicly criticize the fundamentals of “The Noble Experiment.”
Writer Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken famously wrote in 1925:
Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect; they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished.
When America’s economy began to take a turn for the worse in 1929 and the Great Depression took hold, the country’s citizens still weren’t allowed to drown their sorrows with a legal drink, and sentiment had seemingly tipped to the side of repeal.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign promise of repeal was almost certainly a catalyst for the Governor of New York’s journey to the White House. FDR kept his promise and in March of 1933 the President took to the airwaves for one of his famous “Fireside Chats” to proclaim, “I think this would be a good time for a beer!”
More than 80 years later December 5 has become a day to celebrate the liberties afforded us by opponents of prohibition. So today, raise a glass to those who fought for these freedoms. Below are a few craft cocktails from our friends at Easy & Oskey to help you celebrate the culture of craft beverages this weekend.
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