1919: The requisite number of State legislatures ratified the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enabling national Prohibition to become the law of the land.
Supporters of Prohibition believed banning alcoholic beverages would reduce or even eliminate many social problems, particularly drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty.
1925: Journalist H.L. Mencken noted that five years of Prohibition had succeeded in completely disproving the Prohibitionists’ favorite arguments.
“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.”
Support for Prohibition eroded among voters and politicians. Against expectations, many women also supported repeal, again because of seeing the destructiveness of the law itself.
Even John D. Rockefeller Jr., a lifelong nondrinker who had contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars toward getting Prohibition passed, switched sides after seeing the widespread problems it caused.
1932: Democrats, including their presidential candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaigned on repealing the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The next year, both chambers of Congress and the requisite number of State legislatures ratified the Twenty-first Amendment, which repealed Prohibition.
December 5, 1933: All Federal Prohibition laws were officially repealed.
Please note: Prohibition was both passed and repealed by amending the Constitution, which can be done in only one of two ways:
- Two-thirds of the House of Representatives, two-thirds of the Senate and three-fourths of the various State legislatures must all agree to vote for the amendment. This is the method used to both pass and repeal Prohibition and is, in fact, the only one used to date.
- Congress can be by-passed if two-thirds of the State legislatures call for a Constitutional Convention, then amendments proposed at the Convention are ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures.