The “Noble Experiment”
Prohibition, or “the Noble Experiment,” as it was called by supporters took place between 1919 and 1933. During this period, the sale, manufacture, and distribution of alcohol were illegal in the United States. However, drinking alcohol was never made illegal under federal law. Nationwide prohibition did not begin in the United States until 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect, and was repealed 14 long years later with the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment.
The Prohibition Era
It quickly became clear that Prohibition was totally impractical when you have a vast land border. There simply were not enough agents to prevent alcohol being smuggled from Canada. As one commentator observed, “You can’t stop liquor from dripping through a dotted red line.” There are no figures for how much booze was smuggled over the Canadian border, but revenues from liquor taxes to the Canadian government increased fourfold during Prohibition, at the same time as consumption statistics suggest the quantity of spirits drunk by the Canadian population virtually halved.
On March 22, 1933, the inevitable happened and Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen–Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture, transportation, and sale of some alcoholic beverages. Prohibition was repealed at midnight on April 7, 1933. At 12.01 am , the brewers of Milwaukee and St Louis opened their gates and shipped 15 million bottles of beer. The first consignment from Anheuser-Busch was sent to the airport and onto the White House and to pro-repeal lobbyists in New York by the company’s new Clydesdale horses. Needless to say they were not the only people celebrating that night.