Twenty-Five Years After Repeal

Only nine months and fifteen days were required for the 48 states to ratify the repeal of the 18th amendment, then known as the Prohibition Amendment. This had been proposed by Congress on February 20, 1933 and the 21st amendment which repealed the 18th amendment was proclaimed adopted December 5, 1933. Thus 20 days before Christmas a mighty sluiceway was opened for the flow of beverage alcohol. Wines, whiskeys, brandies, and other hard liquors were again legally offered for sale. Meanwhile, by Congressional action on request of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, beer was permitted to be sold in April, 1933, or eight months prior to the actual repeal of the amendment. The brewing industry moved fast. Within 15 years the breweries in the United States produced 889,068,689 barrels of beer. Since each barrel holds 31 gallons, that meant 27,551,129,359 gallons.

The year 1958 thus brings an ominous 25th anniversary in American life. In this anniversary year a balance sheet of the American liquor situation makes dreadful reading.

Of course it must be acknowledged, and credit must be given where credit is due, that there are a few assets and credits, as well as huge liabilities and debits in this balance sheet.

The credit items are easily recognizable. (1) Repeal of the amendment, with the imposition of license fees, produced new revenue for municipal, state, and the federal governments. Since the year 1933 marked the bottom of the great depression, such additional revenue was heartily welcomed. Today the total number of taverns, saloons, bars, or what-have-you, plus retail stores that sell liquor, exceeds the combined total of churches and schools by nearly 30,000, and the ratio of liquor outlets to American ...

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