Monday, January 16, 2012

18 to 21

Ninety three years ago today, on January 16th 1919, Nebraska ratified the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Though ten more of the forty eight states would ratify the amendment Nebraska was the last state needed to make the amendment law. Only two states rejected the amendment: Connecticut and Rhode Island.

At midnight almost a year later (January 17th 1920) the Volstead act (National Prohibition Act) went into effect, and prohibition was the law of the land. The Volstead act detailed the particulars for enforcement and interpretation of the 18th amendment. The Volstead act would eventually allow up to 200 gallons of wine to be made in a home each year for personal consumption (that is about 1,000 bottles), and establish a medical prescription mechanism for distributing whiskey.

Fifty-nine minutes after the Volstead went into effect six armed men hijacked two freight-trains loaded with “medical whiskey”.

Just fourteen years later the entire eighteenth amendment would be repealed by ratification of the twenty-first amendment. Only one state, South Carolina, rejected the twenty first amendment. Utah was the last state whose ratification was needed to make the twenty first amendment law. Utah ratified the twenty first amendment on December 5th 1933. Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, both Dakotas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia have never ratified the twenty first amendment.

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