Prohibition – OverSimplified

Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933.

Prohibitionists first attempted to end the trade in alcoholic drinks during the 19th century. Led by pietistic Protestants, they aimed to heal what they saw as an ill society beset by alcohol-related problems such as alcoholism, family violence, and saloon-based political corruption.

Detroit police inspecting equipment found in a clandestine underground brewery.

Many communities introduced alcohol bans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and enforcement of these new prohibition laws became a topic of debate. Prohibition supporters, called “drys”, presented it as a battle for public morals and health.

The movement was taken up by progressives in the Prohibition, Democratic and Republican parties, and gained a national grassroots base through the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. After 1900, it was coordinated by the Anti-Saloon League.

Opposition from the beer industry mobilized “wet” supporters from the wealthy Roman Catholic and German Lutheran communities, but the influence of these groups receded from 1917 following the entry of the U.S. into the First World War against Germany.