97 Years Ago America’s ‘Noble Experiment’ Began
On January 16, 1920, The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcohol became the law of the land. It was the beginning of the era known as Prohibition. How did we get to this point in American history?
For the answer, you have to go back to the end of the American Revolution. It appears that following that war, America had a drinking problem. To address this problem, a number of movements were organized, which attempted to dissuade people from becoming intoxicated.
As early as 1773, John Wesley, founder of Methodism, preached that drinking was sinful. His sermons told of the effects of drunkenness of the family unit. His efforts were mainly directed at men, as they were the ones hanging out in places like saloons and taverns.
Add to this, the fact that during this period, women had only limited rights to divorce or custody, or even the ability to control their own earnings. Plus there was growing evidence of the medical effects of alcohol. All this combined, prompted efforts to convince individuals to "take the pledge" to abstain from alcohol.
More on the Temperance Movements, tomorrow.