World War I broke out in 1914. Initially, USA remained neutral but ultimately, the country was forced to be a part of the war. As USA took part in the war, the US government under President Woodrow Wilson put a ban on the use of grains to make alcoholic drinks. This was done simply to preserve the supply of grain for more important uses, such as for food purposes. This was the informal beginning of the Prohibition.
Prohibition was a period in American history during which it was illegal for anyone in USA to make, sell and transport alcoholic drinks. This law was passed by the federal government, so it applied to all the states and was strictly observed. During this period, no one was allowed to sell alcoholic drinks at any shops or bars and anyone who was found selling them was punished according to the law.
When President Woodrow Wilson stopped the use of grains for production of alcohol during the World War I, it was the prelude to the Prohibition. Although President Wilson didn’t specifically ban the selling or buying of alcoholic drinks, many people in politics started thinking about banning alcohol-related businesses altogether.
These people were supported by others who thought drinking alcohol led to immoral acts and improper conduct. So after President Wilson’s ban, these people garnered a lot of support and the government finally passed the 18th Amendment on January 29, 1919. This amendment finally marked the beginning of the Prohibition Period.
Of course, not all people stopped drinking alcohol. Neither did all people stop producing or transporting alcohol. Because of the new law, people started producing, transporting and selling alcohol secretly. Alcohol was smuggled into cities and towns by bootleggers. These bootleggers sold it to the speakeasies. The speakeasies then sneaked the alcoholic drinks to different parts of a city or town, making it secretly available to anyone looking for it.
Many organized crime groups, usually called mafias, also started producing and selling alcohol in secret. Since they were officially illegal, alcoholic drinks fetched a good price. So selling alcohol made the criminal mafias quite rich. One famous example of such mafias was the group of Al Capone in Chicago.
During the Prohibition, alcoholic drinks continued to be produced and sold, although secretly. So the police had to do a lot of additional work. The ban on alcohol also allowed mafias to make more money. And as the mafias grew stronger, they used more violence and indulged in more criminal activities.
Finally, when the Great Depression began in the 1930s, there was a need to create more jobs. Also, the government knew that by legalizing alcohol and imposing higher taxes on it, government could raise a lot of money. So the ban on alcohol drinks was lifted and the government made it legal to sell alcohol in 1933. This was confirmed in the 21st Amendment and it marked the end of the Prohibition period.
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