SUBMITTED BY GAIL RIECKEN
It was on this day in 1919 that Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s veto and passed the Volstead Act, which provided for enforcement of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the sale of alcohol.
The prohibition movement had been led largely by women, who still had a hard time making a living on their own, and many had seen their lives ruined when their husbands squandered the family income on alcohol.
It’s commonly believed that prohibition didn’t really stop anyone from drinking and merely gave a boost to organized crime. That was true in big cities because they refused to enforce the law, but in rural America, prohibition was extremely effective.
Both cirrhosis death rates and admissions to state mental hospitals for alcoholism fell by more than fifty percent, and arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct went way down. But city newspapers focused on how easy it was to find alcohol. Even members of the United States Congress had a private country club where they drank liquor openly.