The Eighteenth Amendment to the US Constitution banned alcohol from 1920 to 1933. Sometimes called the “noble experiment,” this disastrous public policy reduced tax revenues, made gangsters rich, and failed to stop drinking. Alcohol consumption did drop some, but regular drinkers turned to bootleg liquor and moonshine. In the following interview the historian W. J. Rorabaugh discusses prohibition and its discontents.
American politics is frequently absurd, often zany, and sometimes downright crazy. Among the most outrageous past ideas was the legal Prohibition of alcohol, which was put into the US Constitution as the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920. Prohibition lasted until 1933, when the Twenty-First Amendment brought repeal and tight government regulation of alcohol.