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Time Period
1920  - 1933
The temperance movement, a largely religious campaign against the evils of intoxication, is credited with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibited the making and selling of alcoholic beverages. Viewing the negative impact of alcohol on families, Christian ministers and women pushed for a ban on alcohol across the country.

Prohibition took effect in January 1920, and soon after an underground economy of bootleggers and speakeasies sprang up around the country to make and serve illegal liquor. Organized crime, particularly the Mafia, controlled much of this illegal industry.

In Chicago, gangster Al Capone’s illegal empire earned some 60 million dollars annually. The Prohibition era also saw a surge in gambling and prostitution.

The so-called 'noble experiment' of Prohibition was dealt a final blow in the Great Depression, with the argument that legalizing alcohol again would create much-needed new jobs and tax revenue. The 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment in 1933.
Interactive Timeline(s)
Prominent Religious Events and People in American History
Social Movements and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Race/Ethnicity and Religion
Women and Religion
Baptist Religious Events and People in American History
Catholic Religious Events and People in American History
Methodist Religious Events and People in American History
Presbyterian Religious Events and People in American History
Temperance Movement

Orange County sheriffs dumping illegal booze- Photo courtesy Orange County Archives (CC BY 2.0)

Detroit police inspecting clandestine brewery equipment- National Archive and Records Administration

Pouring liquor into the sewers during the height of Prohibition- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-123257

Rum runner with contraband on deck- United States Coast Guard photo

Policeman standing alongside wrecked car and cases of moonshine- Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-96757
Web Source(s)
The History Channel, "18th and 21st Amendments"
Web Page Contributor
Sandi Dolbee
Affliated with: Former Religion and Ethics Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune

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