Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors

Prohibition of Intoxicating Liquors

( – At one point in time, the sale, distribution and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages was prohibited by the federal government under the 18th Amendment of the Constitution. As we know, alcohol is legal again, at least in most areas. This exception is because the 18th Amendment was repealed, the only instance of its kind. It was during prohibition when the federal government took some shady steps in an effort to reduce alcoholism.

The Noble Experiment

The prohibition of alcohol didn’t extend to people who consumed or produced alcohol for their own private needs. Furthermore, prohibition didn’t restrict the use of alcohol for medicinal or religious purposes. Unlike the amendments before it, the 18th set a time delay of one year before it took effect.

Despite having noble intentions, the 18th Amendment saw a rapid increase in crime as bootleggers quickly became popular. Due to the bootlegging business booming, the government took it upon itself to put an end to it via a rather dark method.

Not So Noble

In 1926, officials drafted a plan they had hoped would put an end not only to bootlegging, but also to alcohol consumption in general: poison the alcohol. That’s right, the US government poisoned alcohol, killing around 10,000 people who consumed the tainted product. The plan was simple: Bootleggers could renature alcohol from paint thinner, wood polish and other industrial chemicals. The government decided it would add methanol/methyl alcohol, a common antifreeze ingredient, to these industrial alcohols.

These newly added chemicals couldn’t be removed through the renaturing process, and as a result, anyone who consumed the alcohol got sick or died. When confronted about the problem, the government’s response was surprisingly cold: “You shouldn’t be consuming bootlegged alcohol.”

Ultimate Failure

While the 18th Amendment was created with good intentions, the government ultimately failed the people. Not only did Prohibition not work out, but the effort also intentionally hurt and killed American citizens over a personal agenda. It’s not surprising that the public’s trust in the government has greatly diminished over the years — although it’s unlikely that anything like this will happen again, at least at the federal level.

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