The 18th amendment is the only amendment to be repealed from the constitution. This unpopular amendment banned the sale and drinking of alcohol in the United States. This amendment took effect in 1919 and was a huge failure. Not only did regular people find other ways to drink alcohol, criminals made a lot of money selling alcohol to those people. The 21st amendment repeals the 18th amendment in 1933, and today we call the period that the 18th Amendment was law Prohibition.
The 18th amendment was not always unpopular. In fact, some states had already banned alcohol before the 18th amendment. Before the 18th amendment became law, religious activists, famously women but also some men, blame alcohol for violence and other problems that were affecting American families. They would take axes and other weapons and attack saloons or other places that stored alcohol, destroying all of it. The motivation for the 18th amendment was inspired by these activists and their desire to make a better society by outlawing alcohol. We now know that the 18th amendment failed and in fact, made things worse.
Let’s explain the text of the 18th amendment.
After one year from the ratification of this article…
(the 18th amendment would go into effect one year after the states ok’ed it)
…the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited…
(selling, making, or bring liquor into the country or United States territory, will be made illegal)
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Congress can pass any laws it needs to make sure that this law is enforced and alcohol is not consumed illegally)
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
(this amendment needs to be ratified by ¾ of the states within seven years of it will become invalid)
What were the effects of the 18th amendment?
Mississippi was the first state to accept the amendment, in 1918 and New Jersey was the last, in 1922, at number 46. By then the majority had already been reached. After the 18th amendment, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which set the date for prohibition at January 17, 1920. This act also defined strict limits on beverages containing alcohol, ensuring that the content would be no more than .5%. The Volstead Act contained the provisions to enforce the 18th amendment on Americans. This Act did allow for some alcohol to be kept as “medicine” and for “research,” and this was often exploited.
The 18th amendment gave rise to the gangsters of the 1920s that made a huge profit selling illegal alcohol. Such was this disaster that the government would finally agree to get rid of Prohibition and the 18th amendment ten years later.