Sunday, 5 December 2010

77 Years since the USA became cool again.

Ahoyhoy internets, today we celebrate a great day for our cousins on the other side of the pond -or well...ON that side of the pond if you are actually American- Yes, we just HAD to feature something about this momentous day on CSNS and proudly so.

Today marks 77 years since the end of prohibition in America, the day the states became cool again. Let's explore a little bit about The Noble Experiment and it's history and see the effect that it has had on the drinking habbits of the world today.

Under substantial pressure from the temperance movement, the United States Senate proposed the Eighteenth Amendment on December 18, 1917. Having been approved by 36 states, the 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919 and effected on January 16, 1920.

National Prohibition Act, passed through Congress over President Woodrow Wilson's veto on October 28, 1919, and established the legal definition of intoxicating liquor, as well as penalties for producing it. Though the Act prohibited the sale of alcohol, the federal government did little to enforce it. By 1925, in New York City alone, there were anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 speakeasy clubs.

While Prohibition was successful in reducing the amount of liquor consumed, it tended to undermine society by other means, as it stimulated the proliferation of rampant underground, organized and widespread criminal activity. Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, especially in large cities.

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law an amendment to the National Prohibition Act, allowing the manufacture and sale of certain kinds of alcoholic beverages. On December 5, 1933, the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth Amendment. However, United States federal law still prohibits the manufacture of distilled spirits without meeting numerous licensing requirements that make it impractical to produce spirits for personal beverage use.

Many social problems have been attributed to the Prohibition era. Mafia groups limited their activities to gambling and theft until 1920, when organized bootlegging manifested in response to the effect of Prohibition. A profitable and often violent, black market for alcohol flourished. Powerful gangs corrupted law enforcement agencies, leading to racketeering. Stronger liquor surged in popularity because its potency made it more profitable to smuggle. When repeal of Prohibition occurred in 1933, organized crime lost nearly all of its black market alcohol profits in most states because of competition with low-priced alcohol sales at legal liquor stores.

Prohibition also had a large effect on the music industry in the United States, specifically with jazz. Speakeasies became far more popular during that time and the effects of the Great Depression caused a migration that led to a greater dispersal of jazz music. Movement began from New Orleans and went north through Chicago and to New York. This also meant developing different styles in the different cities. Because of its popularity in speakeasies and the development of more advanced recording devices, jazz became very popular very fast. It was also at the forefront of the minimal integration efforts going on at the time, as it united mostly black musicians with mostly white crowds.

The cost of enforcing Prohibition was high, and the lack of tax revenues on alcohol - to the tune of$500 million annually - affected government coffers.

Prohibition had a notable effect on the alcohol brewing industry in the United States. When Prohibition ended, only half the breweries that previously existed reopened. The post-Prohibition period saw the introduction of the American lager style of beer, which dominates today. Wine historians also note Prohibition destroyed what was a fledgling wine industry in the United States. Productive wine quality grape vines were replaced by lower quality vines growing thicker skinned grapes that could be more easily transported. Much of the institutional knowledge was also lost as winemakers either emigrated to other wine producing countries or left the business altogether.

So there we have it! America, I salute you for enduring years of hardship so that we could all see that prohibition was a really, really, really dumb idea. I plan on celebrating this tonight at an awesome bartender party in Glasgow, and you should too -in a suit-

The land of the free and the home of the sauced! I salute you America
Love, Dave


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