The Prohibition Era

Illegal spirits found in Detroit 10th December 1929 are poured out of the building into the sewers. "The Volstead Act" (official name: the National Prohibition Act of 1919) is an American regulation that was added to the US Constitution as the 18th Amendment. The purpose was to establish a national ban on alcoholic beverages, which was attributed to the law as follows:

“No person shall manufacture, sell, exchange, transport, import, export, supply, present or possess any alcoholic beverages except as permitted by this Act.”

The proposal was rejected by President Woodrow Wilson on October 28, 1919, on constitutional and ethical grounds, but the proposal was nevertheless approved by Congress the same day and became law in 1920.

Smuggling of spirits

Spirits were smuggled into the country from all borders. Tequila across the border into Mexico, rum from the Caribbean across the Gulf of Mexico, and everything Canada had to offer across their border. Crime increased in connection with prohibition, because gangsters who could obtain liquor suddenly had a good business. The best-known gangster was Al Capone, who had a monopoly on the sale of liquor in New York and Chicago. He earned staggering sums and the police could do nothing. It ended up that they had to get a little creative and convicted him of tax fraud in 1931, for which he received 8 years in prison.

Enterprising California grape growers at one time also had a business selling blocks of dried grapes that were pressed and sold along with yeast for wine-making. Along with the package, there was a warning advising against dissolving the dried grapes and yeast in hot water, as this would result in fermentation and thus alcohol, which was illegal.

The ban was repealed with the 21st amendment to the US Constitution, which came into force on 5 December 1933. The ban therefore lasted just under 14 years.

A relic from the time that we find interesting is that some American whiskey bottles are square. It's not something you think too much about, but the square shape made it easier to smuggle them, so they didn't rattle during transport. Although this is of course no longer a need, they have nevertheless chosen to retain the story. Examples of the square bottles are Jack Daniel's and Jim Beam.