The Temperance Movement

Events

Increased Calls For Temperance

1820 - 1830

A wave of religious revivalism swept the United States, leading to increased calls for temperance. As well as other “perfectionist” movements such as the abolition of slavery.

Massachusetts Passes A Temperance Law

1838

The state of Massachusetts passed a temperance law banning the sale of spirits in less than 15-gallon quantities; though the law was repealed two years later, it set a precedent for such legislation.

More Prohibition Laws Passed

1846 - 1861

Maine passed the first state prohibition law in 1846. A number of other states had followed suit by the time the Civil War began in 1861.

Anti-Saloon League

1893

The League, and other organizations that supported prohibition such as the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, soon began to succeed in enacting local prohibition laws. Eventually the prohibition campaign was a national effort.

Temporary Hold To Ban

1917

After the United States entered World War I, President Woodrow Wilson instituted a temporary wartime prohibition in order to save grain for producing food. That same year, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment, which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors, for state ratification.

18th Amendment

1918

Congress passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages. States ratified the Amendment the next year.

Amendment In Effect

January 29, 1919

The 18th Amendment went into effect a year late. By which time no fewer than 33 states had already enacted their own prohibition legislation.

Lack Of Support

1920

neither group of leaders was especially successful. The educators never received the support for the campaign that they dreamed about; and the law Enforcers were never able to persuade government officials to mount a wholehearted enforcement campaign against illegal suppliers of beverage alcohol.

St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

1929

In addition, the Prohibition era encouraged the rise of criminal activity associated with bootlegging. Such illegal operations fueled a corresponding rise in gang violence. including the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago in 1929, in which several men dressed as policemen, shot and killed a group of men in an enemy gang.

18th Amendment Repealed

1930

Enforcement of prohibition became very difficult. A majority of Americans had tired of the noble experiment, and the 18th Amendment was repealed.