4 Trivia Questions about the Repeal of Prohibition

If December 5th isn't a holiday you celebrate, it probably should be. On this day in 1933, we ratified the 21st amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment, thus ending prohibition. Join us in honoring the anniversary with a few trivia questions.


What Exactly Was "Prohibition" and What Was It Supposed to Do? # Illegal alcohol production flourished, and local law enforcement had to repeatedly dump what they confiscated into sewers. Photo source: Orange County Archives/Flickr. Prohibition was the result of the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the production, sale, and transport of alcohol for mass consumption. It actually wasn't illegal to drink alcohol; you just couldn't set up a brewery and sell to the masses, nor could you open a bar where crowds could imbibe. Prohibition was created because of the societal and personal problems that alcohol consumption repeatedly brought about. In the 1800s, several temperance, or anti-alcohol, organizations formed to combat drunkenness and promote sobriety. In the early 1900s, the government sincerely hoped that removing alcohol from society would bring about great improvement. Prohibition was supposed to shore up the economy, too, as those who could no longer spend on alcohol would instead spend on sodas, juice, and necessary household goods.

What State Was Still Dry Until 1966? Some states remained dry after 1933, using their own prohibition laws. Kansas stayed a dry state until 1948, and Oklahoma until 1959. But the longest holdout was Mississippi, which remained a dry state all the way until 1966. Even today, ten states have counties where the sale of alcohol is prohibited.


What Earlier Event Signaled the Repeal of Prohibition Would Likely Pass? # Despite strong initial support for Prohibition in the 1910s, the government was ready to repeal the 18th Amendment by the 1930s. Photo source: Tullio Saba/Flickr. The vote on the 21st Amendment is typically seen as the end of Prohibition, but an act passed earlier in 1933 allowed people to have wine and beer with a low alcohol content of 3.2 percent. The Cullen-Harrison Act, signed in April, made those two types of alcohol legal again to the relief of those who were tired of the no-alcohol beer that was previously the only legal version available. Given that President Franklin Roosevelt had won the election with the support of those who wanted to end Prohibition, the passing of the Cullen-Harrison Act was an obvious sign that things would soon change for those who wanted to drink.

What Gift Did August Busch's Kids Give Their Father to Celebrate Repeal of Prohibition? # A big supporter of the end of prohibition. There was probably no one happier about the 21st Amendment than the beer makers. And August Busch (the guy who started the Budweiser beer company) was just one of many in a good mood. His kids decided to honor the big day by giving him a six-horse Clydesdale hitch. So yes, we owe all those Clydesdale Super Bowl ads to the 21st Amendment. Seeing how marketable the horses were, Busch sent them on parade, even using them to deliver a ceremonial case of Budweiser to Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

Roosevelt was a fitting recipient. The 32nd president was another person who was pretty happy about the 21st Amendment. When he came into office, he made it a priority to get alcohol sales going again, calling the Cullen-Harrison Act "of the highest importance."

Whether it was such a high priority because it got alcohol businesses back to work and tax revenue back in the government's coffers amidst the Great Depression (as FDR said) or because Roosevelt (known to enjoy a drink as much as the next guy) just wanted people to able to throw back a brew is something we'll let you debate. Either way, it didn't matter. The 21st Amendment was over and as Roosevelt himself put it, "What America needs now is a drink." 

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