Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Repeal Day December 5, 1933

Its funny how some historical dates that would normally be relegated to the ashpile of history gets celebrated in the bar community. One such day is December 5th which is now known as Repeal Day. What was repealed? Ah, your High School and College United States History teachers and professors would be so upset at your for not knowing this. Well since I mentioned it, Repeal Day celebrates the repealing of that boondoggle known as the National Prohibition Act aka the Volstead Act aka simply as Prohibition and more specifically the The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States that caused this country to go "dry"...at least theoretically.

The Eighteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on December 18, 1917, ratified on January 16, 1919, with the law taking effect on January 17, 1920. The text of the Amendment called for the following:
  • Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article 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.
  • Section 2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
  • Section 3. 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.
As we all know from History books and movies, the enactment of Prohibition in the United States came about due to the rising influence of the Anti-Temperance movement (think of hatchet wielding Carrie Nation for an example) and its ratification in the form of the Eighteenth Amendment helped to aid in the rise of Organized crime. Those plucky gangsters saw the need for alcohol by ordinary citizens of this country and stepped in to fill the need by producing and shipping alcohol to the thirsty masses. It even got to the point that the population had to resort to frequenting places known as Speakeasies to have a drink illegally and going to such places as Canada, Mexico and Europe to enjoy their libations without breaking the law. Obviously I'm simplifying and downplaying the effects of the amendment but I don't want to bore all those who aren't History buffs.

Prohibition lasted until it was repealed with the Twenty-First Amendment. The Amendment was passed by Congress on February 20, 1933 and ratified on December 5, 1933. It's text called for the following to take effect:
  • Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.
  • Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
  • Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
Imagine the cheers from the population when they could enter a bar legally on December 5, 1993.


So in honor of this Historic date, bartenders and cocktailians throughout this country have taken to celebrating the repeal of Prohibition.

So go out there, find yourself a speakeasy and have yourself a Repeal Day cocktail.

Until Then, Happy Drinking
Sisco Vanilla

FYI: On a side note, The United States Congress enacted the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 21, 1933 and President Roosevelt signed into law the next day which called for the legalization, production and sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2% by weight which was known as the "3.2 beer". The act went into effect April 7, 1933. Now I found two more dates that we can celebrate in the bar business. As if we needed anymore of an excuse to celebrate. ;)