View Full Version : About Prohibition
I can not put the word "prohibition" together with the US I see from here today. So, what was the reason for prohibition during the early 20th. century? Politics, Economics, Religion, anything else?
Well, sometimes people talk about the prohibition times and I wonder it...
By the way, maybe this is not the righ place for this thread...I'm not sure, so please accept my apologies, if there's sth. wrong with this thread.
Not really, but who wants to hear about post war isolationism and conservatism.:stickpoke:
Everyone knows I'm a big fan of Chuck Cowdery's recent book, "Bourbon, Straight" and in this area not least there is an excellent overview of National Prohibition, inaugurated by the Volstead Act in about 1919, and "Why?".
Here's the short answer, as my book may be hard to find in Turkey.
Prohibition grew out of the same movement that had previously fought for the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women. Many of the same people participated in all three movements. For them it grew out out an old Enlightenment belief in the perfectability of human beings.
Another major factor was upper class Protestant nativists versus working class Catholic immigrants, primarily Germans, Irish and Italians, who seemed to like their beer and wine too much for the taste of their employers.
The Prohibitionists were also addressing some very real abuses, such as workers who would squander their pay on drink and gambling while their families went hungery. There was a gender war aspect to it, in that the Prohibition movement was heavily female while drinking, especially in public, was primarily a male preserve.
While Gary is correct that national Prohibition began with the Volstead Act in 1920, as many as half of the states had already instituted Prohibition within their own borders by then. For example, Tennessee passed it in 1910 for enactment the following year -- Jack Daniel's moved to St. Louis, only to have to move to Mexico several years later.
Certainly Prohibition had direct ties to the Puritanical strain of religionism that has been part of American culture from the start, especially in the South -- Mississippi didn't legalize liquor again till 1966 -- but there were many other facets to the temperance movement, too.
Note also that the temperance movement also had some influence in Europe - particularly with the ban of absinthe. This was a classic example of politics making strange bedfellows - the French winemakers, struggling to recover from the Phylloxera outbreak, and the temperance movement, teamed up and began a concerted propaganda campaign against absinthe, even resorting to junk science (feeding rats massive overdoses of thujone, for instance) to "prove" their trumped-up claims.
It didn't help that absinthe's popularity had attracted fly-by-night operations that substitued toxic compounds in place of the expensive botanicals that were needed to make proper absinthe.
What finally got the snowball rolling was Jean Lanfray's 1905 murder of his wife and child, and attempted suicide. Never mind that he had a creme de menthe, a cognac and soda, seven glasses of wine, coffe with brandy, another liter of wine, more brandy, no, it was the two glasses of absinthe that were to blame.
Only in the past few years has the ban been relaxed though it was never banned in Spain, Portugal, or the UK. In France it is still banned by name, but if the thujone falls within EU regulations and certain "weasel words" are used, it can still be sold - and it can be directly labeled "absinthe" if it's for export.
Some articles I've seen indicate that the best pre-ban absinthes had thujone levels well below today's EU limits.
I've never had the opportunity to try it, but I like pastis well enough that I wouldn't mind having some if I had the chance.
Here's the short answer, as my book may be hard to find in Turkey...
Thank you. Indeed, I don't think it's possible to find your book here. However, I think I'll place an order from amazon.com. I'm just examining the table of contents at the moment.
And, thanks everybody for the informative replies.
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