Prohibition History - Repeal
In 1959 an eyewitness to American Prohibition recalled the unbridled glee that spread throughout the land when the Noble Experiment called it quits (December 5, 1933):
"The legal celebrations that were held on the first night of repeal were mostly in keeping with the wet organizations' desire to show that this was an historic moment far more important for the freedom of choice it restored to the public. In New Orleans cannons were shot off, whistles blown and city-wide parades held to greet repeal. Boston bars, permitted by lenient local authorities to stock up with legal booze into the night, were so packed by ten o'clock that a latecomer was lucky to get inside the doors, much less get a drink. The next day there were long lines of 100 and more people in front of liquor stores from early morning until closing..."
What was to be done with all the racketeers who dominated the Twenties once Prohibition was prohibited? Organizing the collective labor of truck drivers seemed to have been the most obvious project for the kingpins, but what of the average foot soldier?
"Even the rank and file have not been driven to the breadline. Current quotations for gunmen have fallen from $300 a week to as low as $100. Plain sluggers command even scantier wages. A fancy pineapple job once cost $250; by 1933 you could get a good workman for $50."
During the action-packed opening months of the F.D.R. administration, Congress addressed the option of repealing Prohibition and allowing each state to decide whether it wished to be dry or wet:
"Now the people can decide, after more than thirteen years of Prohibition."
"Surprising the country, the lame-duck Congress, hereto staunchly dry, reverses itself 'in a stampede toward repeal,' to permit the people to decide Prohibition's fate."
The attached article is composed of numerous newspaper observations that appeared in print throughout April of 1933; these perceptions all pertain to the goings on that followed in the joyous wake of Prohibition's demise:
"'The return of beer has really been a remarkable phenomenon,' says The New York Evening Post.
'Not one of the bad effects predicted for it actually took place'."
"With the [Prohibition] Repeal, approximately one million people went back to work, making wine, beer and distilled spirits, bottles and barrels; transporting, selling and serving and advertising it. Innumerable industries indirectly connected with liquor, such as printing, building and machinery-making, received a sharp stimulus. With Repeal also, sorely needed tax money started to roll into the public coffers. Since 1933 more than two billion dollars in liquor taxes has gone into national, state and local treasuries..."
"Americans on December 5  will look backwards to a dramatic night 10 years ago - many will be surprised that a whole decade has passed since the nation abandoned Prohibition... In the early '30s, Congressman LaGuardia found authorities siphoning an estimated million dollars a day in graft from bootleggers. Cost of the 'Noble Experiment' to the government hovered around a billion dollars a year. In the last 14 Prohibition years, the public was figured to have spent more than $36,000,000,000 for bootlegging and smuggled liquor!"
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