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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

PROHIBITION AMENDMENT - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The PROHIBITION AMENDMENT, outlawing the manufacture, transport, and sale of alcoholic beverages, was enforced in Ohio 27 May 1919-23 Dec. 1933--nearly 8 months longer than the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its enforcing Volstead Act. When state prohibition began in 1919, most Cleveland liquor dealers either sold or stored their stocks and closed, or sold nonalcoholic drinks. About 50 of 1,028 bars stayed open. However, liquor could be easily purchased in the Cleveland area in spite of federal, state, and local attempts to enforce the law. As initial stocks dwindled, forged permits to legal warehouses, bootlegging, and area stills provided new sources. Alcohol was brought to Cleveland from Canada across Lake Erie.

An estimated 30,000 Clevelanders were selling liquor in 1923, 10,000 stills were operating, and 100,000 were violating the law at home. Prohibition was never popular in Cleveland; the public resented liquor wars and raids, and in the late 1920s repeal sentiment grew as enforcement waned. Clevelander ROBT. J. BULKLEY† was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1930 on a platform calling for prohibition's repeal. After Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1932 presidential victory, Congress passed the 21st amendment repealing Prohibition, 20 Feb. 1933, and Ohio voters approved it 8 months later.

Last Modified: 22 Jul 1997 10:53:47 AM

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