Alcohol History Dates: Is One Your Birthday? Anniversary?

Alcohol history dates are listed for events related to drinking in the US. The date of your birthday or anniversary isn’t listed? No problem. Resources for identifying other alcohol history dates are at the end of the list.


Alcohol History Dates

January in Alcohol History Dates

Jan. 1, 1801. The U.S. Federal duty on distilled spirits was abolished by Congress. It was at President Thomas Jefferson’s request.

Jan. 2, 1919. MI ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 3-5, 2014. CNN poll found that almost one in five adults in the U.S. thought alcohol should be illegal.

Jan. 7, 1919. OH and  OK ratified the 18th Amendment.

KKK supported Prohibition

Jan. 7, 1874. Lillian Sedwick was born. She was the leader of the Indianapolis area Women’s Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). She was also the state head of the Indiana state Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). A number of women were members of both the WKKK and the WCTU. That’s because the Klan was a very strong supporter and defender of Prohibition.

Jan. 8, 1918. MS, ID and ME ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 9, 1919. WV ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 11, 1918. VA ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 13, 1919. CA,  TN and WA ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 14, 1918. KY  ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 14, 1919.  ARIL, and IN ratified the 18th Amendment.

   Pierre S. du Pont

Jan. 15, 1870. Birth of Pierre S. du Pont. He was chair of the the influential United Repeal Council.

Jan. 15, 1919. AL ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 15, 1919. COIA, NH and OR ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 16, 1919. NC, NE, MO and WY ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 16, 1919. During the afternoon of the 16th, NE became the thirty-sixth state to ratify the 18th Amendment. That gave it the 3/4ths majority needed for enactment. This is one of the major alcohol history dates.

Jan. 17,1919. MN and WI ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 20,1919. NM ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 21,1919. NE ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 21, 1915. AL approved state-wide prohibition effective on July 1, 1916.

Jan. 24, 1934. Federal prohibition in DC repealed.

Jan. 26, 1890. Birth of publisher Charles Scribner III. He was a powerful  leaders in the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.

Jan. 28, 1918. ND ratified the 18th Amendment.

Jan. 29,1919. NY and VT ratified the 18th Amendment. On the same date a year earlier (1918), SC ratified it.

February in Alcohol History Dates

William E. Johnson (“Pussyfoot” Johnson)

Feb. 5, 1945. Death of famous temperance William E. (“Pussyfoot”) Johnson.  He was so well-known that his was a household name when he died. Pussyfoot  Johnson developed some of the tactics used in the Anti-Saloon League.

For example, he wrote to wet leaders, posing as a brewer and asked them for advice on how to defeat temperance activists. He then published the letters he received. Johnson was proud of his dishonesty. “Did I ever lie to promote prohibition? Decidedly yes. I have told enough lies for the cause to make Ananias ashamed of himself. (Ananias was a notorious liar in the Bible.)  He even wrote in an article titled “I Had to Lie, Bribe and Drink to Put Over Prohibition in America.” He was highly controversial.

Feb. 5, 1915. AR passed state-wide prohibition effective July 1, 1915.

Feb. 9, 1923.  A federal court convicted the high society LaMontages brothers on massive Prohibition violations. He sentenced them to prison. Their names were later dropped from the Social Register.

Feb. 13, 1826. The American Temperance Society was established.

Feb. 13, 1918. MD ratified the 18th Amendment.

   St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

St. Valentines Day Massacre

Feb. 14, 1929. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred. The violence between warring bootlegging gangs turned many people against National Prohibition.

Feb. 20, 1933, Congress enabled states to ratify the 21st Amendment if they chose.

Feb. 22, 1872. The Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America was formed.

Feb. 25, 1919. PA ratified the 18th Amendment.

Feb.  25, 1015. MN passed a county local option law.

March in Alcohol History Dates

March 1, 1913. Congress passed the Webb-Kenyon Act, which is still in effect. It prohibits interstate “shipment or transportation” of alcoholic beverages “in violation of any law of [any] State, Territory, or District of the United States.” The Webb-Kenyon Act was a victory for dry states. They could prohibit the importation of alcoholic beverages across their state lines.

March 2, 1934. Federal prohibition in Puerto Rico and the  Virgin Islands repealed.

Feb. 19, 1918. MT ratified the 18th.

   Bottled in Bond Act

March 3, 1897 At the request of distillers, Congress passed the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. This enabled them to assure the authenticity and quality standards of their products.  See The Guilded Age.

Bottled in Bond stamp

March 3, 1823. Birth of  ‘Dr.” Diocletian Lewis.  Lewis used the title Doctor and sometimes illegally practiced medicine without an M.D. or a license. Nevertheless, he used his title and oratorical gift effectively in promoting temperance. With a single speech, he ignited the Women’s Temperance Crusade.

A Cogswell fountain.

March 3, 1820. Birth of the eccentric but very rich Dr. Henry Cogswell. He believed that if people had cool drinking water they wouldn’t drink alcohol. So he built a number of fountains across the country.

He designed each to be unique, usually with a statue of himself on top. In the fountain to the right, water gushes out of the open mouths of fish on both sides. It then cascades down the sides of the fountain. For more about Cogwell’s and other temperance fountains, visit Temperance Places.

March 4, 1918. TX ratified the 18th Amendment.


March 5, 2007. It became legal to sell absinthe again in the U.S. after almost a century ban. French wine producers in the early 1900s suffered strong competition from the increasingly popular drink. So they promoted the myth that it was a dangerous  hallucinogen. So its sale was outlawed there and elsewhere. Problem solved.

March 9, 1922. NJ ratified the 18th Amendment, long after it was in effect.

March 18, 1918. DE ratified the 18th Amendment.

March 20, 1918. SD ratified the 18th Amendment.

Neal Dow

March 20, 1804. Birth of Neal Dow. He wrote and lobbied for the historic Maine Law. It was the first state-wide prohibition law in the US.

March 25, 1862. Birth of  William E. (“Pussyfoot”) Johnson. He was a leader of the very powerful Anti-Saloon League. See February 5, 1945 for more about what made Pussyfoot so very important to the prohibition movement.

March 26, 1934. Federal prohibition in the territory of Hawaii was repealed.

March 27, 1860. Patent No. 27,615 was granted to M.L. Byrn of New York City for a corkscrew.

April in Alcohol History Dates

April 1, 1918. State-wide prohibition went into effect in IN.

April 2, 1918. MA ratified the 18th Amendment.

April 2, 1862. Birth of  of Nicholas Murray Butler. He was a diplomat, president of Columbia University, and Repeal leader.  See Prohibition Leaders.

Sen. Morris Sheppard

April 4, 1917. Senator Morris Sheppard introduced the 18th Amendment in Congress.

April 5, 1933.  Prohibition of beer in DC repealed.

April 7, 1933. It became legal to sell beer if not prohibited by a state or locality.

April 7, 2007. Controversial long-time Prohibition Party head Earl Dodge died. See December 24

April 10, 1858. Birth of Purley A. Baker. He was head of the powerful Anti-Saloon League and greatly expanded its activities.

April 10, 1933. MI ratified the 21st (Repeal) Amendment.

April 11, 1917. NH approved state-wide prohibition.

April 16, 1786. Birth of temperance activist Dr. Thomas Sewall. His very graphic lithographs of the stomachs of alcoholics did much to intensify temperance sentiment.  As a young physician, Dr. Sewall was found guilty of grave robbing. Two of the eight corpses were those of his own former patients.

April 19, 1903.  Eliot Ness was born. He formed the famous “Untouchables” to fight bootlegging. But at least one of his officers took bribes.

April 20 and 21, 1852. The  Woman’s New York State Temperance Society was formed.

   Pauline Sabin

Pauline Sabin of WONPR.

April 23, 1887. Birth of Pauline Sabin. She formed and led the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform. Sabin was the most powerful woman leader in the movement for Repeal.

April 24, 1872. Birth of Clarence True Wilson, “America’s Number One Dry.” Learn why he was so important to the movement for Prohibition.

April 25, 1933. WI ratified the 21st Amendment.

April 29, 1792. Birth of brewer Mathew Vassar. He established Vassar College, the first privately endowed college for women in the country.

April 30, 1918. State-wide prohibition went into effect in MI.

May in Alcohol History Dates

May 1, 1917. State-wide prohibition went into effect in NE. On the same date in 1916, GA passed a bone-dry law to strengthen its state prohibition.

Sen. John J. Blaine

May 4, 1875. Birth of the author of the 21st Amendment, John J. Blaine. He’s also known for introducing the Blaine Act. That act began the process of leading to Repeal.

May 6,1919. CT  ratified the 18th Amendment.

May 8, 1933. RI ratified the 21st Amendment.

May 9, 2013.  AL legalized home brewing a third of a century after it was legalized at the federal level.

May 13, 1996. A RI law against advertising the price of alcoholic beverages was struck down by the US Supreme Court. In 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island, it held the law to be a violation of free speech.

    Wickersham Commission

May 20, 1931. The Wickersham Commission was formed. It was to, among other things, analyze the enforcement of National Prohibition.

May 24, 1918. AZ ratified the 18th Amendment.

May 24, 1976. The Judgment of Paris  blind wine tasting between CA and top French wines revolutionized the world of wine. Before that, people believed that great wine could only be made in France. That myth was completely destroyed by leading French wine experts themselves. They unknowingly declared the California wines to be the best.

May 25, 1933. WY ratified the 21st Amendment.

June in Alcohol History Dates

June 1, 1923. The draconian NY State Mullan-Gage Act for Prohibition enforcement was repealed. That’s because it had paralyzed the courts with so many alcohol cases. See Prohibition Era Dry Laws in New York State.

June 1, 1933. NJ ratified the 21st Amendment.

Mary H. Hunt

June 4, 1830. Birth of the single most powerful woman in the temperance movement, Mary H. Hunt. Yet she is virtually unknown today.

June 5, 1900. Carry A. Nation began attacking bars. Nation was probably the best known member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

June 6, 1915. The Flying Squadron of America completed its tours. See Sept 30, 1914.

June 7, 1919.  The World League Against Alcoholism was formed. The group opposed all drinking, which it equated to alcoholism.

June 19, 1934. Federal prohibition in the Panama Canal Zone repealed.

   Leslie Keeley

June 10, 1836. Birth of Dr. Leslie Keeley. He is remembered  for asserting that “alcoholism is a disease and I can cure it.” The secret formula of  “Keeley Double Chloride of Gold” cure  contained no gold in any form.

However, it did contain, according to analyses, strychnine, atropine, cocaine, codeine, and apomorphine. Kelley  claimed a success rate of 95%. He insisted that former patients who drank were cured but simply chose to drink.

June 24, 1933. DE ratified the 21st Amendment.

June 26, 1933. IN ratified the 21st Amendment.

June 26, 1933. MA ratified the 21st Amendment.

June 26, 1918. GA ratified the 18th Amendment.

June 27, 1933. NY ratified the 21st Amendment.

July in Alcohol History Dates

July 1, 2013. MS legalized home brewing a third of a century after it was legalized at the federal level.

July 1, 1917. State-wide prohibition began in  SD.

P.T. Barnum

July 5, 1810. Birth of prohibitionist showman P.T. Barnum. He promoted temperance in his shows.

July 10, 1933. IL  and  IA ratified the 21st Amendment.

July 11, 1933. CT  and  NH ratified the 21st Amendment.

    Whiskey Rebellion

July 13, 1794. The Whiskey Rebellion began as a result of high taxes on distilled spirits.

July 17, 1984. The National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed  But see why the name of the law is very misleading.

July 18, 1789.  The first temperance society in the US was formed by about 200 farmers in Litchfield County, CT.

July 24, 1933. CA ratified the 21st Amendment.

July 25, 1933. WV ratified the 21st Amendment.

August in Alcohol History Dates

Aug. 1, 1933. AR ratified the 21st Amendment.

Aug. 6, 1934. MT ratified the 21st Amendment.

August 7, 1933. OR ratified the 21st Amendment.

Aug. 8, 1933. AL ratified the 21st Amendment.

   Wilson Original Packages Act

Aug. 8, 1890. The federal Wilson Original Packages Act was signed into law. It required that all alcoholic beverages shipped interstate would be subject to the laws of the destination state. This was a victory for temperance supporters.

Aug. 9, 1918. LA ratified the 18th Amendment.

Aug. 10, 1917. The Food and Fuel Control Act was signed into law. It’s also called the Lever Food and Fuel Act or the Lever Act. It made it illegal to distill beverage alcohol. This was to conserve food supplies during WW I.

Aug. 11, 1933. TN ratified the 21st Amendment.

Aug. 17, 1870. Birth of  Richmond Pearson Hobson.  Hobson was the most highly paid of the over 2,000 public speakers for the Anti-Saloon League. He stated as scientific facts that “Liquor will actually make a brute out of a negro, causing him to commit unnatural crimes.” His views on the effects of alcohol on Native Americans was similar. “Liquor promptly degenerates the red man, throws him back into savagery.”

Aug. 22, 1817. Birth of John B. Gough  For more, including Gough’s photo, see 1842 in The Emergence of Temperance.

alcohol history dates
Eliza Thompson

Aug. 24, 1816. Birth of  Eliza Thompson. Often called “Mother Thompson.” She is considered the founder of the Women’s Temperance Crusade. That was the origin of the WCTU.

Aug. 29, 1933. MO ratified the 21st Amendment.

Aug. 29, 1935. The Federal Alcohol Administration Act was signed into law. It authorized the federal government to regulate the alcoholic beverage industry. It also mandated the restrictive three-tier system.

September in Alcohol History Dates

Sept. 2, 1875. Birth of Daisy Douglas Barr. She  was the leader of the Women’s Ku Klux Klan (WKKK). It had about a quarter of a million members. She was also was a powerful member of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.

Sept. 5, 1933. AZ and NE ratified the 21st Amendment.

Septemer 14, 1915. SC passed state-wide prohibition.

Roy Olmstead while a police sergeant.

Sept. 18, 1886. Birth of Roy Olmstead. Olmstead was a lieutenant in the Seattle Police Department. However, he began his own bootleg operation as a side-line. But was soon arrested and lost his job. Thus, he turned to bootlegging full-time. He soon organized a large bootlegging operation. In so doing, he became one of Puget Sound’s largest employers.

Sept. 22, 1914. VA enacted a state constitutional requirement for prohibition effective November 1, 1916.

Sept. 23, 1933. VT ratified the 21st Amendment.

Sept. 25, 1897. Birth of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Nobel Prize winning writer and Repeal activist William Faulkner.

   Hiram Wesley Davis

Hiram Wesley Evans

Sept. 26, 1881 . Birth of Hiram Wesley Evans. He was head of the highly prohibitionist Ku Klux Klan.

Sept. 26, 1933. CO ratified the 21st Amendment.

Sept. 28, 1893. Birth of Marshall Field III. He was a leader in the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment.

Sept. 28, 1839. Birth of well-known temperance activist  Frances Willard.

Sept. 30, 1914. The Flying Squadron of America was an assemblage of temperance speakers and singers. Three teams of speakers, along with singers, toured the country. They did so between between Sept 30, 1914 and June 6, 1915. Actually, they did little flying. Usually, they travelled by train or bus.

October in Alcohol History Dates

Oct. 3, 1933. WA ratified the 21st Amendment.

October 10, 1933. MN ratified the 21st Amendment.

Oct. 12, 1880. Birth of Lammot du Pont II. He was a founder and leader of the Republican Citizens Committee Against National Prohibition.

Oct. 14, 1978. At the federal level it became legal to home brew up to 200 gallons per year for personal consumption.

Oct. 15, 1866. Birth of William D. Upshaw. He was called “the driest of the dry” in Congress.

Oct. 17, 1933. ID ratified the 21st Amendment.

Oct. 18, 1933. MD ratified the 21st Amendment.

Oct. 21, 1855. Birth of Howard Hyde Russell, the founder of the Anti-Saloon League.

   George Cassiday

George Cassiday

Oct 24, 1930. A former bootlegger to Congress, George Cassiday, began his series of exposes in the Washington Post.

Although he never revealed any names, he estimated that he had sold alcohol to 2/3rds of the members. Of course, many of them were ardent Prohibitionists. And he wasn’t the only bootlegger to Congress. The revelations of hypocrisy among temperance supporters  damaged the dry cause.

Oct. 25, 1933. VA ratified the 21st Amendment.

Oct. 28, 1919. The National Prohibition Act of 1919 was signed into law. It’s usually called the Volstead Act. The Act was needed to define specify what was illegal under Prohibition and to enable it to be enforced

Oct. 31, 1860. Birth of Andrew Volstead. It was Volstead who guided the National Prohibition Act of 1919 (the Volstead Act) through Congress.

November in Alcohol History Dates

Nov. 1, 1998. The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program lost fed funding because there was no evidence that it was effective. The DARE program also attempts to prevent drinking among young people

Nov. 1, 1869. The Prohibition Party of the US was formed.

Nov. 2, 1933. NM ratified the 21st Amendment.

Nov. 3, 1914. AZ rejected a proposal to permit the sale of beer.

Nov. 3, 1914. OR approved state-wide prohibition.

Nov. 3, 1914. CO enacted a constitutional requirement for prohibition effective January 1, 1915.

Nov. 7, 1916. CO rejected a constitutional amendment to permit the sale of beer.

Nov. 7, 1916. ID approved a constitutional amendment requiring prohibition.

   Earl Dodge

Nov. 7, 2007. The very controversial long-time Prohibition Party head Earl Dodge died. To learn about Dodge, see Dec 24, 1932.

Nov. 7, 1916. The following states approved state-wide prohibition.

    •        MI (effective April 30, 1918).
    •        MT (effective December 31, 1918).
    •         NE (effective May 1, 1917).
    •         NH
    •         SC
    •         SD (effective July 1, 1917).
    •         UT

Nov. 9, 1936. State Board of Equalization v. Young’s Market Co. was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. It held that the 21st Amendment gave states an absolute exception to the Commerce Clause in the control and regulation of alcoholic beverages.

Wayne Wheeler

Nov. 10,1869. Birth of Wayne B. Wheeler. Called “The Dry Boss,”  biographers explained why.

“Wayne B. Wheeler controlled six congresses, dictated to two presidents of the United States, directed legislation in most of the States of the Union, picked the candidates for the more important elective state and federal offices, held the balance of power in both Republican and Democratic parties, distributed more patronage than any dozen other men, supervised a federal bureau from outside without official authority, and was recognized by friend and foe alike as the most masterful and powerful single individual in the United States.” (Steuart, J. and Dinwiddle, E. Wayne Wheeler, Dry Boss, p. 11.)

   Izzy and Moe

Nov. 13, 1925. Famous and highly successful Prohibition Agents Izzy and Moe were fired. The head of the Prohibition Bureau complained that they received much more news coverage than he did.

Nov. 13, 1864. Birth of Episcopal Bishop James Cannon, Jr.  Until his scandalous downfall involving, sex, greed, and law-breaking, he was one of the most powerful temperance leaders in the US.

Nov. 14, 1933. FL ratified the 21st Amendment.

Nov. 17, 1991. The TV program, 60 Minutes, was on the French Paradox. The program showed the health benefits of drinking red wine in moderation. But white wine, beer and spirits have similar health benefits.

Nov. 19, 1862. Birth of the professional baseball player who became the most famous famous temperance preacher,  Billy Sunday.

Nov. 22, 1871. The United Friends of Temperance was formed.

Nov. 24, 1933. TX ratified the 21st Amendment.

   Carry A. Nation

Carry A. Nation

Nov. 25, 1846. Carry A. Nation was born. She became the best known leader of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the entire country.

Nov 25, 1915. The second Ku Klux Klan (KKK) began on Stone Mountain, near Atlanta. A major objective was to support and enforce state-wide prohibition in the state. It often cooperated with the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). See KKK and WCTU: Partners in Prohibition.

Nov. 27,1918. FL ratified the 18th Amendment.

Nov. 27, 1933. KY ratified the 21st Amendment.

December in Alcohol History Dates

Dec. 5, 1933. OH, PA and UT ratified the 21st Amendment.

Dec. 5, 1933. UT ratified the 21st Amendment at 4:31 p.m. It was the 36th state to do so. That provided the 3/4th majority needed for Repeal. This is one of the major alcohol history dates.

Dec. 6, 1933. ME ratified the 21st Amendment.

   Clinton Fisk

Dec. 8, 1828. Birth of Clinton Fisk, who was the Prohibition Party‘s presidential candidate in the election of 1888.  Fisk University was named in his honor.

Earl Dodge

Dec. 24, 1932. Birth of longtime leader of the Prohibition Party, Earl F. Dodge, Jr. He was highly controversial and divisive leader.

Dodge  was accused of misappropriating Party funds to benefit himself, and of laundering funds to avoid personal taxes. Also of unaccountability, and, among other things, of repeatedly stealing from individuals. According to a deposition, his excuse was that he suffered from self-diagnosed kleptomania. He argued that theft was “out of my control.”

Dec. 31, 1918. State-wide prohibition began in MT.


Want More History Dates?

Blocker, J., et al. (eds) Alcohol and Temperance in Modern Society.

Cherrington, E., et al. (eds) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem, 6 vol., 1925-1930. Excellent source of alcohol history dates.

Stebbins, J., and Brown, T. Fifty Years History of the Temperance Cause, 1876.

Winskill, P. The Comprehensive History of the Rise and Progress of the Temperance Reformation, 1881. Chapters 8 and 9 are especially good for alcohol history dates in the US.


Know of alcohol history dates not here. If so, please send to hansondj [at sign] potsdam [dot] edu/. And thank you for your help!