Alcohol history dates are listed for events related to drinking in the U.S. 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
Jan. 2, 1919. Michigan 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. Ohio and Oklahoma ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 7, 1874. Lillian Sedwick was born. She was the leader of the Indianapolis area Women’s Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) and also the state superintendent of the Indiana state Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). A number of women were members of both the WKKK and the WCTU because the Klan was a very strong supporter and defender of Prohibition.
Jan. 8, 1918. Mississippi, Idaho an Maine ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 9, 1919. West Virginia ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 11, 1918. Virginia ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 14, 1918. Kentucky 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. Alabama ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 16, 1919. During the afternoon of the 16th, Nebraska 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. Minnesota and Wisconsin ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 20,1919. New Mexico ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 21,1919. Nevada ratified the 18th Amendment.
Jan. 21, 1915. Alabama approved state-wide prohibition effective on July 1, 1916.
Jan. 24, 1934. Federal prohibition in the District of Columbia repealed.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. North Dakota ratified the 18th Amendment.January 29, 1918. South Carolina ratified the 18th Amendment.
February in Alcohol History
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. Arkansas passed state-wide prohibition effective July 1, 1915.
Feb. 9, 1923. A federal court convicted the high society LaMontages brothers on massive Prohibition violations and 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. Maryland ratified the 18th Amendment.
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre
Feb. 14, 1929. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred. The violence between warring bootlegging gangs turned many people against Prohibition.Amendment.
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. Pennsylvania ratified the 18th Amendment.
Feb. 25, 1015. Minnesota passed a county local option law.
March in Alcohol History
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 repealed.
March 2, 1934 Federal Prohibition in the
Feb. 19, 1918. Montana ratified the 18th Virgin Islands repealed.
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.
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.
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. Texas ratified the 18th Amendment.
March 5, 2007. It became legal to sell absinthe again in the U.S. after almost a century-long 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. New Jersey ratified the 18th Amendment, long after it was in effect.
March 18, 1918. Delaware ratified the 18th Amendment.
March 20, 1918. South Dakota ratified the 18th Amendment.
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
April 1, 1918. State-wide prohibition went into effect in Indiana.
April 2, 1918. Massachusetts ratified the 18th Amendment.
April 4, 1917. Senator Morris Sheppard introduced the prohibition amendment (18th Amendment) in Congress.
April 5, 1933. Prohibition of beer in the District of Columbia repealed.
April 7, 1933. It became legal to sell beer if not prohibited by a state or locality.
April 10, 1933. Michigan ratified the 21st Amendment.
April 11, 1917. New Hampshire 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. Unfortunately, at least one of his officers took bribes.
April 20 and 21, 1852. The Woman’s New York State Temperance Society was organized.
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. Wisconsin 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 Michigan.
May in Alcohol History
May 1, 1916. Georgia approved a bone-dry law to strengthen its state-wide prohibition.
May 1, 1917. State-wide prohibition went into effect in Nebraska
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. Connecticut ratified the 18th Amendment.
May 8, 1933. Rhode Island ratified the 21st Amendment.
May 9, 2013. Alabama legalized home brewing a third of a century after it was legalized at the federal level.
May 13, 1996. A Rhode Island law against advertising the price of alcoholic beverages was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 44 Liquormart, Inc. v. Rhode Island, it held the law to be a violation of free speech.
May 24, 1918. Arizona ratified the 18th Amendment.
May 24, 1976. The historic Judgment of Paris blind wine tasting competition between California and top French wines completely revolutionized the world of wine. Before the competition, 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. Wyoming ratified the 21st Amendment.
June in Alcohol History
June 1, 1923. The draconian New York 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. New Jersey ratified the 21st Amendment.
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 and pharmacies that sold alcohol. Nation was probably the best known member of the Woman’s Christian Union.
June 6, 1915. The Flying Squadron of America completed its tours. See September 30, 1914.
June 7, 1919. The World League Against Alcoholism was formed. The organization opposed all drinking, which it equated to alcoholism.
June 19, 1934. Federal prohibition in the Panama Canal Zone repealed.
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. Delaware ratified the 21st Amendment.
June 26, 1933. Indiana ratified the 21st Amendment.
June 26, 1933. Massachusetts ratified the 21st Amendment.
June 26, 1918. Georgia ratified the 18th Amendment.
June 27, 1933. New York ratified the 21st Amendment.
July in Alcohol History
July 1, 2013. Mississippi legalized home brewing a third of a century after it was legalized at the federal level.
July 1, 1917. State-wide prohibition began in South Dakota.
July 5, 1810. Birth of prohibitionist showman P.T. Barnum. He promoted temperance in his shows.
July 13, 1794. The Whiskey Rebellion began as a result of high taxes on distilled spirits.
July 18, 1789. The first temperance society in the U.S. was formed by about 200 farmers in Litchfield County, Connecticutt.
July 24, 1933. California ratified the 21st Amendment.
July 25, 1933. West Virginia ratified the 21st Amendment.
August in Alcohol History
Aug. 1, 1933. Arkansas ratified the 21st Amendment.
Aug. 6, 1934. Montana ratified the 21st Amendment.
August 7, 1933. Oregon ratified the 21st Amendment.
Aug. 8, 1933. Alabama ratified the 21st Amendment.
Wilson Original Packages Act
Aug. 8, 1890. The federal Wilson Original Packages Act was signed into law. It mandated 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. Louisiana 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. Tennessee 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 asserted 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.
Aug. 29, 1933. Missouri 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.
Sept. 2, 1875. Birth of Daisy Douglas Barr. She was the leader (Imperial Empress) 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.
Septemer 14, 1915. South Carolina passed state-wide prohibition.
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 in law enforcement. 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. Virginia enacted a state constitutional requirement for prohibition effective November 1, 1916.
Sept. 23, 1933. Vermont 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
Sept. 26, 1933. Colorado 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 September 30, 1914 and June 6, 1915. Actually, they did little flying. Usually, they travelled by train or bus.
Oct. 3, 1933. Washington ratified the 21st Amendment.
October 10, 1933. Minnesota 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. Idaho ratified the 21st Amendment.
Oct. 18, 1933. Maryland ratified the 21st Amendment.
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. Virginia 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.
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 U.S. was formed.
Nov. 2, 1933. New Mexico ratified the 21st Amendment.
Nov. 3, 1914. Arizona rejected a proposal to permit the sale of beer.
Nov. 3, 1914. Oregon approved state-wide prohibition.
Nov. 3, 1914. Colorado enacted a constitutional requirement for prohibition effective January 1, 1915.
Nov. 7, 1916. Colorado rejected a constitutional amendment to permit the sale f beer.
Nov. 7, 1916. Idaho approved a constitutional amendment requiring prohibition.
Nov. 7, 1916. The following states approved state-wide prohibition.
- Michigan (effective April 30, 1918).
- Montana (effective December 31, 1918).
- Nebraska (effective May 1, 1917).
- New Hampshire
- South Carolina
- South Dakota (effective July 1, 1917).
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.
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: An Uncensored Biography of Wayne B. Wheeler. NY: Revell, 1928, p. 11.)
Izzy and Moe
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 U.S.
Nov. 14, 1933. Florida ratified the 21st Amendment.
Nov. 17, 1991. The TV program, 60 Minutes, was on the French Paradox. The program popularized 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. Texas ratified the 21st Amendment.
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. Florida ratified the 18th Amendment.
Nov. 27, 1933. Kentucky ratified the 21st Amendment.
Dec. 5, 1933. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah ratified the 21st Amendment.
Dec. 5, 1933. Utah 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. Maine ratified the 21st Amendment.
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 Montana.
Want More History Dates?
These reference materials are rich sources of alcohol history dates.
Blocker, J., et al. (eds) Alcohol and Temperance in Modern Society: An International Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003.
Cherrington, E., et al. (eds) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: Am Issue, 6 vol., 1925-1930. Excellent source of alcohol history dates.
Stebbins, J., and Brown, T. Fifty Years History of the Temperance Cause. Hartford, CT: Fitch, 1876.
Winskill, P. The Comprehensive History of the Rise and Progress of the Temperance Reformation. Warrington, England: Winskill, 1881. Chapters 8 and 9 are especially good for alcohol history dates in the U.S.
Know of alcohol history dates not here. If so, please send to hansondj[at sign]potsdam[dot]edu/ Thanks!