Prohibition in Missouri: A Real Disaster

Great Hope for Prohibition

National Prohibition in Missouri began with great hope. Most people had supported it. They thought would increase prosperity. It would improve health. And that it would lower crime. That it would decrease violence. It would protect the family and children. And it would improve morality. They would soon be proven terribly wrong.

Before Prohibition, St. Louis alone was the home to over 20 breweries.  Under Prohibition some tried to survive. They made ice cream, yeast, soft drinks, malt, and other products. But most could not survive. Their employees were thrown out of work.

Prohibition in Missouri

It was not just breweries. Supporting business and their employees suffered. Missouri was a large producer of wine. Prohibition destroyed wineries. It also caused severe problems for grape growers.

Other Problems

Legal alcohol producers and sellers were driven out of business. Illegal ones moved in to fill the demand. Their moonshine sometimes contained lead. So some customers were blinded, paralyzed, or died.

Illegal business had to bribe police and elected officials. Sometimes entire police and sheriff’s departments were on the take.

Knowledge of this widespread corruption reduced respect for Prohibition. It also reduced respect for law in general. Alcohol was now a “forbidden fruit.” Many women and young people began drinking for the first time.

prohibition in MissouriProhibition led to a new pattern of drinking.  It was drinking less often but more heavily. People went to speakeasies to went to drink heavily. And to get drunk.

And there was sometimes violence between organized criminals and police. It also occurred between rival gangs.

And Prohibition reduced tax revenues from alcohol. It did this at the very same time that it was causing mounting crime. So expenses for criminal justice mushroomed.

The problems caused by Prohibition in Missouri grew. People decided that the promises of Prohibition were false.

Prohibition didn’t increase prosperity. It destroyed it. It didn’t improve health. But it endangered it. The law didn’t lower crime. It created it. It didn’t reduce violence. But it increased it. And it didn’t protect young people. It endangered them.


Repeal occurred in 1933. Yet temperance sentiment still exists. It’s expressed in many restrictive laws.

Perhaps residents of today will finish the job by ending all vestiges of Prohibition.


    • At this point, you know much more about Prohibition in MO than most people. So kudos!