Prohibition Trivia

Prohibition trivia is about National Prohibition in the U.S. It existed from January of 1929 until December of 1933. That is, it lasted almost 14 years.

              Overview

I. Prohibition Trivia

A. Genera

B. The WCTU

C. Enforcement

D. Consequences of             Prohibition

E. Repeal of Prohibition

II. Resources

At the beginning of the Noble Experiment, most people supported it. Indeed, many states already had their own state-wide prohibition laws in place. In addition, the number of such states was rapidly increasing.

Of course, not everyone supported prohibition. And there was opposition when Georgia enacted its own prohibition in 1915. As a result, the second Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was started near Atlanta that same year.

The Klan strongly supported National Prohibition and its enforcement. Therefore, the Klan grew rapidly across the entire U.S. Unfortunately, supporting and defending prohibition was not its only goal.

The Noble Experiment is full of surprises. Enjoy prohibition trivia and share your favorite with family and friends.

I. Prohibition Trivia

A. General

Many people strongly believed that alcohol was the cause of virtually all crime. Therefore, on the eve of Prohibition, some towns actually sold their jails. 1

During Prohibition, temperance activists hired a scholar to rewrite the Bible by removing all references to wine. 8.a

Bill McCoy was a bootlegger well known for selling quality imported goods. Thus, people called his product the “real McCoy.” 10

How did “bathtub gin” gett its name? Alcohol, glycerine and juniper juice was mixed in tall bottles or jugs. In fact, they were too tall to be filled with water from a sink tap. So they were commonly filled under a bathtub tap. 17

The speakeasy got its name because one had to whisper a code word or name through a slot in a locked door to gain admittance. 18  

Prohibition led to widespread disrespect for law. New York City alone had about thirty thousand (yes, 30,000) speakeasies. And even public leaders flaunted their disregard for the law. They included the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, who owned and operated an illegal still. 19

Some people believed that the alcohol in antifreeze could be made safe by filtering it through a loaf of bread. It couldn’t and many were seriously injured or killed as a result. 20

When the ship, Washington, was launched, a bottle of water rather than Champagne, was ceremoniously broken across its bow. 22

B. WCTU

prohibition triviaA major prohibitionist group, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) taught as “scientific fact” that the majority of beer drinkers die from dropsie. 11

The WCTU also suggested that school teachers put half of a calf’s brain in an empty jar into which alcohol should be poured. As the color of the brain turned from pink to gray, pupils were to be warned that a drink of alcohol would do the same to their brains.12

prohibition triviaThe president of the WCTU, Ella Boole, learned that Prohibition agents had clubbed a suspected bootlegger. They then shot down his unarmed wife as she ran to his aid. Her response was “Well, she was evading the law, wasn’t she?” 13

The WCTU and the KKK worked closely together to defend Prohibition. In fact, they were partners in Prohibition.

The WCTU is far from dead or inactive; it currently boasts a membership of 25,000 and is very active politically. 15

C. Enforcement

In Los Angeles, a jury that had heard a bootlegging case was itself put on trial after it drank the evidence. The jurors argued in their defense that they had simply been sampling the evidence to determine whether or not it contained alcohol, which they determined it did. However, because they consumed the evidence, the defendant charged with bootlegging had to be acquitted. 21

Agents of the Prohibition Bureau routinely broke the law themselves. They shot innocent people and regularly destroyed citizens’ vehicles, homes, businesses, and other valuable property. A particularly interesting agent was William “Kinky” Thompson. Agents even illegally sank a large Canadian ship. 14 

Prohibitionists often advocated strong measures against those who did not comply with Prohibition (1920-1933). One suggested that the government distribute poisoned alcohol beverages through bootleggers (sellers of illegal alcohol). She acknowledged that several hundred thousand Americans would die as a result. Yet she thought the cost well worth the enforcement of Prohibition. Others suggested that those who drank should be:

  • hung by the tongue beneath an airplane and flown over the country
  • exiled to concentration camps in the Aleutian Islands
  • excluded from any and all churches
  • forbidden to marry
  • tortured
  • branded
  • whipped
  • sterilized
  • tattooed
  • placed in bottle-shaped cages in public squares
  • forced to swallow two ounces of caster oil
  • executed, as well as their progeny to the fourth generation. 9

D. Consequences of Prohibition

National Prohibition failed to prevent the consumption of alcohol. But much worse, it led to many more problems. For example, it caused the extensive production of dangerous unregulated and untaxed alcohol. It also promoted  the development of organized crime, increased violence, and massive political corruption. 23

The “Father of Prohibition,” Congressman Andrew J. Volstead, was defeated shortly after Prohibition was imposed. 30

prohibition trivia

Al Capone

Prohibition clearly benefited some people. Notorious bootlegger Al Capone made $60,000,000…that’s sixty million dollars…per year (untaxed!) while the average industrial worker earned less than $1,000 per year. 27

But not everyone benefitted. By the time Prohibition was repealed, nearly 800 gangsters in the City of Chicago alone had been killed in bootleg-related shootings. And, of course, thousands of citizens were killed, blinded, or paralyzed as a result of drinking contaminated bootleg alcohol. 28

E. Repeal of Prohibition

Repeal occurred at 4:31 p.m. on December 5, 1933, ending 13 years, 10 months, 19 days, 17 hours and 32.5 minutes of Prohibition.

“What America needs now is a drink” declared President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of Prohibition. 31

Prohibitionists didn’t give up easily. They even tried to enforce Prohibition for as long as ten years after its repeal by the 21st Amendment. 29

Although Prohibition was repealed in 1933, there are still hundreds of dry counties across the U.S. today. They cover about 10% of the land area 24

II. Resources