How Much Do You Remember About the Prohibition Era?

By: John Miller

How Much Do You Remember About the Prohibition Era?
Image: wikimedia

About This Quiz

The Prohibition era in the United States occurred from 1920 to 1933 as a national constitutional ban on alcohol. It was an attempt to legislate morality and gained the support of Protestant denominations including Methodists, New School Presbyterians as well as Catholic Total Abstinence Union of America, who acknowledged drinking as a personal sin. 

Arguments against alcohol production and consumption brought forth were that ingredients necessary for the distillation of alcohol were depleting due to the war and were necessary for food. This resulted in the temporary closure of the nation’s breweries and distilleries.

The influx of immigrants in urban areas of the country signified a clash between urban and rural values and individuals within the prohibition movement linked crime and corruption to the increasing immigrant populations. In essence, prohibition was viewed as a means to cure the ills of society and thus weaken the political opposition.

In 1933, with the approval of the 21st Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Prohibition came to an end and was believed to have created widespread criminal activity going against the initial claims of declining crime rates. Despite the views of its failure, it may have just been successful in reducing liquor consumption during the 1920s with levels remaining well below pre-Prohibition until the 1940s. But can you tell us the details? Can you go more into depth and pass our quiz? Let's test your knowledge right now!

What did Prohibition "prohibit," anyway?
Alcohol
After the turn of the century, the American public turned on alcohol. Legislators eventually outlawed the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, and the Prohibition Era began.
Jazz music
Roofies

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When did Prohibition begin?
1810
1920
Prohibition started in 1920 and lasted for 13 long years. The era was fraught with political tension and outright violence between people who supported and enforced the laws, and those who sought to subvert it.
2012

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What was one nickname for people who supported Prohibition?
"Party poopers"
"Drys"
Supporters of Prohibition were often called "drys" because they wanted to see "dry" policies throughout the country. There are still many pockets of America that have dry laws.
"Weirdos"

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Which of the following causes did NOT contribute to the Prohibition movement?
Fun fraternity parties
In the 1800s and early 1900s, alcoholism and family violence were high on the list of concerns among social activists. They began spreading anti-alcohol messages, and by 1920, Prohibition laws went into effect.
Rampant alcoholism
Family violence

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True or false: Was it illegal to consume alcohol during Prohibition?
TRUE
FALSE
Prohibition didn't make it illegal to drink. But it did make it illegal to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages.

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What was the name of the social force that helped lead to Prohibition?
Truman Doctrine
Temperance Movement
The Temperance Movement was a social movement that frowned heavily on alcohol and other intoxicants. At the end of the 1800s, the movement gained full steam and settled on radical concepts like the outlawing of alcohol.
Manifest Destiny

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What was the name of the legislation that established Prohibition?
Anti-Brewers Brigade
18th Amendment
Legislators went all-in on Prohibition, enshrining anti-alcohol laws using the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Canadians and Mexicans sighed and prepared for an influx of drunken American tourists.
Treaty of Lush

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What was the name of the legislation created to enforce the rules established by the 18th Amendment?
Volstead Act
With the 18th Amendment in place, lawmakers needed a tool for enforcement. Enter the Volstead Act, which provided law enforcement with the language they needed to apprehend and charge lawbreakers.
Sugar Act
Stamp Act

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True or false: Did Prohibition stop alcohol from being served in large American cities?
TRUE
FALSE
Where there's a will, there's a way, and when it comes to alcohol in America, there's a collective will that will never be stifled by government intervention. In large American cities, alcohol consumption was still extremely common.

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What was a "speakeasy"?
A political club
A bowling alley
An illegal bar
A speakeasy was essentially an establishment that illegally served alcohol during Prohibition. The name caught on in part because you were supposed to "speak easy" (quietly) to avoid arousing the suspicions of the police.

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Why were speakeasies sometimes called "blind pigs"?
All speakeasies served bacon.
Patrons visited bars under the guise of seeing non-alcohol-related attractions.
Remember, it wasn't illegal to consume alcohol … it was illegal to SELL it. So, bar owners would offer up a ridiculous attraction (like a pig, for your viewing pleasure) for a price and then give customers a "free" drink as a way of skirting the law.
You had to offer one of your pigs to get a drink.

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How did World War I affect attitudes toward Prohibition?
Soldiers said they couldn’t survive without beer.
It fueled efforts toward Prohibition.
The Prohibition movement was all but triumphant before the war. But the war added more fuel to the fire, as anti-drink firebrands said barley could be used to feed troops instead of making beer.
Americans didn't want their troops fighting while drinking.

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True or false: Did the Ku Klux Klan support Prohibition?
TRUE
The KKK, which aligned itself with a lot of white supremacist ideologies, associated drinking with blacks and immigrants. The organization strongly supported Prohibition.
FALSE

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Where did many people legally purchase alcohol during Prohibition?
At bars
At drug stores
There were some easily exploited loopholes in the Volstead Act. For example, with a doctor's prescription, "patients" could buy whiskey from a drug store to "medicate" themselves.
At wine shops

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How did Prohibition affect alcohol sales?
Beer sales actually increased by 1,000%.
No one felt safe enough to buy booze.
The black market skyrocketed.
The government couldn't stop the black market, which exploded during Prohibition. Organized crime blossomed in large part due to illegal alcohol production and sales.

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True or false: Did all states aggressively enforce Prohibition laws?
TRUE
FALSE
Some states didn't want anything to do with the enforcement of Prohibition. Maryland, for example, didn't take up any sort of enforcement code that would have been necessary to punish lawbreakers.

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As Prohibition dragged on, how did speakeasies fare?
They boomed with business.
In the early days, many speakeasies were small and simple. In the later days of Prohibition, a lot of them had transformed into major entertainment venues that just happened to serve alcohol, too.
They were raided mercilessly by cops.
They disappeared altogether.

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Thousands of people died from drinking illegal booze during Prohibition. Why?
People committed suicide due to lack of beer.
The booze was tainted.
Dumb and merciless moonshiners made booze illegally, and sometimes their either didn't know (or didn't care) that the alcohol was tainted with dangerous chemicals. The result? Perhaps 10,000 people died horrible deaths from poisoning.
Breaking laws mean instant death.

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How did Prohibition affect wine used for religious purposes?
Coke was substituted for wine.
It banned all religious drinks.
There was an exception for religion.
The Volstead Act implemented some exceptions in enforcement … such as wine used for sacramental purposes. As you can imagine, suddenly there were a whole lot more preachers eager to conduct religious ceremonies.

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Why did mixed drinks become more popular during Prohibition?
Cocktails had just been invented.
Beer was totally unavailable.
Mixers masked the poor taste of cheap booze.
During Prohibition, manufacturing quality slipped, meaning booze often tasted terrible. Bartenders mixed alcohol with other ingredients to make drinks more palatable.

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True or false: Did alcohol consumption fall at the beginning of Prohibition?
TRUE
It's true, at the start of Prohibition, many Americans really did embrace the concept -- millions of people gave up (or reduced) their drinking. Then, as the years passed, more and more people started drinking again.
FALSE

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What was "rotgut"?
A term for politicians who voted for Prohibition
A type of alcoholism
Illegal alcohol
"Rotgut" would rot your guts if you drank it -- it was illegally produced booze. A lot of rotgut was essentially poison, and many people suffered ill effects after drinking it.

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What was a "booze cruise"?
A cruise ship that made it legal to sell and drink alcohol aboard
Cruise ship owners found a loophole in enforcement by taking customers on a "cruise to nowhere," or a "booze cruise," in which the ship would wander beyond the three-mile mark offshore. There, it was beyond jurisdictions that could enforce alcohol sales, so customers could buy and drink alcohol with no repercussions.
An exotic dancing club
A drive in the country

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Famous mobster Al Capone may have made as much as ______ in a single year thanks to his illegal alcohol operations.
$60
$60,000
$60 million
During Prohibition, it paid really well to run booze. Capone may have made more than $60 million in just a single year thanks to Prohibition.

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What was the purpose of the 21st Amendment?
It outlawed organized crime.
It repealed the 18th Amendment.
In 1933, Congress ratified the 21st Amendment, which repealed the 18th Amendment. The 21st Amendment has the distinction of being the only amendment created for the purpose of deconstructing another amendment.
It made Al Capone president of the United States.

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How many states rejected the 21st Amendment?
1
As Prohibition wound down, just one state outright rejected the 21st Amendment. South Carolina, we know where you live.
41
all 50

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How did the Great Depression affect Prohibition?
It had no effect.
It strengthened Prohibition.
It helped kill Prohibition.
With the country's economy in shambles, anti-Prohibition activists argued that America needed the financial boost of alcohol production and taxes. Desperate lawmakers agreed. The Depression helped to accelerate the end of the Prohibition Era.

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Activists called Prohibition ________.
"The Most Fun Party"
"The Noble Experiment"
It was called "The Noble Experiment," an idea that government could improve the well-being of the country by outlawing a substance. The experiment was a massive failure.
"The Terrible Idea"

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Following the end of Prohibition, which state was the last to finally permit alcohol again?
Alaska
New York
Mississippi
Mississippi held on to its dry status for 33 years following the repeal of Prohibition. It wasn't until 1966 that you could legally buy a beer in this southern state.

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How did the end of Prohibition affect organized crime?
Organized crime fell dramatically.
Prohibition was a dream come true for Capone and his ilk. With the end of Prohibition, organized crime plummeted and gangsters lost much of their control across the country.
The mob increased in size.
Gangsters were too drunk to care about crime.

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