How Much Do You Remember About the Prohibition Era?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

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?

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.


When did Prohibition begin?

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.


What was one nickname for people who supported Prohibition?

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.


Which of the following causes did NOT contribute to the Prohibition movement?

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.


True or false: Was it illegal to consume alcohol during Prohibition?

Prohibition didn't make it illegal to drink. But it did make it illegal to manufacture, transport and sell alcoholic beverages.


What was the name of the social force that helped lead to Prohibition?

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.


What was the name of the legislation that established Prohibition?

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.


What was the name of the legislation created to enforce the rules established by the 18th Amendment?

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.


True or false: Did Prohibition stop alcohol from being served in large American cities?

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.


What was a "speakeasy"?

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.


Why were speakeasies sometimes called "blind pigs"?

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.


How did World War I affect attitudes 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.


True or false: Did the Ku Klux Klan support Prohibition?

The KKK, which aligned itself with a lot of white supremacist ideologies, associated drinking with blacks and immigrants. The organization strongly supported Prohibition.


Where did many people legally purchase alcohol during Prohibition?

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.


How did Prohibition affect alcohol sales?

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.


True or false: Did all states aggressively enforce Prohibition laws?

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.


As Prohibition dragged on, how did speakeasies fare?

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.


Thousands of people died from drinking illegal booze during Prohibition. Why?

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.


How did Prohibition affect wine used for religious purposes?

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.


Why did mixed drinks become more popular during Prohibition?

During Prohibition, manufacturing quality slipped, meaning booze often tasted terrible. Bartenders mixed alcohol with other ingredients to make drinks more palatable.


True or false: Did alcohol consumption fall at the beginning of Prohibition?

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.


What was "rotgut"?

"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.


What was a "booze cruise"?

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.


Famous mobster Al Capone may have made as much as ______ in a single year thanks to his illegal alcohol operations.

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.


What was the purpose of the 21st 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.


How many states rejected the 21st Amendment?

As Prohibition wound down, just one state outright rejected the 21st Amendment. South Carolina, we know where you live.


How did the Great Depression affect 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.


Activists called Prohibition ________.

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.


Following the end of Prohibition, which state was the last to finally permit alcohol again?

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.


How did the end of Prohibition affect organized crime?

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.


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