Celebrating the end of alcohol prohibition, December 5th, 1933
By the 1930s, it was clear that Prohibition had become a public policy failure. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had done little to curb the sale, production and consumption of intoxicating liquors. And while organized crime flourished, tax revenues withered. With the United States stuck in the throes of the Great Depression, money trumped morals, and the federal government turned to alcohol to quench its thirst for desperately needed tax money and put an estimated half-million Americans back to work.
In February 1933, Congress easily passed a proposed 21st Amendment that would repeal the 18th Amendment, which legalized national Prohibition. Even 17 of the 22 senators who voted for Prohibition 16 years earlier now approved its repeal. State conventions quickly ratified the proposed amendment, and by December 5, 1933, only three more states were needed to garner the requisite three-quarters approval to make it law.