Americans may love individual liberties, but there is a social engineering streak in some of us a mile wide—and when reformers can’t persuade, they try to pass laws.
Prohibition in the United States goes back to the 1820s and 30s, during the religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening. Evangelical Protestants organized both temperance and abolitionist movements. National prohibition didn’t gain ground until the late 19th century. Large numbers of alcohol drinking Catholic immigrants from central and eastern Europe moved into America’s cities, viewed as dens of iniquity by anti-alcohol, anti-Catholic, nativist Protestant reformers. Their zeal flourished in state legislatures like Georgia’s, dominated by rural religious interests. Georgia mandated statewide prohibition in 1908, one of 33 states to enforce prohibition by state law before the 18th Amendment was ratified in 1919.
Prohibition brought bootleggers and organized crime, but Georgia embraced the federal prohibition of demon rum when it adopted the 18th Amendment on June 26, 1918, Today in Georgia History.
Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.