100 Years Ago, Minnesota Helped Make Alcohol Illegal
It was 100 years ago today that Prohibition went into effect in the U.S., making the sale and production of beer and alcohol illegal. And Minnesota helped it pass!
It's hard to imagine now, but alcohol-- both the making and selling of-- was once against the law in the United States. Prohibition, thanks to the Volstead Act, passed in 1919, took effect on January 17th,1920. It was enacted to help enforce the 18th Amendment that made it illegal to produce, sell or transport any alcoholic beverage.
And it has a distinctly Minnesota connection: The bill that was enacted into law was sponsored by one Andrew Volstead, a congressman from Minnesota, who was born right in our backyard, in Kenyon, over in Goodhue County.
According to the National Archives, the Volstead Act, or 18th Amendment, would remain on the books for another 13 years, keeping the "manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages," including beer and all other forms of alcohol, illegal. It was finally repealed in 1933. Whew! (That was WAAAY before I was born, but still... even the THOUGHT of beer being illegal sends a chill down my spine!)
This historical website notes that while Volstead also served in Minnesota as a lawyer, judge, city attorney, mayor and more, it was Prohibition that would define him. "Prohibition transformed the name of an otherwise obscure legislator from Minnesota into a household word. The name Volstead was cursed by some, praised by others, but known by all," the site noted.
Now even though I'm a Wisconsin native (where beer is pretty much a birthright), I really do love living here in Minnesota and everything the Land of 10,000 Lakes stands for... except for that whole Prohibition thing. I'm glad it's off the books, especially since it has its roots, in part, firmly planted here in the North Star State.