On April 7th, 1933, the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect. This was the first official step towards ending the Prohibition Era in the United States which was enforced by the 18th Amendment. For that reason, the unofficial holiday National Beer Day is celebrated on this day.
The highly controversial Prohibition Era lasted 13 years, from 1920 to 1933. The 18th Amendment was supported by “dry crusaders” that believed alcohol was a curse on the American people. Dry crusaders also believed that if alcohol was banned, crime would lower substantially, the family union would be strengthened and the country would have a better overall image.
This completely backfired and instead hurt the economy in many ways. Many jobs were lost due to breweries and bars closing down, restaurants did not make as much money as before, and the government also lost billions in tax revenue from beer, wine, and alcohol sales. Prohibition was also responsible for the surge of organized crime and made mobsters like Al Capone rich due to sales of bootleg liquor and the birth of underground Speakeasy bars which illegally sold alcohol. Not to mention it was turning regular citizens into criminals just because they wanted a drink.
On March 21, 1933, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt and known critic of Prohibition, signed into law the Cullen-Harrison Act which allowed the legal sale and manufacture of low-alcohol (3.2% ABV) beer and wine. This effectively lead to the 18th Amendment being repealed from the U.S. Constitution on December of the same year. It was upon signing of the Cullen-Harrison Act that FDR was quoted with his now famous phrases, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”
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