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21st Amendment Repeals Prohibition

December 5, 2011

On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment.  The 18th Amendment was ratified on January 16, 1919, and initiated a national policy prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors,” and included a ban on their importation or exportation.   To carry out the mandates of the 18th Amendment, the National Prohibition Act, popularly known as the Volstead Act, Ch. 85, 41 Stat. 305 (1919), was passed.

Recognizing that prohibition was a failed social experiment and also needing the income generated by the sale and importation of spirits, Congress proposed and passed the 21st Amendment.  The method of ratification chosen was by state conventions, rather than ratification by state legislatures.  The 18th Amendment is the only amendment that has been repealed; the 21st is the only one ratified by state conventions.

Click here to read the Amendments in the online exhibit of the Constitution by the National Archives.  To read more about the cases involving the Volstead Act, search Hein Online’s World Trials library.

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