Law, Alcohol, and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition

Law, Alcohol, and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition

Law, Alcohol, and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition

Law, Alcohol, and Order: Perspectives on National Prohibition

Synopsis

"These papers should be a major stimulus to future scholarly activity. The general overviews of prohibition an alcohol policy by David E. Kyvig and Mark Keller are especially significant. Mark Lender's paper on the research opportunities in these fields is the most valuable essay for scholars. These three essays bracket more specialized offerings that illuminate aspects and implications of prohibition and repeal. Steven Goldberg, William Swindler, Paul L. Murphy, and Rayman L. Solomon deal with neglected constitutional and judicial issues; Nuala Drescher offers some fascinating speculations on what organized labor might have gained had the United Brewery Workers union survived; Clement E. Vose compels new respect for the complexities of repeal; and two essays by Humbert Nelli and Mark Haller draw contrasting conclusions about the role of 'organized' crime during and after prohibition. All are presentations of merit that adhere closely to a theme and provide full scholarly bibliographies. They are considerably more important than the usual collection of conference papers and will be useful for graduate students, upper-division undergraduates, and those wishing a sampling of the best current thinking about prohibition, alcohol, and repeal." - Choice

Excerpt

On December 5, 1983, American press attention turned briefly to the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution. An Associated Press feature story proclaimed, "Drinkers can raise a glass tonight to toast 50 uninterrupted years of legal imbibing." On December 5, 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the fourteen-year-old Eighteenth Amendment, which had banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. The end of national prohibition was greeted with enthusiasm at the time and, if press accounts are any indication, with bemusement a half century later. From the perspective of fifty years, prohibition appeared an historical quirk, a curious aberration totally without consequence, a matter solely of nostalgic interest.

National prohibition was, however, a far from trivial phenomenon. It represented the culmination of a century-long, broad-based social reform movement. It produced two constitutional alterations within a decade and a half, including the only repeal of a constitutional amendment in American history. And, most importantly, it spawned major and long-lasting consequences for American law, politics, government, labor, criminal enterprise, and social order. Prohibition repeal ended an important phase of the continuing effort to develop a satisfactory public policy toward America's most widely used and accepted drug. And like the law which provoked it, repeal had subtle but significant effects upon many aspects of American life.

In April 1983 a group of scholars gathered to discuss and consider the consequences of the liquor ban and its repeal at a conference en-

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