New York City Deputy Police Commissioner John A. Leach, right, watching agents pour liquor into sewer following a raid during the height of prohibition. File Photo by Library of Congress/UPI
WASHINGTON, Jan. 16, 1919 (UP) - Prohibition became part of the basic law of the United States today. Ratification of the federal amendment by the legislature of Nebraska makes that measure the eighteenth amendment to the federal constitution.
All but a half a dozen of the 48 states are expected to adopt the amendment in the next few weeks but today's action gives the ratification of three-fourths of the states, the number to administer John Barleycorn the k.o. punch.
One year from today every saloon, brewery, distillery and wine press in the land must close its doors, unless, as now seems likely, they are already closed at that time by war prohibition (the War Prohibition Act of 1918), which goes into effect next July 1 and stays until completion of demobilization.
The amendment which outlaws liquor in this country reads:
"Section 1: After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes, are hereby prohibited.
Section 2: The Congress and several states have the concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Section 3: This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the constitution by the legislatures of the several states as provided by the constitution within seven years of the date of submission hereof to the states by Congress."
The amendment was adopted by Congress Dec. 18, 1917, and ratified by 36 states a little more than one year later.
Here are some of the things the amendment will do:
Wipe out at a stroke the 236 distilleries, 992 breweries and over 300,000 saloons and wholesale liquor establishments, forcing their employes to seek other jobs.
Cut off from persons connected with the liquor industry annual income totaling more than $70,000,000 in pre-war times.
Cut off from the United States treasury a source of taxation counted upon for an even billion dollars in the first drafts of the new revenue bill and millions in additional incomes to state treasuries.
Remove the liquor question from national, state and city politics for all time and help decrease city, state and federal expense by decreasing law violations.
The fight on liquor is about as old as the constitution itself.
It began early in the nineteenth century but was looked on as "another crank notion."
But it gathered strength. Churches took it up, doctors followed and then came organizations of antiliquor societies, the Antisaloon League and others.
In the middle of the nineteenth century Maine went dry. Kansas followed.
About 1900 came the "militant" stage in the person of Carrie Nation of Kansas, probably the most picturesque figure the fight ever developed.
Ten years later the crusade against liquor had grown from the "ravings of cranks" into an irresistible movement that swept the country.
Distillers are already planning a fight on the amendment in the courts on the grounds that it waas not adopted by two-thirds of the whole Congress and that the seven-year limitation in it invalidates the measure.
"Drys" say they are confident neither of these contentions will hold and are preparing legislation carrying heavy penalties for violation of the prohibition law.
The 36 ratifying states:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia.