Friday, January 16, 2009

Dry, dry, dry: a bad day in 1919

Ninety years ago today —16 January 1919— the State of Utah, along with North Carolina, Nebraska, Missouri, and Wyoming, voted to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution requires the approval of 3/4 of the States for ratification. In 1919, there were 48 States. Depending on the time of day of the vote, one of those five became the necessary, ignominious, 36th State.

The 18th Amendment states that

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 is hereby prohibited.

Acting U.S. Secretary of State Frank L. Polk certified the ratification 13 days later on 29 January 1919. But according to the strictures of the amendment, implementation would not commence until one year following ratification.

So, it was on 29 16 January 1920 that the nation began a 'dry' spell that would officially continue until 5 December 1933, that is, for 5,059 5,072 days.

[UPDATE: My math was off when I posted --too early in the morning. After a cup of coffee, I've corrected the dates and math. Beer historian/author Bob Skilnik weighed in as well. See the comments.]


  1. Utah? Sure about that? Utah was the 36th state to vote for Repeal. Having them also be the pivotal state for the enactment of the 18th and the passage of the 21st seems a wee bit coincidental.

    On January 16, 1919, five states voted for National Prohibition, including Utah;

    Nebraska, January 16, 1919; North Carolina, January 16, 1919; Utah, January 16, 1919; Missouri, January 16, 1919; Wyoming, January 16, 1919.

    I won't even mention January 29th?!!?

  2. I found it too delicious a coincidence to not take the risk. Until an historian does the research (hint!).


Comment here ...