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Charles B. Sears Law Library SUNY Buffalo Law School

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Cheers for the 21st on its 79th

Posted on: | by Christine Anne George |

Happy belated birthday, 21st Amendment! You’ll have to forgive me for being slightly behind the times. I promise to be more on the ball for your 80th next year.

Seventy-nine years ago yesterday, the U.S. Constitution welcomed its 21th amendment that ended the U.S.’s brush with national teetotalism. This amendment is unique because it repealed the 18th Amendment that had been added in 1919 for Prohibition. As you may recall, Prohibition, that failed Noble Experiment, was supposed to help societal problems by banning the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol within the United States. Instead it ushered in the rise of the gangster and a period of corruption and violence. But, there are some silver linings. Because of Prohibition (and the fact that it was later repealed), U.S. News explains we now have mixed drinks, NASCAR, and light beer.

Upon hearing that Utah, the 36th and final state required for ratification, had given the green light in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt immediately put repeal into effect, apparently uttering, “What America needs now is a drink.”  Since that fateful day, people have taken FDR’s advice and gathered on December 5 for Repeal Day parties to clink their glasses to the successful exercise of the political process.

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