How The U.S. Government Poisoned Hooch During Prohibition

By | November 25, 2019

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Deputies dumping illegal alcohol in Orange County California in 1932. Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Most of the time, conspiracy theories are simply fantastical hoaxes. However, every once in a while, one proves to be true. Believe it or not, the U.S. government poisoned thousands during the Prohibition era in its war against alcohol.

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Lobby card from 1920 stating, "Here's to the Vostead Act -- down with it." Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Prohibition was the culmination of a long fight by Temperance organizations against alcohol. In 1919 the 18th Amendment to the Constitution went into effect which banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors. The subsequent Volstead Act which took effect in 1920 provided the means by which Prohibition was to be enforced.

But Prohibition was impossible to enforce. An illegal black market for alcohol including a proliferation of speakeasies sprung up before the ink on the amendment dried. Associated with this was a rise in gangs and organized crime that took control of the liquor market. Alcoholism counterintuitively actually increased during Prohibition.