Amendment XVIII – Prohibition (1919)

The Eighteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads:

“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 is hereby prohibited.”

Herbert Hoover referred the Eighteenth Amendment as “an experiment noble in motive.”  Commonly referred to as National Prohibition, the Eighteenth Amendment was passed on December 18, 1917.  It was ratified on 16 January 1919 and put into effect on 17 January 1920.

The Eighteenth Amendment specified that state and federal governments would have concurrent power to enforce prohibition.  In 1919, Congress adopted the Volstead Act to provide for federal enforcement, and define as intoxicating liquor any beverage containing more than .5 percent alcohol.  Thereafter, popular resistance and organized opposition to National Prohibition grew until the Twenty first Amendment repealed it in 1933.

The Eighteenth Amendment is the only amendment to the Constitution to be repealed subsequently.  After more than a decade of controversy, the Eighteenth Amendment was overturned when the Twenty first Amendment was ratified on 5 December 1933.  
Subsequently, the Supreme Court held that the National Prohibition Act became inoperative.  As a result, all pending prosecutions for violations of the National Prohibition Act had to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.


Inside Amendment XVIII – Prohibition (1919)