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Intemperance: The Lost War Against Liquor

NCJ Number
Larry Engelmann
Date Published
268 pages
This is a historical account of the wave of events and public mood that led to the establishment of the prohibition era in 1920 under the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, followed by an account of the violent battles between Federal law enforcement officers and the black market liquor suppliers, as well as events leading to repeal of prohibition law in the early 1930s.
The focus of the book is on what happened in Michigan in these years. Michigan had long been a key State in the fight for prohibition. In 1916, 4 years before national prohibition, Michigan voters had overwhelmingly endorsed a statewide dry measure. During this 4-year period before nationwide prohibition, black-market liquor suppliers had perfected methods of illegal manufacture, transportation, and the retail distribution of illegal alcoholic beverages. Canadian liquor began to be smuggled across the Detroit River. Also, the integrity of prohibition agents was undermined by corruption and pay-offs. When nationwide prohibition went into effect in 1920, the Federal Government selected Michigan to be a model for effective enforcement of the law. For 13 years, the Federal Government waged war against illegal liquor in Michigan, but by 1933 Michigan and the Nation decided that the fight was not worth the socioeconomic cost. Michigan became the first State to ratify the 21st amendment, which repealed prohibition. The lesson learned was that intemperance in prohibition enforcement was more problematic than intemperance in the consumption of alcoholic beverages. References are cited for each chapter, followed by a subject index