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Prohibition and the First Sexual Revolution: Home

The 18th Amendment

The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors–ushered in a period in American history known as Prohibition. (Continue reading from

Prohibition History and Women's Suffrage

By 1830, the average American over 15 years old consumed nearly seven gallons of pure alcohol a year – three times as much as we drink today – and alcohol abuse (primarily by men) was wreaking havoc on the lives of many, particularly in an age when women had few legal rights and were utterly dependent on their husbands for sustenance and support. (Continue reading from PBS)

The Prohibition amendment prohibiting the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol would not have passed without the persistence of the women involved in the temperance movement starting in the 19th century. The best known women’s organization favoring Prohibition was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).

By aligning the prohibition movement with the suffrage movement, women were able to drum up strong support for women’s right to vote. While the push for suffrage began in the middle of the 19th century, efforts surged forward during the 1910s with the National Woman’s Party. Several women’s suffrage associations produced pamphlets and magazines promoting their cause. Many women tried to vote illegally, picketed the White House, and went to jail for protesting. (Continue reading from The Mob Museum)

Prohibition Propaganda 




Books on Prohibition and Women's Suffrage

Temperance Movement History

The country's first serious anti-alcohol movement grew out of a fervor for reform that swept the nation in the 1830s and 1840s. Many abolitionists fighting to rid the country of slavery came to see drink as an equally great evil to be eradicated – if America were ever to be fully cleansed of sin. The temperance movement, rooted in America's Protestant churches, first urged moderation, then encouraged drinkers to help each other to resist temptation, and ultimately demanded that local, state, and national governments prohibit alcohol outright. (Continue reading from PBS)

Prohibition and Women's Rights

On Jan. 16, 1919, Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the 18th Amendment, banning “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Though Congress would spend the next year figuring out the technicalities before the guidelines for policing and enforcing the new reality went into effort, the era of Prohibition had begun.

A hundred years later, experts agree that the effects of this extreme 13-year effort to police morality can still be seen today. While it may have failed in its aims — and was repealed Dec. 5, 1933, via the 21st Amendment — Prohibition lives on in many ways, from cocktail culture to speedboat technology. But one of its greatest legacies is how, a century before the MeToo movement, it succeeded in making issues that women cared about part of the national conversation.

The social movement behind Prohibition had been brewing since the mid-19th century, and gender dynamics had always been part of it. (Continue reading from Time)