Seventy-five years ago today, beer became legal again as the first step to the eventual repeal of prohibition took effect. Hereâ€™s the part of the story I found most interesting:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt had been president barely a month, having been sworn in on March 4 after a landslide victory the previous November. Sweeping into power with him was an anti-Prohibition majority in Congress known as “the wets.”
Together they fulfilled their first campaign promise with passage of the Cullen-Harrison Act, which increased the amount of alcohol allowed in beverages from 0.5 percent to a discernible 3.2 percent by weight.
When the act took effect at 12:01 a.m. ET April 7, trucks and carriages burst out of brewery gates bearing cases and barrels of beer for a parched republic — at least for the District of Columbia and the 20 states whose laws permitted it. Several breweries dispatched cases directly to the White House and the Capitol.
Roosevelt got a lot of legislation passed in his first 100 days, but itâ€™s telling how quickly the beer bill went through Congress. Prohibition was not merely a mistake, it was a stupid mistake. And yet it still had enough support to end up as a Constitutional amendment. Hard to believe in retrospect. But it does lead me to wonder if any of our current moral crusades will be looked upon as so ridiculous 75+ years from now.