Lisa McGirr Featured on CBS on The legacy of Prohibition, 100 years later

Historians in the News
tags: Prohibition, Lisa McGirr

Monday marks 100 years since the House and Senate overrode a presidential veto of the Volstead Act, thus making law enforcement of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Prohibition banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, and it would remain law until 14 years later, when it was repealed.

The legacy of Prohibition is a huge part of our nation's history, some of which is sometimes overlooked or ignored.

Gangsters like Al Capone, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel flourished under Prohibition with the rise of speakeasies that allowed people to flout the nation's new absolutist approach. But the people and places that still thrive in movies and pop culture are only part of the story.

Lisa McGirr, a history professor at Harvard University and author of "The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State" (W.W. Norton), said, "I think what people don't understand about Prohibition are the very serious and long-lasting legacies of the law.

"The 1920s saw a vast upsurge in federal power. And after 1933, that power did not diminish; it simply took on new directions. One of those directions was policing and surveillance. The prison industry vastly expanded, so many of the kinds of legacies that we live with were established during Prohibition."

America's new look, and the rise of a large government, was born, perhaps more than anywhere else, inside a small town, in the modest wood-frame home where Congressman Andrew Volstead lived.

Read entire article at CBS

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