Monday, March 23, 2009

This Day In Booze: The Cullen-Harrison Act

The year was 1933. Prohibition had raged on for over 13 years. Between the effects of organized crime and an overall distain for the law by just about everybody, this great melting pot had finally reached it's boiling point. Alcohol was gaining increased social acceptance and public outcry over prohibition could no longer be ignored by the US Government.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was just getting his feet wet as the 32nd President of the United States. Early that year, during a dinner at the White House, he famously remarked, "I think this would be a good time for a beer." That very night he would go on the write a letter to Congress asking them to draft a bill allowing the sale of beer. What came out of it was an amendment to the Volstead Act known as the Cullen-Harrison act.

The Volstead Act, passed in late 1919, was one of the driving forces leading up to prohibition. The Act specified that "no person shall manufacture, sell, barter, transport, import, export, deliver, or furnish any intoxicating liquor except as authorized by this act". However, It did not specifically prohibit the use of intoxicating liquors. The 18th Amendment would take care of that and seal the deal on nearly 14 years of sobriety. The proposed act would allow the manufacture and sale of beer containing no more than 3.2% alcohol by weight, as well as light wines. On March 23, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed into law the Cullen-Harrison act, officially making him one of the most kick-ass presidents in my book (despite his heavy socialist leanings). This was the first big blow to prohibition and would ultimately lead to the 21st Amendment later that year.

On April 7th, two weeks after the passing of the act, the first legal beer in over 13 years was opened in this country. And everybody got laid. The end.

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