On January 20, 1920, a new day dawned. As the 19th amendment went into effect, Americans could no longer manufacture, sell or transport intoxicating beverages. Prohibition was now part of the Constitution, holding the same status as freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the abolition of slavery.
The politics behind the 18th amendment were much more complicated than a simple desire for the nation to be “wet” or “dry”. Women’s suffrage, immigration, taxes and more were all driving forces behind those arguing for and against Prohibition. American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition explores all of these factors, and also examines the ways in which Prohibition both succeeded and failed to meet its goals.
Indiana wasn’t exempt from the turmoil of forbidden alcohol. Rumrunners from Chicago and Kentucky – both hotbeds of illegal alcohol production – traversed the state. Well-known organized crime figures, including Al Capone and “Diamond” Jim Brady were particularly fond of staying in the grand hotels in the southern part of the state, including French Lick and West Baden. Of course, not everyone was trying to skirt Prohibition. The Reverend Billy Sunday was preaching to millions of teetotalers across America from his home base in Winona Lake, Indiana, entertaining listeners with fiery sermons about the “demon alcohol.”
More than anything, Prohibition was divisive, and it ignited passionate responses across the country and in the Hoosier heartland as well. Explore all of these issues, choose sides between the “wets” and the “drys,” and more at American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. For more information, visit indianamuseum.org.
To celebrate the opening of the exhibition, the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites will host Indiana Spirits on Oct. 3 at the Indiana State Museum. Don’t miss this evening of food, drinks, entertainment, unique photo ops and so much more. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit indianamuseum.org/indianaspirits and enter the code: KNOCKKNOCK.