Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages that remained in place from 1920 to 1933.
It was promoted by the “dry” crusaders, a movement led by rural Protestants and social Progressives in the Democratic and Republican parties, and was coordinated by the Anti-Saloon League, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
During the 19th century, alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling addiction, and a variety of other social ills and abuses led to the activism to try to cure the perceived problems in society.
Among other things, this led many communities in the late 19th and early 20th century to introduce alcohol prohibition, with the subsequent enforcement of law becoming a hotly debated issue.
Prohibition supporters, called drys, presented it as a victory for public morals and health.
Anti-prohibitionists, known as wets, criticised the alcohol ban as an intrusion of mainly rural Protestant ideals on a central aspect of urban, immigrant, and Catholic life.
Although popular opinion believes that Prohibition failed, it succeeded in cutting overall alcohol consumption in half during the 1920s, and consumption remained below pre-Prohibition levels until the 1940s, suggesting that Prohibition did socialise a significant proportion of the population in temperate habits, at least temporarily.
Criticism remains that Prohibition led to unintended consequences such as the growth of urban crime organisations. As an experiment, it lost supporters every year and lost tax revenue that governments needed when the Great Depression began in 1929.