World Alcohol and Drinking History Timeline

The Rapid Growth of Temperance

From 1900 to About 1933

The growth of temperance movements developed rapidly at the beginning of the twentieth century, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Prohibitionists believed that a world without beverage alcohol was a reasonable and attainable goal. The growth of the Progressive movement in the U.S. contributed to the belief that governments could effectively engage in social engineering to create virtually perfect societies.

Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during the Rapid Growth of Temperance, about 1900 to about 1933, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as 1920-1925, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1920.

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1900

Famous WCTU member Carry A. Nation (who copyrighted her name) began destroying saloons with a hatchet until her death in 1911.1

Twentieth Century

“Sex segregation was at the heart of Australia’s twentieth century drinking culture.”2

Early Twentieth Century

During the early Twentieth Century some countries established, and later repealed, prohibition prohibition. They include Iceland (1912-1932, except for beer of 2.5% alcohol or higher, which was prohibited until 1982), Russia, (1914-1925), Canada (1907-last province 1947), Finland (1919-1932), Norway (1919-1927), and the United States (1920-1933). Referenda to establish prohibtion failed in other countries, including New Zealand (1919), Sweden (1922), and Australia (1930).3

1901

“In the U.S., “The lager brewed by Adolphus Busch had overtaken Pabst in 1901 to become the nations best-selling beer.”4

1903

The first fully automatic bottle-making machine was built. A later version produced over 50,000 bottles per day.5

1904

The phylloxera invasion devastated European vineyards and reduced wine production dramatically. To help meet the demand, the Ottoman Empire exported 340 million liters of wine in 1904.6

1905

1907

1908

Mississippi and North Carolina adopted statewide prohibition.13

1909

Tennessee adopted statewide prohibition.14

1910

The Champagne Riots began in 1910 and 1011, but violence and riots continued until the outbreak of WW. I. the primary cause of the riots was conflict over the boundaries deliniating the area from which sparkling wine could be marketed as Champagne. A vineyard abutting the boundary on one side could obtain prices for its grapes many times higher than could another vineyard abutting the same boundary on the other side.15

1912

1913

The Webb-Kenyon Act was passed banning shipment of alcohol beverages into a state if the law of that state prohibited it. If effect, this prohibited shipping or importing alcohol into a state with statewide prohibition.18

1914

So many people were convinced that alcohol was the cause of virtually all crime that, as the implementation of National Prohibition approached, some towns in the U.S. actually sold their jails.26

1915

1916

Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota adopt statewide prohibition.29

1917

1918

1919

During National Prohibition in the U.S., some temperance leaders hired a scholar to rewrite the Bible by removing all references to alcohol beverages. 73

1920s

In Los Angeles, a jury that had heard a bootlegging case was itself put on trial after it drank the evidence. The jurors argued in their defense that they had simply been sampling the evidence to determine whether or not it contained alcohol, which they determined it did. However, because they consumed the evidence, the defendant charged with bootlegging had to be acquitted.39

1920-1925

California's grape growers increased their acreage about 700 percent during the first five years of National Prohibition and production increased dramatically to meet a booming demand for home-made wine.40

1920-1933

1920

1921-1923

New York State’s Mullin-Gage law passed in 1921 was repealed in 1923 because it had paralyzed the courts with liquor cases.48

1921

1922

1923

In the United Kingdom it became illegal to sell alcohol to anyone below the age of 18.53

1924

The National Distillers Products Corporation was formed and began buying the alcohol stock of defunct distillers. When prohibition ended, it owned over half of the aged whiskey in the U.S.54

1925

The Pinotage grape was created in South Africa by crossing Pinot Noir and Cincault.55

1926

Dr. Raymond Pearl published Alcohol and Longevity, in which he reported finding that moderate drinkers outlived both abstainers and alcoholics. Dr. Pearl's ground breaking research occurred during the middle of National Prohibition (1920-1933) and therefore, received little attention. Nevertheless, over time, an increasing volume of research has found that consumption of alcohol is associated with health and longevity.56

The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) strongly supported Prohibition and its strict enforcement. It backed up its support by both word and action.57

1927

After the death of powerful Anti-Saloon League leader Wayne Wheeler in 1927, Bishop James Cannon, Jr., chairman of the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition, and Public Morals, emerged as the most powerful leader of the temperance movement in the United States. Journalist H. L. Mencken said of Cannon that "Congress was his troop of Boy Scouts and Presidents trembled whenever his name was mentioned."58

1928

Reflecting the influence of a strong temperance movement, Iceland imposed a ban on all alcoholic beverages in Icelandic media.59

After a busy day arresting Prohibition offenders, famous Prohibition enforcement agents Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith relaxed and enjoyed their favorite beverages, beer and cocktails!60

1929

National Prohibition led to a boom in the cruise industry. By taking what were advertised as "cruises to nowhere," people could legally consume alcohol as soon as the ship entered international waters where they would typically cruise in circles. The cruises quickly became known as "booze cruises."64

1930s

1932

1933

 

The Future

To learn more about alcohol and drinking after The Rapid Growth of Temperance, visit

Resources

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  • 2 Kirkby, Diane. Drinking “The Good Life” Australia c. 1880-1980. In:Holt. Mack P., (ed.) Alcohol: A Social and Cultural History. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2006. Pp.203-223. P. 208.
  • 3 Blocker, Jr., Jack S., et al. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003, xxxi-xiv.
  • 4 Forbes, Thom. How Budweiser Became the King of Beers. Thom Forbes website, 2008.
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  • 12 Charters, Stephen. Wine and Society. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006, pp. 287-288.
  • 13 Hill, Jeff. Defining Moments: Prohibition. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2004, p. xxi.
  • 14 Hill, Jeff. Defining Moments: Prohibition. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2004, p. xxi.
  • 15 Champagne Riots! Wine, Wit & Wisdom. Website of the Society of Wine Educators; Johnson, Hugh. Vintage: The Story of Wine. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1989.
  • 16 Sidorov, Pavel. Russia. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 237-253. P. 239.
  • 17 Hill, Jeff. Defining Moments: Prohibition. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2004, p. xxi.
  • 18 Webb-Kenyon Act. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/Webb-Kenyon-Act.html.
  • 19 Sournia, Jean-Charles. A History of Alcoholism. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, 1990, p. 76 and p. 753.
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  • 21 Charters, Stephen. Wine and Society. Woburn, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006, p. 287.
  • 22 Lukacs, Paul. Inventing Wine. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012, p. 191.
  • 23 Hall, Wayne and Hunter, Ernest. Australia. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 719. P. 9.
  • 24 Hill, Jeff. Defining Moments: Prohibition. Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, 2004, p. xxi.
  • 25 Brook, S. The Wines of California. London: Faber and Faber, 1999.
  • 26 Anti-Saloon League of America. Anti-Saloon League of America Yearbook. Westerville, Ohio: American Issue Press, 1920, p. 8. Cited by Mulford, Harold A. Alcohol and Alcoholism in Iowa, 1965. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa, 1965, p. 9.
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  • 30 Schioler, Peter. Denmark. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 51-62. Pp. 54-55.
  • 31 Gebhart, John C. The Bratt System of Liquor Control in Sweden. Washington, DC: Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, 1930.
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  • 35 The Eighteenth Amendment. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/The-Eighteenth-Amendment.html)
  • 36 The Volstead Act. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/Volstead-Act.html
  • 37 Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. NY: Gotham, 2008, p. 376.
  • 38 Gately, Iain. Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. NY: Gotham, 2008, p. 377.
  • 39 The New York Times, January 7, 1928.
  • 40 Feldman, Herman. Prohibition: Its Economic and Industrial Aspects. New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1928, pp. 278-281.
  • 41 Blocker, Jack S. Kaleidoscope in Motion. Drinking in the United States, 1400-2000. In:Holt. Mack P., (ed.) Alcohol: A Social and Cultural History. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2006. Pp. 225-240. P. 232.
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  • 44 Jennings, Peter. World News Tonight. ABC-TV network, January, 29. 1999.
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  • 46 Moskalewicz, Jacek and Zielinski, Antoni. Poland. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 224-236. P. 226.
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  • 50 Blocker, Jr., Jack S., et al. Alcohol and Temperance in Modern History: An International Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003, p. xlii.
  • 51 Cottino, Amedeo. Italy. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 156-167. P. 161.
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  • 58 Hohner, Robert A. Prohibition and Politics: The Life of Bishop James Cannon, Jr. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999; Patterson, Michael S. The fall of a bishop: James Cannon, Jr., versus Carter Glass, 1909-1934. Journal of Southern History, 1973, 39, 493-518; Bishop James Cannon, Jr. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/Biography-Bishop-James-Cannon-Jr.html
  • 59 Asmundsson, Gylfi. Iceland. In: Heath, Dwight B., (ed.) International Handbook on Alcohol and Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. Pp. 117-127. P. 119.
  • 60 Asbury, Herbert. The Merry Antics of Izzy and Moe. In: Hyde, Stephen and Zanetti, Geno, (eds.) Players: Con Men, Hustlers, Gamblers, and Scam Artists. NY: Avalon, 2002, p. 183; Izzy Einstein and Moe Smith. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/Biography-Izzy-Einstein-and-Moe-Smith.html.
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  • 70 Repeal of Prohibition. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/Controversies/1131637220.html.
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  • 72 Prohibition: The Noble Experiment. http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/FunFacts/Prohibition.html
  • 73 The American Mix, 2001, 1(1), 4.

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