32¢ Prohibition Enforced
Celebrate the Century – 1920s
Issue Date: May 28, 1998
City: Washington, DC
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
On January 16, 1919, the eighteenth amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The final triumph of the temperance movement, whose followers believed alcohol caused immoral behavior and various social ills, it called for the prohibition of the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquor” in the United States.
While this amendment did greatly reduce the use of alcohol by Americans, it also gave rise to a new crime wave. Perhaps this was most evident in Chicago, where illegal bars, called “speakeasies,” were a common sight. These bars were often protected by corrupt police officers, and thus patrons had little fear of being punished for their actions.
Chicago’s huge boom in organized crime was led by Al Capone, perhaps the most famous gangster ever. Capone was the leader of a $60-million-a-year illegal liquor ring. This running of alcohol was often punctuated by violence. The most striking example of this was known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929, when four members of Capone’s gang, disguised as police officers, shot down seven members of a rival gang. It was this gang-related violence that led to the repeal of the amendment in 1933.