The prohibition period officially started on 16 January 1920. Way before this time period, the drive to ban the production, sale, import, and transportation had been brewing. According to the Progressives, Protestants, and other activists, this move could deal with all the society’s ills like poor health, loose morals, public drunkenness, and domestic violence.
This was the time when advocates of prohibition started convincing heavy drinkers that sacrificing alcohol drinks was a little contribution that they can make towards creating a better society. Later on, during the progressive movement of the 19th and the initial times of the 20th century, there were some places where alcohol remained legal, but drinking openly in social circles was not accepted.
The prohibition of alcohol could not really stop people from having alcohol. Many people kept a bottle of alcohol with them, and the best place for hiding the alcohol bottle was the top part of a tall boot. For a very long time, the top part of the boot had been used by various people for hiding knives and guns, and during the prohibition period, people introduced one more use of it.
Where did the term ‘bootlegging’ come from?
The leg of the boot has been known by the name boot-leg since the 17th century. The term was commonly used in the 1800s, and with the idea of concealing alcohol flask in it to illegally trade alcohol was known as Bootlegging. The term bootlegging was first used in Kansas that too within a decade of the prohibition laws.
During the time of the 18th amendment in the United States, the term bootlegging was used widely. At this time, prohibition had spread nationwide, and bootlegging did not just confine to smuggling alcohol, it was also used to smuggle babies. This was known as bootleg babies. Bootlegging was now used for almost all illegal things.
The prohibition time was an interesting period in American History. Bootlegging got out of control, and the police force of federal agents tried everything to keep the country in control by strictly handling the bootleggers. People who were a part of this illegal trade could do anything in their power to outrun the federal agents. They sped their car engines and strengthened their suspensions and used other such tactics to reach their end customers.
The whole idea of the prohibition period was to lessen the consumption of alcohol drinks among Americans. On the contrary, people consumed 39% more alcohol from 1919 to 1929. People split their consumption into potent beer and strong liquors like whiskey and wines. The wealthy people stored the maximum amount of alcohol before the enactment of the 18th amendment act.
President Woodrow Wilson himself stored large amounts of alcohol in the White House. When he left the office in 1921, he got his stock shifted to his house, and likewise, the next president got his liquor store shifted to the White House. The historian of that time, Lizabeth Cohen, puts it in her own words, and she says – “A rich family could have a cellar-full of liquor and get by, it looks, but if a poor family had one bottle of home-brew, there would be trouble.” Well, rich always get away with their felonies.