One of the most famous teetotalers, Kansas resident Carrie A. Nation, made a name for herself as the hatchet-wielding champion of alcohol prohibition. Famous for using rocks, hammers and hatchets to destroy saloons and the bottles of liquor inside, she was arrested 30 times between 1900 and 1910. She was a controversial figure even within the ranks of the temperance movement, but her antics drew national attention to the issue of alcohol prohibition in the United States.
During Prohibition, brewers were allowed to make beer containing less than 1/2% alcohol per volume. This became known as Near Beer. To make Near Beer, brewers boiled beer to get rid of excess alcohol. Even when de-alcoholized according to the law, Near Beer was often delivered to customers with a separate package containing a portion of the raw alcohol boiled off. The recipient then squirted the alcohol back into the Near Beer with a syringe, making it Needle Beer.
Named so because often a patron might ask the attendee (a.k.a. bartender) for a drink a little too loudly and be kindly reminded to “speak easy”. The speakeasy was different from its predecessor, the saloon, in many ways. It was more exciting. The possibility of a raid made it daring and fun. The liquor served was not always quality and it could make you ill or worse. Yet, the price of a drink (good or bad) had doubled and in some cases tripled. The most notable difference between a speakeasy and saloon was the presence of women. It was now fashionable for “proper” women to be seen drinking. Women weren’t welcomed in saloons as these were considered a man’s source of entertainment. At the speakeasy, women were embracing all sorts of new liberties including daring new fashions, the right to vote and unchaperoned dating.
After a decade, the battle to repeal Prohibition began to take hold and many sensed the end was near. Automobile mogul, Henry Ford, was a staunch supporter of a dry America and announced that if Prohibition was repealed, he would abandon the automobile industry, “I wouldn’t be interested in putting automobiles into the hands of a generation soggy with drink.” We agree. Always designate a sober driver.
Prior to Prohibition, it was a worker’s right, often written into their contract, to receive a bucket of beer mid-morning, at noon and mid-afternoon. Of course then, beer was a lot safer to drink than water. With Prohibition, these particular employee benefits were taken away without compensation. Prohibition also denied soldiers this basic civic liberty as they returned home from duty overseas following World War I.
Prohibition Ends With New Beer's Eve.