Chronography of Alcohol Regulation and Prohibition

Page last modified 16/8/2022


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See also Morals and Fashion

See also Alcoholic Drinks


"I can't think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they're dead." - Laura Kightlinger, US actress

1400 BC, An Egyptian papyrus of this date warns �Do not get drunk in the taverns in which they drink ale, for fear that people repeat words that may have gone out of your mouth without you being aware of having uttered them�.


1/6/2008, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, introduced a ban on drinking alcohol on the London Underground.

21/8/1988, British licencing laws were relaxed to allow pubs to open for 12 hours a day.

1/4/1985, The UK Government imposed an alcohol ban on selected football grounds.

1980, In the US, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded.


Alcoholics Anonymous

24/1/1971, Bill W, US co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, died.

15/7/1948. Alcoholics Anonymous was founded in London, having been in existence in America since 1935.


1937, British pubs began introducing the saloon bar. This was to appeal to those wanting bourgeouis comfort rather than a �spit and sawdust� public bar, but who did not want the formal sophisticatiojn of a cocktail bar.

12/5/1935, A chance meeting between two alcoholics, Dr Robert Smith and William Wilson, which led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.

30/1/1932. Finland in a referendum vote chose to end prohibition of alcohol.

12/6/1931. Al Capone and 68 henchmen were charged with 5,000 offences regarding breaching the USA Prohibition laws.

31/10/1929, Nova Scotia voted to repeal Prohibition. This left Prince Edward Island as the only �dry� region in Canada.

1928. Under Prohibition, over 1,500 Americans went blind each year through drinking bad liquor, and bootlegger wars killed hundreds more. Enforcing Prohibition was costly, and had by no means halted alcohol consumption.

13/7/1923, Britain made sales of alcohol to under-18s illegal.

30/4/1923. The US only permitted alcohol consumption on ships 3 miles or more out at sea.

6/10/1922. Alcohol was banned on all US ships in port.

23/11/1921, In the US, President Harding banned doctors from prescribing beer.

4/12/1920. An attempt to introduce Prohibition to Scotland failed.

6/10/1919. Norway adopted alcohol Prohibition.

11/4/1919, In a referendum, New Zealand rejected Prohibition.


Prohibition, USA

5/12/1933. Prohibition Laws repealed in the USA, by the 21st Amendment, after over 13 dry years, leaving individual States free to determine their known drinks laws. See 16/1/1920. Utah was the last state to ratify the 21st Amendment, which nullified the 18th Amendment of 1919 prohibiting the manufacture sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors. Prohibition had not stopped alcohol consumption, but merely driven it underground into the criminal world. America celebrated so much that 1.5 million barrels of beer were drunk the first night. Towns ran dry, and were drunk dry again the next night too. Prohibition had simply created enormous opportunities for organised crime.

11/8/1932, US President Hoover said it was time to scrap Prohibition.

16/1/1920. Prohibition began in the USA (18th Amendment), and the sale, manufacture, or involvement with alcohol was banned.

See also USA for more Prohibition dates.

16/1/1919, The US ratified the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors after one year. See 16/1/1920.

18/12/1917, The United States Congress submitted Prohibition legislation to the states. The 18th Amendment was known as the Volstead Act, after its chief sponsor, Andrew Volstead of Minnesota. It took a further 13 months for the necessary three quarters of US states to ratify the Act for it to become law, see 16/1/1919.

2/7/1916. The US States of Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, and South Dakota brought in Prohibition, bringing the number of states banning alcohol to 24.

7/11/1915, 40,000 people protested in Chicago, USA, at a new law closing bars on Sundays.

6/11/1911, The US state of Maine banned alcohol.

11/9/1910, An attempt to repeal Prohibition laws in Maine failed.

21/1/1909. Tennessee adopted alcohol prohibition.

26/5/1908. The US State of North Carolina introduced Prohibition, banning alcohol.

1/1/1908. The US state of Georgia introduced prohibition, banning alcohol.

18/11/1874. In the USA, the National Women�s Christian Temperance Union was founded. Women would invade saloons and sing hymns and pray; the point being that drunkenness and ill-treatment of women often went together.

4/7/1855. New York became the 13th state to ban the production or sale of alcoholic beverages.

1852, The US States of Massachusetts, Vermont and Louisiana brought in Prohibition.

1851, Maine became the first US State to ban the sale of alcohol.


6/4/1915, In Britain, the King ordered a Prohibition on alcohol in all the Royal Households.

9/6/1911, Carry Amelia Nation, US campaigner for abstention from alcohol, died aged 64.

18/1/1909. New Zealand brewers abolished barmaids and banned women from buying alcohol in bars.

10/3/1903, The Academy of Medicine, Paris, issued a report denouncing alcohol as detrimental to health.

12/5/1902, The Court of Appeal reversed the legal decision of 22/4/1902, and allowed barmaids to work in pubs, following protests by pub landlords, barmaids and the public.

22/4/1902, Magistrates in Glasgow ruled that female barmaids must be replaced by men, because of the moral hazards of pubs. Pubs employing female staff would not have their licences renewed. See 12/5/1902.

24/10/1900, In London, the National Union of Women Workers held a meeting about drunkenness and illness.

2/10/1897, Neal Dow, US Temperance campaigner, died (born 20/3/1804).

1893, The Anti-Saloon Leauge was established in the USA, to promote the end of alcohol use through legislation. The Leauge continued to exist during and after Prohibition, and became part of the National Temperance League in 1950.

30/12/1887, A petition signed by over one million women was presented to Queen Victoria, asking for pubs to be closed on Sundays. The petition failed.

1874. UK pubs were now forced to close all night, between 12.30 an and 5am, under new Licxencing Acts 1872 and 1874. Sunday nigtht closure was now brought forward to 11 pm. See 1855.

1870, The American Association for the Cure of Inebriates (AACI) was founded.

1846, London pibs were now also forced to close between 1am and 4am, to curb prostitution in areas such as Haymarket. See 1855. See also 1874.

8/12/1856, Theobald Mathew, Irish Temperance preacher, died (born 10/10/1790).

1855, London pubs were now also forced to close from 3 to 5pm on Sundays. See 1839. See also 1864.

1854, In Britain the 1854 Sale of Beer Act limited pub Sunday opening hours. There were riots, and the UK never attempted the level of Prohibition that was enacted in the USA.

1839, Up until now, London pubs were allowed to open all hours pf the day and night, excepting Sunday mornings during church services. From this time the Metropolitan Police., alarmed by Saturday night disorder, forced a closure from midnight Saturday to 1pm Sunday. See 1855.

2/2/1830, The first Temperance Society in Britain was formed, in Bradford, Yorkshire, by Mr Henry Forbes.

13/2/1826, The American Temperance Society was formed.

10/10/1790, Theobald Mathew, Irish Temperance preacher, was born (died 8/12/1856).

1735, In England, distillers were producing 5.4 million gallons of gin annually � 1 gallon per man, woman and child.


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