|Season 1, Episode 2: A Nation of Scofflaws
Original Air Date—3 October 2011
With the passing of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, the federal government now passes legislation to enforce it. Known as the Volstead Act, the legislation forbids not only hard liquor but also beer and light wine which many legislators assumed would be exempted. Penalties as well were far harsher than many had expected. The ban on alcoholic beverages could not be complete as alcohol was required by many industrial processes. There were also exemptions for religious observances and for medicinal purposes. In fact, from the day the ban went into into effect,entrepreneurs found ways, some legal, most not – to get around the law. Some States had no legislation to implement the new amendment to the constitution and for the most part, the Federal government was left on its own to enforce it. Rum running. became big business with schooners plying their trade on both the Pacific and Atlantic sides of the U.S. By the mid-1920s many people had come to the conclusion that prohibition was a mistake. Those who drank were drinking more and with no way for government to regulate the illegal industry, they were also drinking bad liquor. Criminal gangs sprang up across the country but Chicago became synonymous with vice and booze.