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The 1920s

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Prohibition

Demon Rum

Bible with temperance pledge and other Prohibition artifacts on display in galleryProhibitionists fought for decades to make alcohol illegal.

Nationally known prohibitionist Carry A. Nation strode through the bars of Holly, Michigan, wielding her umbrella and shouting against "Demon Rum" in 1908. WCTU quilt hangs in the 1920s exhibit. Women's Christian Temperance Union supporters marched in Ann Arbor in 1909 in favor of prohibition. The prohibitionists won in 1917, when voters amended the state constitution, making Michigan a "dry" state.

Women who belonged to the Michigan Women's Christian Temperance Union made and signed this quilt in 1926. These 155 women were among those who had fought for and obtained the 18th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which made the whole nation "dry."

The 18th Amendment

In 1920, the 18th amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol nationwide. Detroit became a center for smuggling illegal liquor from Canada.

The people who drank, broke the law by buying the stuff, using it, really didn't think they were morally or legally doing anything wrong and I suppose the bootlegger felt the same way.

Ray Girardin, Detroit Police Commissioner

Bottles and a pistol found in the Detroit River after Prohibition ended.Law enforcement officials confiscated stills and bottles that were used in making illegal alcohol. Many people who otherwise abided by the law violated Prohibition.

The huge profits made on illegal alcohol encouraged crime on a greater scale. Detroit's notorious Purple Gang ran speakeasies, smuggled alcohol, supplied gangster Al Capone with Canadian liquor and engaged in violent activities during the 1920s.

The 18th amendment was repealed in 1933.


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