Volstead Act

From Ohio History Central
Wilson, Woodrow Visiting Columbus.jpg
President Woodrow Wilson is seen visiting Columbus, Ohio on December 10, 1915.

The Volstead Act, also known as the National Prohibition Act, established the legal basis for the federal government to enforce the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within the United States and its territories.

On October 28, 1919, the United States Congress implemented the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson's veto. The Volstead Act defined beer, wine, and other types of liquor as being illegal in the United States if the alcohol content of those beverages exceeded one-half of one percent. The Volstead Act defined exactly what an intoxicating liquor was. In conjunction with the Eighteenth Amendment, the Volstead Act ushered in the Prohibition Era in the United States.

Prohibition divided Ohioans. While voters in many communities, including Westerville, openly embraced the Volstead Act and the Eighteenth Amendment, other Ohioans liked to drink alcohol and actively campaigned against the amendment's ratification. The amendment found especially strong support in rural areas, where Methodism and other evangelical religious groups dominated. Urban Ohioans proved to be much more opposed to Prohibition. Undoubtedly, this was because a majority of bars, distilleries, and breweries were located in urban areas. Illustrating this division within the state, when Ohio voters voted to ratify the Eighteenth Amendment, the issue carried by only 25,759 votes.

See Also


  1. Cronon, E. David. The Political Thought of Woodrow Wilson. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965.
  2. Daugherty, Henry Micajah. The Inside Story of the Harding Tragedy. New York, NY: The Churchill Company, 1932. 
  3. DiNunzio, Mario R. Woodrow Wilson: Essential Writings and Speeches of the Scholar-President. New York: New York University Press, 2006.
  4. Hamm, Richard F. Shaping the Eighteenth Amendment: Temperance Reform, Legal Culture, and the Polity, 1880-1920. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995.
  5. McFadden, William Joseph. The Law of Prohibition: Volstead Act Annotated, Rules of Law Governing the Practice and Procedure in the Federal Courts. Chicago, IL: Callaghan, 1925 
  6. Murray, Robert K. The Harding Era: Warren G. Harding and His Administration. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1969.  
  7. Murray, Robert K. The Politics of Normalcy: Governmental Theory and Practice in the Harding-Coolidge Era. New York, NY: Norton, 1973. 
  8. Report of Ohio Constitutional Convention, Repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment and Ratification of Twenty-First Amendment. Columbus, OH: The F.H. Heer Printing Co., 1936.
  9. Trani, Eugene P, and David L. Wilson. The Presidency of Warren G. Harding. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1977. 
  10. Behr, Edward. Prohibition: Thirteen Years that Changed America. New York, NY: Arcade Pub., 1996.  
  11. Clark, Norman. Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York, NY: Norton, 1976.  
  12. Kobler, John. Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York, NY: Putnam, 1973.