The "Noble Experiment" Ends

"An obvious flop, Prohibition nonetheless continued to hang on until the onset of the Depression and the election of Franklin Roosevelt," wrote Chicago Tribune journalist Rick Kogan in an essay for the book Chicago Days. "Its final undoing came at the hands of Utah, which became the 36th state to ratify repeal in the form of the 21st Amendment."

Passed on December 5, 1933, that amendment contains two short but important sentences:

Section 1: The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.

Section 2: The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or Possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section one made it again legal to import, produce, and sell beverage alcohol, while section two delegated to the individual states authority for regulating such beverages.

The same day the 21st Amendment passed, this cartoon by John T. McCutcheon, the original of which is in the Newberry collection, ran on the Tribune's front page, which is reprinted in full above Kogan's Chicago Days essay. Titled "Third Challenger," it focuses on the amendment's Section 2, and wonders whether state regulation—the "Third Challenger"—can be any match for the seemingly unconquerable "Liquor Traffic."