“I think this would be a good time for beer.”
-Franklin Roosevelt, March 12, 1933
One of the most popular bills enacted during the First100 Days had nothing to do with banking, farms, or public works.
During the 1932 campaign, FDR had come out against Prohibition. The 18th Amendment, ratified 13 years earlier, banned the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors. Meant to end the curse of alcoholism, it had led instead to lawlessness and helped foster organized crime. A constitutional amendment to repeal it was working its way through the state legislatures. But Roosevelt saw a way to quench the voters’ thirst more quickly. He signed into law the Beer-Wine Revenue Act that legalized (and taxed) beverages containing no more than 3.2 percent alcohol—which the authors of the new law carefully defined as “non-intoxicating.” Millions of Americans celebrated the return of legal beer. Prohibition was officially repealed by the 21st Amendment in December 1933.