Today In History Spotlights Jan. 16, 1777, Prohibition Begins in the United States

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Today’s History Spotlight

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Prohibition begins in the United States. The 18th Amendment of the US Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors. Prohibitionists first attempted to end the trade in alcoholic drinks during the 19th century. Led by pietistic Protestants, they aimed to heal what they saw as an ill society beset by alcohol-related problems such as alcoholism, family violence and saloon-based political corruption. Many communities introduced alcohol bans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and enforcement of these new prohibition laws became a topic of debate. Prohibition supporters, called “drys,” presented it as a battle for public morals and health.

The movement was taken up by progressives in the Prohibition, Democratic and Republican parties, and gained a national grassroots base through the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. After 1900, it was coordinated by the Anti-Saloon League. Opposition from the beer industry mobilized “wet” supporters from the wealthy Catholic and German Lutheran communities, but the influence of these groups receded from 1917 following the entry of the US into the First World War against Germany.

What Happened On This Day – January 16

  • 2005 Adriana Iliescu gives birth at the age of 66. The Romanian university lecturer broke the record for the world’s oldest birth mother.
  • 1992 The civil war in El Salvador ends. The war had lasted over 12 years and left more than 75,000 people dead.
  • 1979 The Shah of Iran flees the country. As a consequence, Ayatollah Khomeini later took power and proclaimed the Islamic Republic.
  • 1919 Prohibition begins in the United States. The 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.
  • 27 The Roman Empire is established. One of the events marking the beginning of the Imperium Romanum was the Roman Senate’s granting of the honorific Augustus to Octavian on this day.

Births On This Day – January 16

  • 1974 Kate Moss – English model
  • 1959 Sade Adu – Nigerian/English singer-songwriter, producer
  • 1948 John Carpenter – American director
  • 1933 Susan Sontag – American author
  • 1932 Dian Fossey – American zoologist

Deaths On This Day – January 16

  • 2009 John Mortimer – English lawyer, author
  • 1986 Herbert W. Armstrong – American evangelist, author, publisher
  • 1979 Ted Cassidy – American actor
  • 1957 Arturo Toscanini – Italian conductor
  • 1917 George Dewey – American Admiral

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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