In anticipation of the opening November 9 of American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, we put together some material in the Library Lobby to showcase the Minnesota angle and whet visitors’ appetite for more!
Minnesota played a major role in Prohibition, the banning of alcohol in the United States from 1920 – 1933 made possible by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The Temperance Movement (supporters of making liquor illegal) had been active here since the 1880s, but it was the National Prohibition Act (also known as the Volstead Act) championed by Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead that made the Amendment reality.
Liquor, of course, did not go away, just underground. A brisk illegal trade in alcohol could be found nationwide, but it was to Saint Paul the gangsters would come to either vacation or “let things cool off.” An arrangement with the Saint Paul Police made the city a haven for criminals. As long as bribes were paid and crime was not committed in the city, Saint Paul Police agreed to look the other way. While this made for some interesting visitors, this arrangement did not last long.
Come take a look at these amazing pieces from that time, showing all sides in the great national debate that came to a largely joyous end in 1933.
This exhibit is open the same hours as the Library.