While the 18th amendment kept booze mostly out of reach, some men like George Remus and Nucky Johnson learned how to exploit the system - and made a killing out of it.
After decades of decrying liquor and its corrosive impact on American culture, the Prohibition Party got their wish in 1919 when the 18th Amendment took effect, banning the manufacture and sale of alcohol. The ban was almost unenforceable from day one. The "Lost Generation" flocked to speakeasies, moonshine was made at home, corruption infected every level of the government, and gangsters grew in wealth and power. Witness the early days of Prohibition and the violent events that sent it careening towards its final days.
Watch this episode online now.
and hundreds more by starting your free trial of Smithsonian Channel Plus.
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.