A Toast to the End of Prohibition

Cheers to St Patrick!

It was 86 years ago today that a constitutional prohibition on the sale of alcohol was repealed in America, but Houstonians, who had a storied history with alcohol, could not imbibe to celebrate.

Houston historian Mike Vance says we've had a long-standing love affair with liquor in the city. "I'll just tell you that drinking in Houston is a long, long established tradition." He says it's always been a part of the city's charm since we arose from a swamp. "The town had saloons everywhere. Most of them were in tents. They didn't even stop to build buildings. The entire time the city was the capital of the Republic of Texas we never had a church, but we had nothing but saloons."

The relationship between Texas and alcohol was rocky and tenuous.

65% of Texans voted against prohibition in 1887, and rejected it again on a statewide ballot in 1911, but in February 1918 the Texas legislature ratified the Constitutional amendment prohibiting alcohol sales, followed by a statewide ban passed by the legislature in 1919.

"Houston went into Prohibition kicking and screaming. Everything north of present day I-10 was pretty much dry, but south of I-10 there were more Germans, and African Americans, and Mexican Americans, and especially Catholics and they liked to drink," says Vance. Prior to Prohibition, there were 10 wet counties in Texas, 43 partly wet and 201 completely dry counties.

When the 21st Amendment repealed Prohibition and alcohol could again be sold in the U.S., it didn't impact Texas because of that state law. It was not until August of 1935 that voters in Texas repealed the statewide prohibition.

And you know what that means? We've got some catching up to do.

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