Year
1933
Month Day
March 22

FDR legalizes sale of beer and wine

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. This law levies a federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to raise revenue for the federal government and gives individual states the option to further regulate the sale and distribution of beer and wine.

With the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act in 1919, temperance advocates in the U.S. finally achieved their long sought-after goal of prohibiting the sale of alcohol or “spirits.” Together, the new laws prohibited the manufacture, sale or transportation of liquor and ushered in the era known as “Prohibition,” defining an alcoholic beverage as anything containing over 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. President Woodrow Wilson had unsuccessfully tried to veto the Volstead Act, which set harsh punishments for violating the 18th Amendment and endowed the Internal Revenue Service with unprecedented regulatory and enforcement powers. In the end, Prohibition proved difficult and expensive to enforce and actually increased illegal trafficking without cutting down on consumption. In one of his first addresses to Congress as president, FDR announced his intention to modify the Volstead Act with the Beer and Wine Revenue Act.

No fan of temperance himself, FDR had developed a taste for alcohol when he attended New York cocktail parties as a budding politician. (While president, FDR refused to fire his favorite personal valet for repeated drunkenness on the job.) FDR considered the new law “of the highest importance” for its potential to generate much-needed federal funds and included it in a sweeping set of New Deal policies designed to vault the U.S. economy out of the Great Depression.

The Beer and Wine Revenue act was followed, in December 1933, by the passage of the 21st Amendment, which officially ended Prohibition.

READ MORE: The Night of Prohibition Ended

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Mudslide in Washington state kills more than 40 people

On March 22, 2014, 43 people die when a portion of a hill suddenly collapses and buries a neighborhood in the small community of Oso, Washington, some 55 miles northeast of Seattle. It was one of the deadliest mudslides in U.S. history. The collapse occurred shortly after 10:30 ...read more

American naval hero killed in duel

U.S. Navy officer Stephen Decatur, hero of the Barbary Wars, is mortally wounded in a duel with disgraced Navy Commodore James Barron at Bladensburg, Maryland. Although once friends, Decatur sat on the court-martial that suspended Barron from the Navy for five years in 1808 and ...read more

Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress

On March 22, 1972, the Equal Rights Amendment is passed by the U.S. Senate and sent to the states for ratification. First proposed by the National Woman’s political party in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was to provide for the legal equality of the sexes and prohibit ...read more

Arab League formed

Representatives from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen meet in Cairo to establish the Arab League, a regional organization of Arab states. Formed to foster economic growth in the region, resolve disputes between its members, and coordinate ...read more

Stamp Act imposed on American colonies

In an effort to raise funds to pay off debts and defend the vast new American territories won from the French in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the British government passes the Stamp Act on March 22, 1765. The legislation levied a direct tax on all materials printed for ...read more

First Stanley Cup championship played

On March 22, 1894, the first championship series for Lord Stanley’s Cup is played in Montreal, Canada. The Stanley Cup has since become one of the most cherished and recognized trophies in sport. The Stanley Cup was the creation of Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, lord of Preston ...read more

News Corp and NBC announce new internet venture

In a long-anticipated challenge to sites like YouTube, two entertainment giants–News Corporation and NBC Universal–announce a high-stakes internet venture on March 22, 2007. According to the terms of the deal, News Corporation, owned by the Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, ...read more

Teachers are indicted at the McMartin Preschool

Seven teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California are indicted by the Los Angeles County grand jury after hearing testimony from 18 children. Included among the charged are Peggy McMartin Buckey, the head of the school and her son Ray Buckey. Seven years and ...read more

President Truman orders loyalty checks of federal employees

In response to public fears and Congressional investigations into communism in the United States, President Harry S. Truman issues an executive decree establishing a sweeping loyalty investigation of federal employees. As the Cold War began to develop after World War II, fears ...read more

The origins of the Hummer

On March 22, 1983, the Pentagon awards a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation to develop 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Nicknamed the Humvee and designed to transport troops and cargo, the wide, rugged vehicles ...read more