18Th and 19th Amendments

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This paper tells that both the 18th and 19th amendments to the American Constitution and their implementation history show such a complex path of rising and fall. The 18th amendment, that came into effect between 1920 and 1933, prohibited manufacture, selling and transportation of alcohol in the country. The 19th amendment was ratified in 1920, which made constitutional the right of every citizen to cast vote in elections without being discriminated on the basis of race or gender. The alcohol prohibition amendment had to be later repealed as there was widespread abuses of…(the)… law. But the 19th amendment stood the test of time and despite the attempts to legally contest it, the amendment was endorsed by Supreme Court as part of the Constitution. The 18th amendment had become a historical necessity because of the poverty and economic backwardness that grew in the society, as associated with drinking. In the first century and half of the colonial rule in America, drinking was considered quite a normal entertainment activity. Though drunkenness was considered as a vice, the blame always went to the drinker, not to those who manufactured or sold alcohol. But slowly, people came to understand the real nature of alcohol that is addictive and unhealthy. Thus alcohol came to be identified with poverty, breakage of peace in the family and also in the social fabric as well. The late 1800s and early 1900s saw the formation of temperance societies which campaigned against alcoholism. Though by 1916, 23 states enacted prohibition laws, it was the 18th amendment, passed in 1920, that applied prohibition to the whole of the nation. The major drawback of this legislation which eventually led to its repeal (owing to being ineffective), was that it only prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor, while possession, consumption or home production were not banned. The amendment had given a one year relaxation period to clear the existing stocks but this omission further weakened the legislation.