Era of Bootlegging


PicturePabst Brewery in 1935 at the end of national Prohibition
For 14 years prohibition lasted in this country during which time the production, distribution, or sale of alcohol was illegal. The 18th Amendment that brought about prohibition is the only federal amendment ever repealed. Cities like Milwaukee built profitable industries around alcohol production and employed thousands of workers. 

Attempting to make illegal what had always been legal mostly just drove the market underground. Bootleggers took advantage of this opportunity and supplied illegal bars nicknamed speakeasies because a patron had to "speak easy" with a password to gain admission.

The video below is of a notorious bootlegger in the North West who acted against the amendment he did not believe was right. There were many people supportive of his actions against prohibition.

Similar cases arose throughout the country. Major brewing cities such as Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis witnessed their industries devastated by prohibition acts. Yet alcohol continued to flow.  Milwaukee was notorious for its speakeasies.  Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan once quipped, "The whole United States Army could not dry up Milwaukee". At one point New York figured to have around 100,000 speakeasies. The law did little to deter people from getting a drink. (Legends of America)

We want to celebrate the rich history of this time at our Bootlegger’s Bash on May 16th. There will be a traditional “speakeasy,” complete with hidden door and password! We will also be dressed for the time, and serve time period specific appetizers. Come check it out! Chudnow Events

By Dustin Hochmuth,
Museum Intern, UW-Whitewater Communications Major



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