This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
December 5 is the 339th day of the year (340th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 26 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1933, The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day.
The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for national liquor abstinence. Several states outlawed the manufacture or sale of alcohol within their own borders. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Prohibition essentially began in June of that year, but the amendment did not officially take effect until January 29, 1920.
The proponents of Prohibition had believed that banning alcoholic beverages would reduce or even eliminate many social problems, particularly drunkenness, crime, mental illness, and poverty, and would eventually lead to reductions in taxes. However, during Prohibition, people continued to produce and drink alcohol, and bootlegging helped foster a massive industry completely under the control of organized crime. Prohibitionists argued that Prohibition would be more effective if enforcement were increased. However, increased efforts to enforce Prohibition simply resulted in the government spending more money, rather than less. Journalist H.L. Mencken asserted in 1925 that respect for law diminished rather than increased during Prohibition, and drunkenness, crime, insanity, and resentment towards the federal government had all increased.
During this period, support for Prohibition diminished among voters and politicians. John D. Rockefeller Jr., a lifelong nondrinker who had contributed much money to the Prohibitionist Anti-Saloon League, eventually announced his support for repeal because of the widespread problems he believed Prohibition had caused. Influential leaders, such as the du Pont brothers, led the Association Against the Prohibition Amendment, whose name clearly asserted its intentions.
Women as a bloc of voters and activists became pivotal in the effort to repeal, as many concluded that the effects of Prohibition were morally corrupting families, women, and children. (By then, women had become even more politically powerful due to ratification of the Constitutional amendment for women’s suffrage.) Activist Pauline Sabin argued that repeal would protect families from the corruption, violent crime, and underground drinking that resulted from Prohibition. In 1929 Sabin founded the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR), which came to be partly composed of and supported by former Prohibitionists; its membership was estimated at 1.5 million by 1931.
The number of repeal organizations and demand for repeal both increased. In 1932, the Democratic Party’s platform included a plank for the repeal of Prohibition, and Democrat Franklin Roosevelt ran for President of the United States promising repeal of federal laws of Prohibition.
63 BC – Cicero reads the last of his Catiline Orations.
663 – Fourth Council of Toledo takes place.
771 – Charlemagne becomes the sole King of the Franks after the death of his brother Carloman.
1082 – Ramon Berenguer II, Count of Barcelona is assassinated.
1408 – Emir Edigu of Golden Horde reaches Moscow.
1484 – Pope Innocent VIII issues the Summis desiderantes, a papal bull that deputizes Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger as inquisitors to root out alleged witchcraft in Germany and leads to one of the most oppressive witch hunts in European history.
1492 – Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
1496 – King Manuel I of Portugal issues a decree of expulsion of “heretics” from the country.
1590 – Niccolo Sfondrati becomes Pope Gregory XIV.
1746 – Revolt in Genoa against Spanish rule.
1757 – Seven Years’ War: Battle of Leuthen – Frederick II of Prussia leads Prussian forces to a decisive victory over Austrian forces under Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine.
1766 – In London, James Christie holds his first sale.
1775 – At Fort Ticonderoga, Henry Knox begins his historic transport of artillery to Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1831 – Former US President John Quincy Adams takes his seat in the House of Representatives.
1847 – Jefferson Davis is elected to the US senate, his first political post.
1848 – California Gold Rush: In a message before the U.S. Congress, US President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.
1876 – Brooklyn Theater Fire kills at least 278 people in Brooklyn, NY.
1932 – German-born Swiss physicist Albert Einstein is granted an American visa.
1933 – Prohibition in the United States ends: Utah becomes the 36th U.S. state to ratify the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution, thus establishing the required 75% of states needed to enact the amendment (this overturned the 18th Amendment which had made the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol illegal in the United States).
1936 – The Soviet Union adopts a new constitution and the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic is established as a full Union Republic of the USSR.
1941 – World War II: In the Battle of Moscow Georgy Zhukov launches a massive Soviet counter-attack against the German army, with the biggest offensive launched against Army Group Centre.
1941 – World War II: Great Britain declares war on Finland, Hungary and Romania.
* 1943 – World War II: U.S. Army Air Force begins attacking Germany’s secret weapons bases in Operation Crossbow .
1952 – Great Smog of 1952: A cold fog descends upon London, combining with air pollution and killing at least 12,000 in the weeks and months that follow.
1955 – The American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations merge and form the AFL-CIO.
1955 – E.D. Nixon and Rosa Parks lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
1957 – Sukarno expels all Dutch people from Indonesia.
1958 – Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) is inaugurated in the UK by Queen Elizabeth II when she speaks to the Lord Provost in a call from Bristol to Edinburgh.
1964 – Vietnam War: For his heroism in battle earlier in the year, Captain Roger Donlon is awarded the first Medal of Honor of the war.
1976 – The United Nations General Assembly adopts Pakistan’s resolution on security of non-Nuclear States.
1977 – Egypt breaks diplomatic relations with Syria, Libya, Algeria, Iraq and South Yemen. The move is in retaliation for the Declaration of Tripoli against Egypt.
1978 – The Soviet Union signs a “friendship treaty” with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
1979 – Sonia Johnson is formally excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for her outspoken criticism of the church concerning the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
1983 – ICIMOD is established and inaugurated with its headquarters in Kathmandu, Nepal, and legitimised through an Act of Parliament in Nepal in the same year.
2005 – The Lake Tanganyika earthquake causes significant damage, mostly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
2005 – The Civil Partnership Act comes into effect in the United Kingdom, and the first civil partnership is registered there.
2006 – Commodore Frank Bainimarama overthrows the government in Fiji.
* Christian Feast Day
o Clement of Alexandria (Episcopal Church in the United States of America)
* Repeal Day (United States)
* Saint Nicholas Eve (Belgium, Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands, Hungary, Romania and the UK)
o Krampus (Austria)