What Was the 21st Amendment?

21st-amendment Credit: Aleksandar Nakic/E+/Getty Images

The 21st Amendment, an addendum to the original Constitution, repealed the 18th Amendment. The 18th Amendment prohibited the sale, distribution and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages. The 18th Amendment began the era of Prohibition, but the 21st Amendment ended it.

Congress passed the 21st Amendment on Feb. 20, 1933, and it was ratified on Dec. 5, 1933. The 18th Amendment is the only amendment that has ever been repealed.

The 18th Amendment, ratified on Jan. 16, 1919, paved the way for Prohibition, a period in U.S. history when people were not able to drink or purchase alcohol freely. Prohibition led to many detrimental effects, including the manufacture of dangerous or even deadly alcoholic concoctions, the use of drugs instead of alcohol, heavier consumption of alcohol and the corruption of public officials. Some supporters of Prohibition who finally realized that the 18th Amendment was doing more harm than good called for the repeal of the 18th Amendment.