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Putting the Mortgage on the Cradle, poster by The American Issue Publishing Co., 1917

Advocates for prohibition sought to limit the destructive power of alcohol and its impact on families and society. This poster, published when Congress approved a resolution for a prohibition amendment in 1917, urged states to ratify it. Ratification by three-fourths of the states—36 of the 48 then in the Union—was required to amend the Constitution.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Putting the Mortgage on the Cradle, poster by The American Issue Publishing Co., 1917

The Eighteenth Amendment: Prohibition

The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transport of alcoholic beverages. It was the product of a temperance movement that began in the 1830s. The movement grew in the Progressive Era, when social problems such as poverty and drunkenness gained public attention. Groups like the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874 and led by Frances Willard, made prohibition a national issue and pressed Congress for action. In 1917 Congress approved a resolution for a prohibition amendment. It was ratified in 1919 but later repealed.

This alcoholic drug adds poverty of the blackest, dreariest, and most hopeless sort to the list of its offenses. Such is its power that men will take bread money from their families and make it blood money for drink.

Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas, Speech to the U.S. Senate, July 30, 1917