Dec. 5, 1933: The U.S. Constitution’s 14-year prohibition of alcohol consumption, an outgrowth of the Maine Liquor Law of the 1850s, comes to an end when Utah becomes the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment.

The Constitution requires that for an amendment to take effect, it must be passed by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratified by three-quarters of the states. At the time of Utah’s vote, the country has 48 states.

Reacting to the news, the Rev. Frederick W. Smith of Waterville, superintendent of the Christian Civic League, says the days of the drunkard are returning to the Pine Tree State.

Sale of beer containing up to 3.2 percent alcohol had been authorized the previous July, and Smith notes that 1,214 arrests for intoxication occurred in July, August and September, a 33 percent increase from the 903 recorded in the same period in 1932.

Apparently paying Smith no heed, Maine ratifies the amendment the next day.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

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