Friday, February 20, 2015

Legislation To Restore The Pour

It wasn't until my early thirties and the help of friends and colleagues at Tybee Island that I learned to enjoy a glass of beer. The journey has its beginning a decade earlier at the University of Maryland in College Park. In those ancient days of the 1960's one could not buy a beer legally in Maryland until the age of 21. Fortunately for Maryland students, the campus was little more than two miles from the District of Columbia where beer could be had at the tender age of eighteen. The situation was absurd on several levels least of which was the blurring of jurisdiction and enforcement. It brings us to this February 20, 1933 and legislation introduced in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, a mere eight miles from the Maryland campus. 

In 1933, Prohibition - with mixed results - had been in effect across most of the nation since 1920. The halls of Congress were no exception and "the man in the green hat" served his constituency well. His name was George Cassiday and his business was supplying Congress with booze during Prohibition. From 1920 to 1925, he worked for members of Congress out of his office in the Cannon House Office Building until he was arrested for bootlegging. After a brief hiatus, he returned to serving his loyal customers from 1925 to 1930 out of an office in the Russell Senate Office Building. In a confession in a series of articles in The Washington Post prior to the midterm elections he wrote that at least 80% of congressmen and senators had enjoyed his services over the thirteen year period. The series and a sympathetic electorate soon change the political landscape. Voters took revenge on the Republican majority and replaced it with an anti-Prohibition Democrat majority who wasted no time introducing legislation for repeal.  

With the February 20, 1933 introduction of legislation proposing the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution the process of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment began. Within ten months Prohibition came to a happy end. If you enjoy a beer or something a tad stronger take a moment to remember this day and the good times it has afforded you and your friends over the decades. You may want to toast the man in the green hat as well. Regardless, I think it makes good sense to remember what cultural research tells us about the subject: we have enjoyed a brew for many thousands of years.  In fact, fermented drink is perhaps the earliest foodway tradition in virtually all cultures.  May the tradition continue verumtamen in iudicio: ut dux vester.

See information section of the video for a translation.

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