28
Oct
08

On This Day, 10-28-2008: The Volstead Act

October 28, 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis comes to an end

The Cuban Missile crisis comes to a close as Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agrees to remove Russian missiles from Cuba in exchange for a promise from the United States to respect Cuba’s territorial sovereignty. This ended nearly two weeks of anxiety and tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that came close to provoking a nuclear conflict.

The consequences of the crisis were many and varied. Relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union were on shaky ground for some time after Khrushchev’s removal of the missiles, as Fidel Castro accused the Russians of backing down from the Americans and deserting the Cuban revolution. European allies of the United States were also angered, not because of the U.S. stance during the crisis, but because the Kennedy administration kept them virtually in the dark about negotiations that might have led to an atomic war. Inside the Soviet Union, hard-liners were appalled at Khrushchev’s withdrawal of the weapons. Two years later, in 1964, Leonid Brezhnev and Aleksei Kosygin pushed him from power and proceeded to lead the Soviet Union on a massive military buildup.

There was perhaps one positive aspect of the crisis. Having gone to the edge of what President Kennedy referred to as the “abyss of destruction,” cooler heads in both nations initiated steps to begin some control over nuclear weapons. Less than a year after the crisis ended, the United States and Soviet Union signed an agreement to end aboveground testing; in 1968, both nations signed a non-proliferation treaty.

“The Cuban Missile Crisis comes to an end.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Oct 2008, 12:27 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=2467.

On This Day

1636 – Harvard College was founded in Massachusetts. The original name was Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was the first school of higher education in America.

1776 – The Battle of White Plains took place during the American Revolutionary War.

1886 – The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor by U.S. President Cleveland. The statue weighs 225 tons and is 152 feet tall. It was originally known as “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

1904 – The St. Louis Police Department became the first to use fingerprinting.

1922 – Benito Mussolini took control of the Italian government and introduced fascism to Italy.

1936 – The Statue of Liberty was rededicated by U.S. President Roosevelt on its 50th anniversary.

1940 – During World War II, Italy invaded Greece.

1949 – U.S. President Harry Truman swore in Eugenie Moore Anderson as the U.S. ambassador to Denmark. Anderson was the first woman to hold the post of ambassador.

1965 – Pope Paul VI issued a decree absolving Jews of collective guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

1976 – John D. Erlichman, a former aide to U.S. President Richard Nixon, entered a federal prison camp in Safford, AZ, to begin serving his sentence for Watergate-related convictions.

1986 – The centennial of the Statue of Liberty was celebrated in New York.

1988 – Roussel Uclaf, a French manufacturer that produces the abortion pill RU486, announced it would resume distribution of the drug after the government of France demanded it do so.

1996 – The Dow Jones Industial Average gained a record 337.17 points (or 5%). The day before the Dow had dropped 554.26 points (or 7%).

October 28, 1919

Congress enforces prohibition

Congress passes the Volstead Act over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, also known as the Prohibition Amendment.

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. 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. In January 1919, the 18th amendment achieved the necessary two-thirds majority of state ratification, and prohibition became the law of the land.

The Volstead Act, passed nine months later, provided for the enforcement of prohibition, including the creation of a special unit of the Treasury Department. Despite a vigorous effort by law-enforcement agencies, the Volstead Act failed to prevent the large-scale distribution of alcoholic beverages, and organized crime flourished in America. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, repealing prohibition.

“Congress enforces prohibition.” 2008. The History Channel website. 28 Oct 2008, 12:11 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=5476.

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