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Prohibition & Rum Running

The Anti-Saloon League, founded in Ohio in 1893, paved the way for passage of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and by January 1920, thirty-three states had already enacted laws prohibiting. The Rum Runners thrived between 1920 and 1933 while the Anti-Saloon League lobbied for strict federal alcohol prohibition. 

At the outset of Prohibition, Rum Running was in its' primitive form. The  vessels were primarily fishing schooners which were occasionally retro-fitted with hidden holds, or the liquor may have been simply covered in cod fish in the event the ships were boarded by the authorities.



When the enforcement of the coast line became more advanced, so did the Rum Runners techniques.  They would often camouflage their boats by painting them grey so that they would be less visible on the horizon. At the same time, they became more brazen, and would often load the liquor right on the deck to maximize their profits which would often be in excess of 100,000 dollars per trip.


With the enormous profits being made by the Rum Runners, they were now able to design and build customized vessels which were steel hulled, low profile vessels which were nearly undetectable by the Coast Guard. These vessels would carry enormous loads of liquor and some even had retractable smoke stacks.  These vessels formed what became known as the Banana Fleet, named after their odd, but effective, shape.


By 1932, it was becoming obvious that repeal of the Eighteenth amendment was coming, and some of the steam began to run On December 5, 1933 the Twenty-first Amendment became law of the land. Prohibition was dead and the Rum Runners went back to fishing.