On this day in 1933, Michigan became the first state to ratify the repeal of federal prohibition.
With our state’s close proximity to Canada, Michigan became a center for bootlegging and rumrunning. Some experts believe that three-quarters of all the illegal alcohol in the U.S. during the prohibition era entered the country via the Detroit River. Additional stores of alcohol were produced illegally in Detroit. By 1928, it was estimated that there were between 16,000 and 25,000 speakeasies in the Detroit area.
The illegal alcohol trade brought crime as well. Detroit’s Purple Gang used violence to secure their hold on the alcohol trade in the region. The gang was brought down by the Collingwood Manor Massacre, in which members of the Purple Gang gunned down three rival gang members. Police caught the perpetrators and they were sentenced to jail.
Tired of the criminal activity and violence, Michiganders were eager to end the experiment of prohibition. When the amendment to repeal it passed through Congress, our state became the first to ratify it.