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Thread: The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition

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    The US Government Poisoned Alcohol During Prohibition

    "Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people....

    "Rigorous enforcement had managed to slow the smuggling of alcohol from Canada and other countries. But crime syndicates responded by stealing massive quantities of industrial alcohol—used in paints and solvents, fuels and medical supplies—and redistilling it to make it potable[drinkable]....

    "By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly."
    The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition. - By Deborah Blum - Slate Magazine

    Isn't this ironic? Prohibition was intended to protect society from the harmfulness of alcohol but the government made alcohol even more harmful.
    "Indeed, not a word in the constitutional text even arguably supports the Court’s overwrought and novel description of the Second Amendment as 'elevat[ing] above all other interests' 'the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.' Ante,at 63."
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galileo View Post
    Isn't this ironic? The government tried to protect society from the harmfulness of alcohol but ended up deliberately making alcohol even more harmful.
    Another way to look at it is that the government tried to protect stores of industrial ethanol that were targeted by organized crime as an easy score and used to turn a quick profit. The alcohol was never intended to be consumed in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galileo View Post
    "Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people....

    "Rigorous enforcement had managed to slow the smuggling of alcohol from Canada and other countries. But crime syndicates responded by stealing massive quantities of industrial alcohol—used in paints and solvents, fuels and medical supplies—and redistilling it to make it potable[drinkable]....

    "By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly."
    The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition. - By Deborah Blum - Slate Magazine

    Isn't this ironic? Prohibition was intended to protect society from the harmfulness of alcohol but the government made alcohol even more harmful.
    That is fascinating. I had no idea. Thanks!
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    where all are but Coincidence Theorists are welcome.

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    Unhappy Thanks for the list. Good points to think about.

    Thanks for the list. Good points to think about.

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galileo View Post
    "Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people....

    "Rigorous enforcement had managed to slow the smuggling of alcohol from Canada and other countries. But crime syndicates responded by stealing massive quantities of industrial alcohol—used in paints and solvents, fuels and medical supplies—and redistilling it to make it potable[drinkable]....

    "By mid-1927, the new denaturing formulas included some notable poisons—kerosene and brucine (a plant alkaloid closely related to strychnine), gasoline, benzene, cadmium, iodine, zinc, mercury salts, nicotine, ether, formaldehyde, chloroform, camphor, carbolic acid, quinine, and acetone. The Treasury Department also demanded more methyl alcohol be added—up to 10 percent of total product. It was the last that proved most deadly."
    The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition. - By Deborah Blum - Slate Magazine

    Isn't this ironic? Prohibition was intended to protect society from the harmfulness of alcohol but the government made alcohol even more harmful.

    I think it just shows how far a government will go when it's trying to protect an agenda. Prohibition however wasn't aimed at drinking: people who had it their private home could drink all they wanted and the government suggested prior to the insitution of prohibition, that they stock up on available supplies; which people did. I think that this move was really aimed at the bootlegging market designed to put a scare into people who bought form it. It didn't work of course.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jet57 View Post
    I think it just shows how far a government will go when it's trying to protect an agenda. Prohibition however wasn't aimed at drinking: people who had it their private home could drink all they wanted and the government suggested prior to the insitution of prohibition, that they stock up on available supplies; which people did. I think that this move was really aimed at the bootlegging market designed to put a scare into people who bought form it. It didn't work of course.
    Prohibition was a nativist attempt to control the "others" who were coming to the USA and for whom the consumption of alcohol was part of the culture.

    It was also a spasm of rural America against the "evil" cities.

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