"I gave up my room on 34th St. because I had too
many young callers who were unwelcome. For this reason please don't tell them
where I am." - Horatio Alger Jr.
"From the time
kids are old enough to turn
on the television, public airwaves encourage teens watching television to
drink alcohol." - Gary Cifra
1784 Inquiry into
the Effects of Ardent Spirits on the Human Mind and Body catalogues the
consequence of chronic drunkenness.
Benjamin Rush argues this condition
is a disease physicians should be treating.
Rushs writing marks
the beginning of the American Temperance Movement.
describes one of the earliest pharmacological treatments for chronic
drunkenness - the use of an emetic to create a conditioned aversion to
1826 Lyman Beecher publishes six sermons
"No sin has fewer apologies than intemperance." - Lyman
Lyman Beecher, father of 13 children, wore out Roxana, Harriet
1857 Home for the Fallen is
opened in Boston marking the foundation of the 19th century inebriate
1864 New York State Inebriate Asylum
begins admitting patients.
Institute, known for its Keeley Cure or Gold Cure, is a
commercial medical operation that offered treatment to alcoholics.
1898 Prince Edward Island bans the importation of
1906 "Denaturing" process is required
for manufacturers that want to avoid taxes levied on potable spirits.
1914 War Measures Act limits the freedom
1915 Saskatchewan bans the
importation of alcohol.
1916 Alberta, Manitoba
and Ontario ban the importation of alcohol.
British Columbia and New Brunswick ban the importation of alcohol.
April 1, 1918 Any alcohol of more than 2.5 per cent is banned
from importation into Canada.
In addition, there was no
inter-provincial trade of alcohol.
The ban, lasting two years, was the
first and last time national prohibition would be instituted in
Sam Bronfman, with his brothers Abe, Harry and Alan ('Bronfman'
is liquor-man in Yiddish) have a modest hotel and prostitution chain.
Bronfmans immediately enter the pharmacy business, selling via mail order,
whiskey, labeling on bottles such as "Rock-A-Bye Cough Cure" and
"Dandy BracerLiver and Kidney Cure."
tonics" contained sugar, molasses, bluestone(?), 36 percent alcohol, and
October 28, 1919 Congress passed the
Sam and Harry opened export houses along the
Saskatchewan-North Dakota border.
They reduced 65-over proof white
alcohol, mixing it with water, a little real whiskey and a touch of burnt
A shot of sulfuric acid simulated the aging process.
charged $24 per barrel - it sold for up to $140.
"Sam and his brothers
cut distribution deals with a fine cast of businessmen such as Arnold
Rothstein, Meyer Lansky, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, and Arthur
Dutch Schultz, Flegenheimer.
In Detroit, the "little
Jewish Navy" under Morris Dalit ferried the Bronfman liquor into the US.
In Chicago, James "Big Jim" Colosimo annoyed Sam Bronfman by
showing no interest in buying his liquor, preferring to focus on his already
profitable businesses of drugs, prostitution, and loan-sharking.
Big Jim passed away suddenly. His nephew, John Torrio, took over, and wisely
chose to help Bronfman usher his liquor into Chicago.
Torrios lieutenant, a gent by the name of Al Capone,
led the operations of bringing Bronfmans liquor from Saskatchewan to
Minneapolis, then to Chicago, using cars, trucks and the Soo line.
Another gent by the name of Benjamin "Bugs" Siegel and
Meyer Lansky were in charge of protecting Bronfman liquor shipments
across the border against hijackers.
To meet the growing demand, Sam
bought up farmland along the border and built an underground pipeline to pump
his liquor nicknamed, "Seagram Chickencock," a mixture of pure
alcohol, sulfuric acid, caramel, water and aged rye whiskey into the
USA. Between 1920 and 1930, 34,000 Americans died from alcohol poisoning." -
Department estimates 60 million gallons of industrial ethanol are being
"The Prohibition Era in the United States is often
used as an example of how banning recreational substances not only increases
their popularity but also causes a boom in criminal activity. Indeed, it was
Prohibition that greatly increased the strength of the American Mafia, as the
top crime lords of the day grew rich through the clandestine trade and sale of
alcohol in addition to gambling and other activities." - Whitney Webb
Hidden in Plain Sight
Coolidge turns to chemistry as an enforcement tool.
denaturing formulas exist.
[dee-ney-cher] verb (used with object), de·na·tured,
1. to deprive (something) of its
natural character, properties, etc.
2. to render (any of various
alcohols) unfit for drinking by adding an unwholesome substance that does not
alter usefulness for other purposes.
3. Biochemistry . to treat (a
protein or the like) by chemical or physical means so as to alter its original
4. to make (fissionable material) unsuitable for use in an
atomic weapon by mixing it with unfissionable material.
Most simply add
methyl alcohol into the mix.
that were less lethal, designed to make the alcohol taste so awful that it
To sell the stolen industrial alcohol, the liquor
syndicates employed alchemists to "renature" the
products, returning them to a drinkable state.
alcohol becomes the primary source of liquor.
officials demand 10%
methanol be added to all ethanol
Christmas Eve 1926
Streets aglitter with snow and
lights a man afraid of Santa Claus
stumbles into the emergency room at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. He is
flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he tells the nurses, is chasing him
with a baseball bat.
- a paroxysm of death -
tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill from
methanol poisoning - eight
Within the next two days, another 23 people died.
York City, 1,200 are sickened by
methanol toxicity regularly during
The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made
The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came
tainted with methanol.
This outbreak was bizarrely
The deaths came courtesy of the
government knows it is not stopping drinking by putting poison in alcohol." -
New York City medical examiner Charles Norris
1927 Deaths in New York City climb to 700.
time denaturing formulas included notable poisons -
kerosene and brucine (a plant
alkaloid closely related to strychnine),
zinc, mercury salts,
government would engage in such business. It is only in the curious fanaticism
of Prohibition that any
means, however barbarous, are considered justified." - Chicago Tribune
"Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety first for souses?" -
1928 "Practically all the liquor that
is sold in New York today is toxic!" - Charles Norris
assigns his toxicologist, Alexander Gettler, to
whiskey for poisons and publicized every death by alcohol
Charles Norris points out that most of those sickened and
dying are those "who cannot afford expensive protection and deal in low grade
Anti-Prohibition legislation pushes for a halt in the use of
possessing the instincts of a wild beast would desire to kill or make blind the
man who takes a drink of liquor, even if he purchased it from one violating the
Prohibition statutes." - Sen. James Reed of Missouri
1933 End of Prohibition: Estimates of at least 10,000 people
"Our national experiment in
extermination." - Charles
Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the
Denaturing program ends only once the 18th Amendment is repealed
in December 1933.
1935 Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of John
F. Kennedy, has multiplied his fortune 25x from 4 million dollars to over 100
million dollars smuggling scotch whiskey during
1970s DEA sprays cannabis fields in
Mexico with Paraquat, a herbicide, primarily intended to destroy
Government officials insist awareness of the toxin will deter
A half century later they echo the official mantra of the 1920s - if
some citizens ended up poisoned, well, they'd brought it upon
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