Baltimore Prohibition – Wet & Dry in the Free State
Michael T. Walsh


For a period of thirteen years (1920-1933) during the Roaring 1920s and Jazz Age, national Prohibition was the law of the land.

Though the 18th Amendment had its share of supporters and opponents, there was perhaps no region more opposed to Prohibition than Baltimore and Maryland.

The Free State was defiant in its protest from thoroughly wet Governor Albert Ritchie to esteemed Catholic Cardinal James Gibbons.

Maryland was the only state to not pass a baby Volstead enforcement act.

Speakeasies emerged at Frostburg’s Gunter Hotel and at Baltimore’s famed Belvedere Hotel, whose famous owls’ blinking eyes would notify its patrons if it was safe to indulge in bootleg liquor.

Rum-runners were frequent on the Chesapeake Bay as bootleggers populated the city streets.

Journalist H.L. Mencken, known as the “Sage of Baltimore,” drew national attention criticizing the new law.

Author Michael T. Walsh provides a fascinating journey into the history of Prohibition in the “Free State”, from its origins in the 19th century through its repeal in 1933.

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The Baltimore County Genealogical Society was founded in 1977 to help educate members in tracing their family ancestry, to collect and publish material related to genealogy, and to encourage the open exchange of genealogical ideas and experiences.

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