December 18th: The Eighteenth Amendment Is Proposed by Congress, the Beginning of Operation Linebacker II and Other Events of the Date
A number of important events have taken place on December 18th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1917 – The Eighteenth Amendment is proposed by Congress
One of the most controversial amendments to the U.S. Constitution ever passed and a true image of the statement that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, the Eighteenth Amendment marked the beginning of the era of Prohibition, which led to the cultural phenomenon of bootlegging and the dramatic growth of gang activities.
The Eighteenth Amendment was the product of decades of efforts by the temperance movement - the society that believed that if America reduced the consumption of alcohol, it’d easily overcome most of the problems the country had with crime and related problems. The temperance movement also believed that the ban on the sale of alcohol would ameliorate poverty and other societal issues. Yet, probably, these guys just lived in their own world and didn’t know that one would always find the way to get drunk, legal or not (at least, in case of America).
Interesting, the Eighteenth Amendment declared the production, transport, and sale of intoxicating liquors illegal, though it did not outlaw the actual consumption of alcohol. However, shortly after the amendment was ratified, Congress passed the Volstead Act to provide for the federal enforcement of Prohibition. The Volstead Act in its turn declared that liquor, wine, and beer, all qualified as intoxicating liquors and were therefore prohibited. Under the terms of the Eighteenth Amendment, Prohibition began on January 17, 1920, one year after the amendment was ratified. The Roaring 20’s started simultaneously with the Era of Prohibition, showing how wrong the members of the temperance movement were.
1932 – The first playoff game ever played in the NFL
Quite unusual for our professional sports perception, but it’s a fact that before 1932 there were no playoffs at all in the National Football League: the rules of the game had yet to be established which now make this league so popular among Americans.
So, since the NFL's first season in 1920, the league title had been awarded to the team with the best regular season record based on winning percentage (with ties excluded). Four of the first six championships were disputed, only in 1921 did two teams ever finish tied atop the standings: the two teams disputing the title had played each other, splitting a two-game series, but league officials used a tiebreaker to controversially give the Chicago Bears (then known as the Staleys) the title over the Buffalo All-Americans. However, back in 1932 both the Portsmouth Spartans and Chicago Bears ended the regular season with identical results: 6-1 record and 0.857 winning ratio. Thus, the extra game was needed to determine the champion.
The game itself ended with the victory of the Bears, 9-0 and was attended by 11198 people, which was a very large audience for that era. When it became clear to the organizers of the league that the play-off game was popular, they decided to change the rules, and starting from the next season the champion of the NFL was to be determined in the final game between the winners of two divisions (since by that time the league had expanded to 10 teams and 2 divisions).
1972 - Vietnam War: The Beginning of Operation Linebacker II
By the end of 1972 it had become clear that the U.S. would never beat the Vietcong and would be stuck in Vietnam for years, continuing to lose the lives of their soldiers and killing civilians. This was the kind of war America couldn’t win, even after bombing the country back into the Stone Age. Yet, trying to show its strength to a society that didn’t support the war, the war hawks in Washington organized another operation, which can only be called a war crime.
Operation Linebacker II was a US Seventh Air Force and US Navy Task Force 77 aerial bombing campaign, conducted against targets in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) during the final period of US involvement in the Vietnam War and was conducted for 11 days: from December 18 till December 29, 1972. Sometimes this operation is also being referred to as “December Raids" and "The Christmas Bombings." Unlike Operation Rolling Thunder and Operation Linebacker interdiction operations, Linebacker II was to be a "maximum effort" bombing campaign to "destroy major target complexes in the Hanoi and Haiphong areas, which could only be accomplished by B-52s."
Despite much of American society protesting against it and wanting peace both for the U.S. and for Vietnam, Operation Linebacker II was characterized by the largest heavy bomber strikes launched by the US Air Force since the end of World War II. A total 15,237 tons of ordnance was dropped on 18 industrial and 14 military targets (including eight SAM sites) while fighter-bombers added another 5,000 tons of bombs to the tally. As a result at least 1624 Vietnamese civilians were killed.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on December 18th, at least in our view.