During Prohibition Government Poisoned Alcohol Killed as Many as 10,000 Americans

Isaac Davis, Staff Writer
Waking Times 

The U.S. government has a long and despicable history of experimentation on the public, often causing extreme harm and even the deaths of unsuspecting citizens. Even as recently as this year it was revealed that the government is still conducting classified experiments on people. It has been proven time and again that the feds can be ruthless out outright evil in the pursuit of their goals.

  • Rewind now to the prohibition era of the early 20th century when the feds waged a pitiless battle against the sale, transport and consumption of alcohol from 1920-1933. During this time, alcohol was removed from store shelves and it was rather common for individuals who wanted to drink to refine industrial alcohol, which was still legal for use in manufacturing and the development of industrial and cleaning products.

    “The U.S. government took drastic steps to keep people from drinking during Prohibition, the 13-year period when it was illegal to buy, sell, manufacture, or distribute alcohol in the U.S. More enforcement was the government’s answer to smuggled booze and moonshine. But for one source of illegal booze, the government reverted to poison: redistilled industrial-grade alcohol. That’s liquor that was initially produced for things like cleaning supplies and paint, which then has unpleasant chemicals added so that people wont drink it. The government started requiring this “denaturing” process — adding toxic or foul-tasting substances — back in 1906 for manufacturers who wanted to avoid taxes on potable spirits…” [Source]

    Once the government realized that industrial alcohol was being repurposed for human consumption during prohibition, they decided to infuse it with more toxic chemicals, hoping to frighten people away from taking this risk.

    “…in 1926, the Calvin Coolidge Administration decided to make it more toxic in the hopes that this would deter people from drinking the stuff. The government ordered companies to add even more additives to industrial alcohol, making it actually lethal. “The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking.” [Source]

    Regarding the chemicals used, the list is long and quite frightening indeed, including the following:

    Industrial alcohol itself became a deadline cocktail of chemicals. A short list of the additives that were listed in studies done by the New York City medical examiner in 1928 included the following:


    Kerosene: A fuel made of distilled petroleum used today in jet engines, lamps, and cleaning solvent.

    Brucine: A bitter and extremely poisonous alkaloid found in the seeds of the nux vomica plant that is used as an additive in lubricants and local anesthetics.

    Gasoline: Refined petroleum used for internal combustion engines.

    Benzene: A liquid from coal tar and petroleum that used to be in solvents, but is no longer used because it’s extremely carcinogenic.

    Cadmium: A metal that resembles tin that’s used in plating, metal alloys, batteries, and pigments.

    Zinc: A metal found in brass and used to galvanize iron and steel to protect against corrosion.

    Mercury salts: A chemical compound of mercury and chlorine.

    Nicotine: The chief active ingredient of tobacco that is also used in insecticides.

    Ether: A highly flammable liquid used as an anesthetic and as a solvent.

    Formaldehyde: A compound made from oxidized methyl alcohol that’s used as a disinfectant and preservative in resins and plastics.

    Chloroform: A liquid used as a solvent that used to also be used as a general anesthetic.

    Camphor: A crystalline compound used in insect repellent, as well as plastic and explosive production.

    Carbolic acid: Also known as phenol, carbolic acid is a highly poisonous compound in antimicrobial and anesthetic solutions.

    Quinine: A bitter alkaloid used to treat forms of malaria.

    Acetone: A liquid made from oxidized isopropanol used as a solvent.

    While the process of intentionally poisoning industrial alcohol in order to dissuade people from using it as a source of bootleg alcohol was intended to keep people from drinking industrial alcohol, the real effects were immediate and quite different. According to Time Magazine:

    “It wasn’t just the violent Prohibition-era gang wars that were dangerous to Americans drinking homemade moonshine and bathtub gin. According to the Dec. 26, 1922 edition of the New York Times, five people were killed in the city on Christmas Day from drinking “poisoned rum.” That was only the beginning. By 1926, according to Prohibition, by Edward Behr, 750 New Yorkers perished from such poisoning and hundreds of thousands more suffered irreversible injuries including blindness and paralysis. On New Year’s Day 1927, 41 people died at New York’s Bellevue Hospital from alcohol-related poisonings. Oftentimes, they were drinking industrial methanol, otherwise known as wood alcohol, which was a legal but extremely dangerous poison. One government report said that of 480,000 gallons of liquor confiscated in New York in 1927, nearly all contained poisons.”

    By some estimates, up to 10,000 died during prohibition years as a result of drinking poisoned alcohol, and this bit of dark history is noted in the book, The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age, by Deborah Blum.

    Read more articles from Isaac Davis.

  • About the Author

    Isaac Davis is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and OffgridOutpost.com Survival Tips blog. He is an outspoken advocate of liberty and of a voluntary society. He is an avid reader of history and passionate about becoming self-sufficient to break free of the control matrix. Follow him on Facebook, here.

    This article (During Prohibition Government Poisoned Alcohol Killed as Many as 10,000 Americans) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Isaac Davis and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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