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Whiskey Medicine Bottle

Whiskey Medicine Bottle, c. 1909, R.M. Rose Co., Chattanooga, Tennessee and Jacksonville, Florida, Transfer from University of Tennessee, Barbara Blount Hall, 1977.9.95.

By 1851, the first statewide laws prohibiting non-medical use of alcohol sales were passed. Distilleries survived by applying for medicinal permits to distribute their alcohol.

While whiskey was used by doctors to treat conditions as varied as swollen joints and whooping cough, distilleries and drinkers took advantage of the “medicinal” loophole to sell and purchase alcohol for recreational drinking. On December 5, 1933, following the signature of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the United States ended its 13-year experiment with the increasingly unpopular nationwide prohibition of alcohol.