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This Day in Georgia History

May 19, 1933

Beer Sales Legalized in Atlanta

The Atlanta City Council voted to legalize the sale of beer not containing over 3.2 percent alcohol. Immediately, 49 applications for licenses were submitted and approved, adding $1125 to Atlanta’s Depression-depleted coffers by the end of the day. Governor Eugene Talmadge expressed displeasure with the council’s decision but said there was nothing he could or would do about it. When the governor’s opposition was mentioned by a councilman before the vote, he was loudly booed and jeered in council chambers. The legalization of 3.2 beer was possible because Congress had passed the Cullen-Harrison Act in late March 1933. The law, which became effective on April 7, amended the Volstead Act to allow the nationwide sale of beer and wine with an alcoholic content of 3.2 percent. Likewise, each state legislature was supposed to pass enabling legislation allowing the sale of 3.2 beer. However, the Georgia General Assembly did not act until 1935, so the city of Atlanta decided to go ahead and legalize the sale of 3.2 beer through city ordinance. The ordinance was adopted May 19, 1933. In anticipation of the ordinance, owners of 49 Atlanta bars and taverns had already purchased federal excise tax stamps, so once they received their city license patrons could celebrate the limited end of Prohibition.