These 4 Things Used to Be Illegal
Most of us like to think we live in a pretty modern society. We have tiny devices (smartphones) that allow us to communicate with other people across the globe, gaming consoles for our entertainment pleasure, and each year, we see advances in newer technologies like robotics and virtual reality.
It’s actually astonishing when you think about it. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century that air conditioning became common in American households. Carrier Corporation data published on Slate indicates that in 1965, just fifty short years ago, only around 10 percent of American households had air conditioning.
Today, with all of our modern luxuries, we’re quick to complain about a slow running computer, having to wait a day or two for a cable technician to fix our television, or a smartphone that’s not as cool as our friend’s phone is.
How modern is our society? If you would have asked people that same question in the late 1700s, during the Industrial Revolution, they may have thought their society was modern back then, never in their wildest dreams imagining what the future possibly held. We don’t know what the future holds either, so all we can do is compare today to the past.
In addition to all of our technological advances, quite a few other things have changed, too. Our legal system has, in many ways, adjusted to accommodate a more modern society, as well. Here are a few things that were once illegal, but are now readily accepted in our society.
1. Voting for non-white males
In the late 1700s only white male landowners had the right to vote — both women and blacks were denied this right. White males without land were denied voting rights until the mid-1800s.
Black men weren’t given the right to vote until a bit later — when the 15th Amendment was passed in 1869. Then finally, several years later, the 19th Amendment was passed on June 4, 1919, and ratified on August 18, 1920, which granted women voting rights.
In 1920, the 18th Amendment banned the manufacture, sale, and distribution of booze. The “Drys” (the popular nickname for the anti-alcohol groups) fought to ban alcohol for quite some time and finally, their efforts were rewarded. The banning of alcoholic beverages was short lived, however, as it turned out to be bad for the economy. People lost jobs, restaurants closed down, and the government (overall) lost money.
It was illegal to make, sell, and spread alcohol during prohibition, but it wasn’t illegal to drink it. So, people went out and found it wherever they could and according to History.com, an average of 1,000 Americans died each year from the effects of tainted liquor during Prohibition. After the country saw the increased crime and all of the other problems the 18th Amendment was causing, people grew tired of it. Finally, in 1933, the Amendment was appealed.
Today, people can practice whatever religion, hobbies, or beliefs they please as long as they don’t hurt others or violate any laws in the process. Some courts actually recognize witchcraft as a valid religion. According to About.com, “In the 1980s, the District Court of Virginia court recognized witchcraft as a valid and legitimate religion, in the case of Dettmer v Landon, and this was upheld later on by a Federal court, determining that people who practice witchcraft as a religion are entitled to the same Constitutional protections as those who follow other belief systems.”
But during the days of Salem Witch Trials, we all know things were much different. During that time period, Massachusetts was still a British colony so these witch laws were not actually American practices.
4. Business on Sunday
The “Blue Laws” were a set of old laws that prohibited certain business dealings on Sundays. Though most of these laws have been repealed, some states and localities still ban the sale of alcohol on Sundays. Therefore, traces of these Sunday laws are still around today.
Laws have changed quite a bit to reflect our modern society. This list could go on and on if we include all of the civil right’s laws, laws pertaining to religion, and tax laws. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much things have changed in just 100 or so years.
Just for fun, check out a few of these things that are still illegal today in some places.
- Bear wrestling matches are illegal in Alabama.
- In Florida, it was once made illegal to have sex with porcupines.
- Some states have laws that place a time limit on how long you can publicly display affection.
- In some places, you can’t wear slippers after 10 p.m.
- A Florida law says no unmarried women can parachute on Sundays.
- In Minnesota, it was made illegal for a man to have intercourse with a live fish.