The 18th Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol was adopted by both houses of Congress in December 1917 and ratified by the necessary two-thirds of the states on 16 January 1919. The amendment was implemented by the National Prohibition Act (known as the Volstead Act after Andrew Volstead, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee and a leading prohibitionist) in October 1919. Under the terms of the act, Prohibition began on 17 January 1920. The act defined "intoxicating liquor" as anything that contained one half of one percent alcohol by volume but allowed the sale of alcohol for medicinal, sacramental, or industrial purposes. The final push for imposing an unpopular, and ultimately socially disastrous, program on the American public came during the First World War, when 4.7 million Americans, almost all men, were under arms with over half of them deployed overseas or on the high seas.
The Ohio State University "Temperance & Prohibition" website takes the position the war did not help push Prohibition "over the top:"
It is a myth that the First World War somehow "caused" the United States to enact prohibition. The prohibition movement was already very powerful before the nation declared war in 1917--the dry forces had already elected two-thirds majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States Congress. When the elections of 1916 concluded, both wets and drys knew that the battle was nearly over. . . The war, however, provided powerful new emotional messages on behalf of prohibition.
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I find one flaw, though, in the thinking of the Ohio State group, however. Although the United States did not enter the war until 1917, it was fully engaged in the Great War from its outbreak in August 1914. The make-up and behavior of the combatants resonated through the nation first in what we now refer to as the national security sphere and then into domestic politics, where the drys were trying to finalize their long crusade and the wets were fighting a last-ditch defense. Looking back, it's clear the drys won this final battle, and their creative use of the war was a critical, if not the key, to their winning strategy.
The temperance folks were masters both at manipulating anxieties Americans had about getting involved in a foreign war and associating German brewery owners with Germany's heavy-handed military and that "Beast of Berlin," Kaiser Wilhelm II. Also, the war presented calls for managing resources, especially food. [See our article by Keith Muchowski on the crisis with grains HERE.] Wartime restrictions implemented in the Food and Fuel Control Act (August 1917) would condition the American public for a permanent cut-off of the supply of Demon Rum.
Through some incredibly skillful framing of the discussion, by the time the 18th Amendment had been proposed in Congress (December 1917) prohibition was labeled "100% Americanism" by its promoters. And a critical mass of the great American public bought it. The Great War amazingly gave the drys the opportunity to offer Prohibition as a matter of patriotism, sacrifice for nation, and a way to stand united against militarism, decadence, and moral corruption.
Sources: Wikipedia, HistoryExtra, the National World War One Museum