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How Churchill Got Prescribed Alcohol During Prohibition

Alcohol forbidden in the United States? Very little for Winston Churchill! Prohibition will not take away this pleasure, even if it means cheating a little.

Winston Churchill manages to get prescribed alcohol during Prohibition

Did you know that alcohol was banned in the United States for several years? This period, the prohibition, was not at a good news for Winston Churchill who imagined a cheeky stratagem to have access to it legally.


Knowing how to take advantage of opportunities


Let's go back to 1919 when prohibition was passed for all of the United States. The manufacture, transport and sale of alcoholic beverages is therefore prohibited throughout the country. For what ? Religious movements want to reduce the problems of alcoholism as well as the vices they cause (violence, corruption and all the rest). Problem: it is a total failure, the ban only contributes to favor the profusion of clandestine networks (hello mafias) without solving alcoholism. It was thus lifted in 1933.



Two years before its end, an Englishman, then on a lecture cycle in the country, looks the wrong way at the street, crosses and is hit by a car. Although his life was not in danger, Winston Churchill was still seriously injured: gash in the head, broken nose, broken ribs, violent shock and pleurisy (an inflammation of the pleura, the membrane covering the lungs). He was transported to the emergency room where he was operated on by Dr. Otto Pickhardt.


But at this moment habit played me a deadly trick. I no sooner got out of the cab somewhere about the middle of the road and told the driver to wait than I instinctively turned my eyes to the left. About 200 yards away were the yellow headlights of an approaching car – My New-York Misadventure, The Daily Mail


After recovering in the Bahamas, he wants to resume his speaking tour. His doctor advised him against it given his condition, but Churchill offered to prescribe an unorthodox remedy: alcohol. Because, during prohibition, only doctors were authorized to obtain it for therapeutic purposes. Dr. Pickhardt accepts and writes the prescription below, dated January 26, 1932.


Winston Churchill's alcohol prescription in 1932

It reads: “This certifies that after his accident, the convalescence of the Honorable Winston S. Churchill requires that he consume alcoholic beverages in particular at mealtimes. The quantity is of course indefinite but the minimum would be 250 cubic centimeters. Dr. Otto Pickhardt”. This is how the future Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was one of the few to consume alcohol during prohibition in complete legality!


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