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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pacific Coast offshore rum-runner Malahat
Pacific Coast offshore rum-runner Malahat

A rum row was a Prohibition-era term (1920–1933) referring to a line of ships loaded with liquor anchored beyond the maritime limit of the United States. These ships taunted the Eighteenth Amendment through this small margin of safety.[1] The liquor sold by the bootleggers in the area did not only include rum but all alcoholic beverages.[1]

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  • ✪ Rum Running | Land and Sea
  • ✪ Alcohol, Boat Chases, and Shootouts! by James Morrison.wmv
  • ✪ A Man Drank 3 Liters Rum Everyday Since Age 13. This is What Happened To His Liver.




The maritime limit was three miles prior to April 21, 1924, and 12 miles thereafter. These lines became established near major U.S. ports so that rum runners could load cargoes of alcoholic beverages from these freight ships and sneak them into port. The cargoes were sourced from the Caribbean and Canada, which repealed their respective prohibition policies at the moment the United States started its own.[1] The bulk of the ships flew the British flag but were actually registered in Canada and owned by Canadians who had ties with American syndicates.[2]

The cities with rum rows were often in Florida at first and the product was rum from the Caribbean. However, as the importation of whiskey from Canada increased, rum rows became established in locations along all the coastlines of the U.S. Notable rum-row locations included the New Jersey coast (by far the largest), San Francisco, Virginia, Galveston, and New Orleans.[3][4] Twenty American navy destroyers were turned over to the Coast Guard to fight rum runners.[5]

The lucrative but dangerous business was often punctuated by murder, hijackings and other violent crimes. There are accounts of a Greek merchant turned rum runner who was tied to an anchor and thrown overboard by his crew who wanted the rum for themselves.[citation needed] A woman named Gertrude Lythgoe also became known in the New York rum row. She was employed by the British firm Haig and MacTavish Scotch Whisky and notoriously sold her liquor at the rum row after she was expelled by male competitors from Nassau.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Burns, Eric (2004). The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. pp. 215. ISBN 1592132146.
  2. ^ Schneider, Stephen (2009-12-09). Iced: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9780470835005.
  3. ^ Coulombe (2005), pg. 219
  4. ^ Haley (2006), pg. 475
  5. ^ Austin C. Lescarboura. "The battle of rum row". Popular Mechanics Jun 1926. Retrieved April 12, 2010.
  6. ^ Lawson, Ellen NicKenzie (2013). Smugglers, Bootleggers, and Scofflaws: Prohibition and New York City. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. p. 14. ISBN 9781438448169.


This page was last edited on 19 December 2019, at 01:16
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