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How Did Winston Churchill Avoid Alcohol Restrictions During Prohibition?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Winston Churchill famously told Parliament in 1940 that he had nothing to offer but "blood, toil, tears, and sweat," but had he been an American president, he might have tossed in alcohol, as well.

While visiting the United States for a lecture tour during the dry days of Prohibition, Churchill managed to acquire a doctor's note giving him the right to drink an unlimited amount of booze. Ostensibly, the liquor was meant to ease the pain of his injury from being struck by a car in December 1931 in New York City.

Churchill wasn't alone, of course, as it was widely known that alcohol could be obtained by anyone with a prescription for it. But Churchill was particularly imaginative in his determination to imbibe, having once gone to a speakeasy as a "social investigator" and claiming a religious right to drink while meeting with a Muslim king.

Whether Winston Churchill actually enjoyed alcohol as much as he seemed has been debated over the years, with some arguing that he used it more as a prop to bolster a particular image.

What else about Winston?

  • Winston Churchill became a war hero after escaping from his captors during the Boer War in southern Africa in 1899.

  • In 1953, Churchill became one of the few nonfiction writers to earn a Nobel Prize in Literature.

  • Churchill loved to paint, and by the time of his death in 1965 had crafted more than 550 works of art.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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