Winston Churchill is most known for having guided the United Kingdom through World War II. One aspect of his legacy that may not be as well known is that he visited the United States during the Prohibition era. Churchill was in his "Wilderness Years" in December 1931, still serving in parliament but no longer holding public office. He embarked on a lecture tour of the United States following the significant losses he suffered during the Great Depression. He was going to see businessman Bernard Baruch, a friend who had been a political consultant in the First World War, while he was in New York.
In a hurry, Churchill called a cab. He was struck by a car while crossing Fifth Avenue, suffering from bruises all over his body, a broken nose, two cracked ribs, and a head wound. Following hospitalisation and recuperation in New York, Churchill and his family headed to the Bahamas for a period of relaxation. He was able to postpone a number of his speaking engagements due to his financial concerns. Otto Pickhardt, the admitting doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital, where he was treated, helped him out with a single prescription for alcohol because he was still in pain from the accident.
Pickhardt wrote, "This is to certify that the Hon. Winston S. Churchill's post-accident convalescence necessitates the use of alcoholic spirits, especially at meal times." "Although the amount is naturally infinite, 250 cubic centimetres would be the minimum requirement." A pencil note says, "Keep on hand," indicating that it will probably circumvent the limitations quickly.
While prescriptions for alcohol were not uncommon during Prohibition, this specific prescription has become part of history. Before and during this period, alcohol was frequently prescribed by doctors, and pharmacies sold it. Throughout the 1920s, doctors wrote an estimated 11 million prescriptions annually; in fact, many bootleggers purchased prescription forms directly from doctors.
When the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1933, Prohibition was abolished. As a result, it was the first occasion in American history that a constitutional amendment was passed to remove another. Churchill quickly recognised the threat posed by Hitler's government and was instrumental in the Allies' victory in World War II after taking office as prime minister in 1940.