Bootlegging is an American term meaning “hiding a bottle in one’s boot” and refers to a smuggling of alcohol (beer, rum, wine and spirits). Its origin dates back to the Civil War, but the term was also used for smuggling during the period of Prohibition, which was introduced to the United States and Canada between 1917 and 1935. The bottles could then have a curved shape to better fit in the boots.
Those college and university students who have chosen bootlegging as a topic for their research papers, have to know that the Prohibition was the heyday of illegal distillers, small border smugglers, dealers, licensed premises often illegal alcohol called the speakeasies, the captains of vessels were involved in the transport of most banned liquids, the Mafia gangs that controlled all these networks from New York to Chicago, pocketed large profits at the expense of often bloody settling of accounts.
During the fifteen years, trafficking import of alcohol were marked by some highlights:
Importing rum from British Guiana (from Georgetown) including Demerara (Black Diamond) aboard schooners which anchored three miles offshore, the American territorial waters border. The goods were then transhipped (often at night) aboard fast boats (the rum runners, the banana boats or the famous Canadian cutter under Nellie Banks sails) charged to unload as soon as possible, in secret places on the coast, the commodity expected by bootleggers.
During the golden age Islands Saint Pierre and Miquelon became trafficking hub. Spirits were transported by cargo ships full from France, and they were unloaded, repackaged and reported for duty (the offshore destination) due to paltry sea rights. Small units were loading the boxes in ensured the transportation to rum runners (see above). The most notable importers were St. Pierrais Morazé and R. Henry the Villefromoy who communicated with their customers using coded telegrams.
After the prohibition in the United States, the word “bootlegging” implies all kinds of contraband goods, mostly surrogate beverages or used cars.
Although there is no more prohibition in the United States, bootlegging is still part of the landscape in Acadia. Today, the term refers to someone who sells alcohol at his home without a license. Several of Acadian music groups, including Cayouche (The Boutlegger, The Frigidaire my Chum , Drunk Driving), 1755 (The World That We Knows) and Radio Radio (Rum Runner) sing about it.
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