What Is A Bootlegger?

Today anything that is manufactured and sold as a knockoff or a counterfeit item, is considered a bootleg item. On this article, we will cover the origin of the word bootleg and the surprising history behind it.



When Prohibition went into effect in 1920, it spawned a lot of gangsters that made a lot of money bringing in illegal alcohol into the United States. And of course most folks referred to them as bootleggers. You might be surprised to find out that the word bootleggers had been around long before prohibition. In fact, over a 100 years. 

It all started back in 1802, when President Thomas Jefferson, and Congress decided that Indians could not handle alcohol and banned alcohol on any tribal lands,

including reservations to be set up in the future. The Indians back then could have never imagined how reservations would change in the future. The concept of bootlegging came about because the Indians were not going to be denied having alcohol. 

So they found a way to get it on the reservation by smuggling it in their boots. Those individuals brave enough to sneak whiskey onto the reservation would put it in their boots, and they were known as bootleggers. The name stuck and evolved to mean anyone who manufacturers or transports illegal alcohol.


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