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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. 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. This 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. The cities 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. Twenty American navy destroyers were turned over to the Coast Guard to fight rum runners.
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