Your Name Due Date Prohibition Was Not a Great Success Introduction Today alcohol is as common to see sold and consumed as any other beverage. There are alcoholic beverage in all sizes, varieties, strengths, and price ranges; and, of course, buying it and drinking is completely legal, as long as you are over a certain age…
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For this reason, all alcohol was banned indefinitely. From 1920 to 1933 the era called Prohibition did not allow for the drinking, manufacturing, or sale of alcoholic beverages. Despite all of the “good” intentions that bred Prohibition it was, ultimately, economically unsound and led to side-effects that were ineffective at solving the problems that they hoped to resolve. Background In order to understand the era of Prohibition better it is necessary to be more familiar with what led to what, today, would seem like a rather drastic law. The Temperance movement was, essentially, a philosophical belief with deep roots in religion. The ideals of the movement, including their dislike of alcohol consumption, goes back as far as the mid 1800s; over the years the movement gained a following.(Miron, and Zwiebel 2) The Temperance movement is historically linked to the suffrage movement. Women of the time had few worthwhile rights, their husbands could freely go to the bars and drink and then go home and “beat” their families. For this reason, the temperance movement was primarily supported by women, who were finally standing up for themselves, saw the consumption of alcohol with adding to the mistreatment of women and the breakdown of family morality. Also, Wayne Bidwell Wheeler has been called a genius behind much of the prohibition movement. He contributed to the founding of the Anti-Saloon League in 1893. His strategy was to take the movement on the road and go state by state, spreading the principles behind the Temperance movement. Eventually he and the movement had enough support among voters that he was able to sway the vote in the 1916 election. While the supporters were celebrating their success, bar owners and breweries began shutting their doors and selling their alcohol inventories. In 1920, the 18th Amendment went into effect. The amendment banned all intoxicating beverages.(Okrent 2) In July of that same year the United States became a “dry” country, at least, legally it did. The Volstead Act, passed, as well, which defined that the ban would apply to any beverage with more than 0.5% alcohol level. Discussion Prohibition had begun. This period of time will be a rather interesting point in history. Although, alcohol consumption did lower at the beginning of the ban, however, shortly after the consumption of alcohol increased to higher than it had ever been before. This was partly because, although, alcohol was illegal there were still a demand for alcohol. Illegal bars, and “speakeasies” began to opening in secret all over the country; relying on illegal and bootlegged liquors to fill their stock. By 1925, there were 100,000 illegal establishments in New York City alone. These were the means by which, Al Capone, and other profiteers like him, who made a fortune off the illegality of alcohol in the United States.(Sandbrook 1) However, over the years the America citizen’s perceptions of alcohol began to change. The perfectly ordered society that the Temperance movement had promised has never arrived. Also, The Great Depression saw a change in the priorities of the American people. By 1932 many leaders were comfortable with the legalizing, production, and selling of beer. They, actually, believed that it would ease the mental stresses and suffering of the people during such a harsh economic time. November 16, 1932 the Twenty-first Amendment was
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Truman, then aged 34, stated that he, himself, wanted to get in on the ground floor of the bootlegging movement (Okrent, 2010, p. 100). This was because these two men knew the reality of the situation – that people might vote for the 18th Amendment, which was a constitutional amendment that banned the sale of alcohol, but these same people will also keep drinking.
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