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Did Prohibition Succeed - Research Paper Example

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The Failure of Prohibition (And One Success) Prohibition was ratified on January 17, 1919, and it proved to be a failure right from the start. For instance, HL Mencken announced that he was selling his Studebaker and investing the proceeds in alcohol, and Harry S…
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Did Prohibition Succeed

Download file to see previous pages... This was shown already in the states that were already dry – some of the states issued permits for people to bring alcohol from one state to another, and there were 34,000 of these permits issued in Washington state, a state where there was, at the time, only 44,000 registered voters. Before the ratification of the amendment, Michigan was a dry state, and Ohio was a wet one, and the highway between Michigan and Ohio was so convenient for the smugglers that the highway became known as the “Avenue de Booze” (Okrent, 2010, p. 102). This meant that there would be an underground avenue for people getting booze, long after Prohibition was enacted, and this is exactly what happened. Part of the problem is that, as Sinclair Lewis brilliantly noted, during this time there was an overall change in the American landscape. The people were coming from more of a prairie lifestyle into one that was becoming more and more industrialized, and, with this came both disillusionment and rebellion (Lewis, 1922, p. 56). This was the overall wrong time to try to outlaw booze. The generation had just came from war, or at least seen it or known people who have been in it, and they were coming into a period of increasing change. Alcohol becoming forbidden would be a way to rebel, if the people of the twenties engaged in it, while, at the same time, alcohol could be seen as a way to soothe the nerves of the people who are undergoing this powerful change. So, in this way, Prohibition could not have come at a worse time. In the years that followed the ratification and enaction of the 18th Amendment, there was considerable evidence that the Prohibition Amendment was nothing but a sham. For instance, in February of 1920, which was the year that the Prohibition Amendment actually took effect, Leo J. Grove seized three barrels of homemade wine from the basement of an Italian grocery store, and this was only one of many examples of people who still supplied alcohol to the masses (Okrent, 2010, p. 120). In that first year, there were 900,000 cases of liquor that came from Canada and made its way to the United States – and this was just in the first seven months of 1920, which was considered to be a “dry-but-wet year” (Okrent, 2010, p. 124). In New England, the alcohol came from ships that were anchored beyond the three mile limit, and these were ferried to shore. These were the more professional endeavors, but there were also countless moonshiners that would make the alcohol, some of them in their bathtubs, and would distribute them (Okrent, 2010, p. 125). Worse, Prohibition led to crime on a wide scale. The first alliances were between the gangsters, such as Capone, Torrio and Lansky, and these alliances were the first signs of a crime syndicate that had gone across the United States. Moreover, these mobsters had respectability. They took part in anti-Ku Klux Klan campaigns, and they were considered to be glamorous. Longy Zwillman was dating actress Jean Harlow, and there were many mobsters who owned popular nightclubs. Another gangster had an affair with actress Mae West. Al Capone was involved in charities for the poor (Okrent, 2010, p. 274). The reason why there was so much crime, and that these mobsters and others were seen as glamorous was because there was so much money in selling alcohol underground. There were some annual sales of $3.6 billion nationally by 1926 – ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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