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American Alcohol Prohibition - Thesis Example

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In the report “American Alcohol Prohibition” the author discusses the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution which prohibited Americans from manufacturing, selling, or transporting alcoholic beverages. This decision, also known as the Noble Experiment…
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Download file to see previous pages Crime, especially organized crime, was on the rise and many believed alcohol was at the root of many of these problems including the changing American family values. When Herbert Hoover introduced prohibition in 1919 he called it "the noble experiment", presenting it as a law that hoped to curb sin and poverty across America. In fact, the 18th Amendment was part of a wider reaction from white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPS) against social changes within the USA brought on by mass immigration and the growth in demand for African-American rights. Therefore despite claims of prohibition being a progressive reform, in fact, it symbolized a rejection of modernity. So, on January 17, 1920, the United States Government enacted the eighteenth amendment to the Constitution which “prohibited Americans from manufacturing, selling, or transporting alcoholic beverages.”1 This decision, also known as the Noble Experiment, would remain in effect just short of thirteen years regardless of intense opposition. The position of those in favor of this law was that it was the duty and responsibility of the government to protect all of its citizens. In spite of the controversial nature of this decision, this was not a new concept as Asbridge and Weerasinghe note that “Concerted national policy efforts around prohibition in the United States began in 1913 (facilitated by the Webb–Kenyon Act) followed, a few years later, with the enactment of the War Prohibition Act in 1918, banning the manufacture and sale of all beverages with more than 2.75% alcohol.”2 Various states had their own adoptions of state restrictions on alcohol particularly in areas where alcohol-related incidents were high. “For Chicago, alcohol’s link to organized crime was particularly troubling. Not until the election of Mayor William Dever in 1923, a man who believed firmly in the letter of the law and who enforced prohibition stalwartly, did a formal attack on bootlegging and organized crime emerge; however, this led to intense territorial wars between organized crime gangs, including the famous Chicago Beer Wars that resulted in dozens of homicides.”3 The hope was that limiting alcohol could limit the crime as well as growing immorality and concern of compromising ethical values of the American people. However, this act received huge opposition as it decreased income for many but also created losses in sales tax revenue. The demand for alcohol only led to the illegal sales of alcohol and bootleggers soon emerged creating additional problems while the sales of alcohol continued in spite of the legality. This example alone should have provided evidence that limiting alcohol on a national scale would not be any more successful. Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became "organized"; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point, and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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