Dry Manhattan gives an overview of Prohibition’s rise and fall in New York, predominately in the City. The relationship of this reform to the broader spirit of the Progressive Generation can be argued in two ways. Resistance to prohibition can be considered progressive behavior or it was a signal that the progressive spirit had died. In making this decision it is important to recall what the Progressives goals were. They wanted to make sense of change in a way that best advanced American ideals and resulted in a powerful, modern nation. Progressives believed in the power of government to help achieve those goals and expertise to improve the quality of life and increase opportunities for all. In reviewing the the progressive elements listed above I believe that the opposition to Prohibition shown in the “Nobel Experiment” was a symbol of the decline of Progressivism. The expectations of Progressives and what actually occurred represented the failure of the reform.
The Progressive era was a time in which bettering one’s self, community and country were the foundation of continuing prosperity. This movement was concerned with the moral fabric of society; it was supported primarily by the middle classes. Prohibition provided a response to the vast changes brought by modernization, such as the growth of large corporations and railroads, and fears of corruption in American politics. Anderson stated that it would be an era of clean thinking and clean living” (Lerner, 40). His crusade was aimed at controlling the "interests" and their connections with bribe-able and corrupt politicians in city, state, and national governments. But as liberalized ideas about drinking, sex, and leisure bred in Middle America, Anderson soon found that concept of Prohibition, thought to foster true American values, was not going to be accepted without opposition.
The progressive spirit was evident in government reform and the expansion of its role. Believing in this Anderson relied on...
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