In America, the 1920's were considered to be a 'roaring' time for all Americans. However, it seems to be that this 'roar' was an illusion for some Americans. This time was known as Americas 'age of excess'. In 1921, the gross national product was $74 billion, by 1229, it was $104.4 billion, but how much of this was affecting all Americans. Within this essay, I will be looking at different actions, which affected different people in different ways. For example: while the rich got richer, the poor made very little headway, with many families becoming poorer in the 1920's. By the end of the 1920's the number of people living below the poverty line (those who do not earn enough to buy food, clothing and basic shelter) had increased to an estimated 42 percent of the American population.
Many people through out America thought alcohol was harmful and dangerous and welcomed the introduction of prohibition. In 1919, after the First World War, they got what they wanted. Congress (the American parliament) passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. The 18th Amendment stated...
"...after one year the manufacture, sale of, transporting of
intoxicating liquors for beverage purpose, the importing and
exporting of such liquors is hereby prohibited."
The Volstead Act, which was passed the same year, gave the federal governments the power to enforce prohibition, and then backed the 18th Amendment and from the 16th January 1920, the USA went "Dry". The people who opposed alcohol argued that it caused social problems such as violence, crime, poverty and sexual promiscuity. They believed that when it was banned, then America would be a better, healthier and a more moral place to live. There were many organisations, which led campaigns against alcohol. They included The Anti-Saloon League of America and The Women's Christian Temperance Union. Therefore, with the introduction of prohibition they had got their way. In some individual states, prohibition laws were already being enforced. There were thirteen totally "Dry" states by 1919, and many other states had introduced some kind of control on the sale and manufacture of alcohol. After the First World War, because many of America's brewers were of German descent there was a lot of anti-German feeling and campaigners were able to argue that it would be patriotic to close the brewers down. Therefore, a decline in the amount of alcohol being produced appeared. Prohibition wasn't something that happened overnight, there had been a gradually build up to it. Even though prohibition seemed like a good idea in theory, it had almost the exact opposite effect from what it intended. Instead of reducing the crime rate, it managed to increase it, and even more people were drinking alcohol. Prohibition forced the general public to act illegally to get the much-wanted alcohol. This illegal alcohol was expensive, the rich were able to have it delivered to there homes, but most people by the end of the 1920's were making alcohol at home in illegal stills and was know as 'moonshine'. The homemade alcohol was often dangerous and could cause blindness, serious illness or even death. Some alcohol was still being produced legally for industrial processes (within hospitals etc), and even though the government added poison deliberately to this alcohol, much of it went missing. The stolen alcohol was resold for drinking purposes, and as a result, the rate of alcohol poisoning rose from 98 in 1920 to 760 in 1926.
Smugglers or 'Bootleggers' as they were often known, brought illegal alcohol supplies into cities. They often smuggled rum from the West Indies and whiskey often crossed the river from Canada to Detroit. It soon became big business and a lot of money could be made from it bootleggers organised themselves into gangs to transport the alcohol and these gangs soon became rich and powerful. The profits were so great that people would risk imprisonment. Now that there was alcohol entering the...
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