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Issue #10

Was prohibition a failure?
In 1919, the Volstead Act outlawed alcoholic beverages with an alcoholic content over 0.5 percent. This topic is debated in the book, Taking Sides; there are two opposing sides to the question, “was prohibition a failure?” David E. Kyvig argues that the Volstead act did not specifically prohibit the use or consumption of alcohol beverages and that liquor was still being provided by gangland bootleggers to provide alcohol to the demands of the consumers. Regardless of the efforts to enforce the law the federal government failed to create an acceptable institutional network that insured the obedience of the people. Even though the consumption of alcohol did drop significantly during the 1920s, the legislation failed to eliminate drinking. On the other hand, J. C. Burnham argues that the enforcement of the prohibition laws were effective in certain areas. The enactment of the prohibition laws led to several positive social significances. For example, during the 1920s, there were fewer people arrested for public drunkenness and fewer people being treated for alcohol related diseases. He concludes that the prohibition was more of a success than a failure. Prohibition led to the first and the only time an Amendment of United States Constitution was repealed more than once. Personally, I think that the Volstead Act of 1919 was a failure and the prohibition laws gave rise to speakeasies and organized crime.

David E. Kyvig states that the prohibition was a failure. When the Volstead Act was passed not every American felt obligated to stop drinking alcohol. The consumers were being supplied at first in small amounts but as time progressed they were being supplied in excess amounts of alcoholic beverages. The Volstead Act banned manufacturing of “intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes” but it did not state that they could not transport, sale, import, or export intoxicating liquors, thus making it legal to purchase or use and...