(A Turning Point in Chicago.)
“When I sell liquor, it’s called bootlegging; when my patrons sell it on Lakeshore Drive, it’s called hospitality.”-Al Capone. In this quote, we see Al Capone pointing out an interesting, but true flaw in the system. Back in prohibition it was cops, politicians, and judges who were trying to shut Capone down, that is in the public eye. When they were not seen, they also drank. So they became the problem they were trying to stop. On January 16th, 1919, the 18th amendment was ratified; it was intended to fix drinking related problems like crime, drunkenness, and other social complications. Instead it did the opposite, and new social ailments emerged like political corruption, children drinking in speakeasies, people’s loss of respect towards government, and Al Capone’s rise to power through his illicit business. Not only were citizens breaking the law of the 18th amendment, but the very people “trying” to shut down bootlegging were contributing to the problem. These police, politicians, and judges were giving money to Al Capone, and essentially fueling the crime, drunkenness, and other social complications the 18th amendment was supposed to stop. Not only that, but helping create new social problems like political corruption, children drinking in speakeasies, people’s loss of respect towards the government, and helping fund Capone’s rise to power.
The politics aspect of the issue was ready for prohibition, but the people were not. My first point is that the idea of prohibition had a lot of political support at the time. Woodrow Wilson was the president at the time of the 18th amendments ratification. At the time organizations had been pressuring local, and national governments to prohibit alcohol (Novick, Burns). To further illustrate, through all of this change, Americans were becoming more independent. For the government to tell the American people to NOT do something, especially with this new found purpose and independence was honestly ridiculous. Finally, the early 20th century was a time for the shaping and molding of America. America was undergoing a lot of changes, women suffrage industry growth, technological advancements, such as the Ford model-T, was all happening at once. To sum it up, the political support was there for prohibition, but not the peoples. The early 20th century was a time for America to change, mostly in positive ways. Through the change, it made Americans more independent, but necessarily in the favor of the government.
Prohibition did not happen overnight, there were events leading up to it. To start, drinking was the social craze of the time, thus alcoholism and other problems emerged. As captain Marriot quotes in “Prohibition”, a documentary by Lynn Novick and Ken Burns. “They say the British cannot fix anything proper without a dinner, but I’m sure the Americans can fix nothing without a drink. If you meet you drink; if you make acquaintance you drink, if you close a bargain you drink. They drink because it’s hot, they drink because it’s cold. If successful in elections they drink and rejoice, if not they drink and swear. They begin to drink early in the morning, they leave off late at night. They commence it early in life, and they continue it until they soon drop into the grave.”-Captain Fredrick Marryat. Next, abolitionists, if you would call them, pushed lawmakers to vote “Dry”, and to pass laws in favor of prohibition. Multiple organizations such as the “ASL” (Anti Saloon League), “Women Crusade”, and the “Prohibition Party” all influenced during the late 19th century, and into the 20th, towards the 18th amendment (Scott). Finally, it was surprising how far the idea of prohibition got, because of how popular drinking was. As Daniel Orkent point out in “Prohibition” “It was very unusual that a freedom loving country could try and tell people how to live their lives.” To wrap it up, prohibition was created over the desire to...
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