The History of Bootlegging in America

Topics: Prohibition in the United States, The Great Gatsby, Rum-running Pages: 6 (1913 words) Published: September 26, 2010
Bootlegging: How it Affected Americans

Bootlegging didn't end when the 18th amendment was repealed. Bootlegging has a long history in America and its meaning has evolved over the years. During the prohibition era the consumption of alcohol was illegal and in modern times the illegal obtaining of consumer media is considered bootlegging. Bootlegging in the early times spawned the practice of rum running which was another extension of bootlegging. This bootlegging is mentioned was described in The Great Gatsby in which one of the main characters runs a bootlegging business. America's history is one that includes bootlegging that existed in the 1920s with the illegal consumption of alcohol and still exists today with the obtaining of copyrighted material illegally.

The word bootlegging originated in the Midwest when people put flasks of alcohol in their boots (Bootlegging 2). Bootlegging is defined as something, as a recording, made, reproduced, or sold illegally or without authorization. This practice took place long before the 18th amendment (prohibiting the consumption of alcohol) was put into place. It was mainly practiced by farmers who thought of it as an easy way to get money, but this later expanded into urban areas. Even before the 18th Amendment was passed many towns and cities started the prohibition making it easier to pass in congress. The 18th Amendment was the culmination of a century of attempts to get rid of alcohol. After the 18th amendment was put into place was when bootlegging became a rampant practice. Prohibition changed the way the nation viewed authority, the court system, wealth, and class.

Bootlegging was a practice that involved violence, gangs, and illegal practices such as rum running. Rum running in the United States was the smuggling alcohol from other countries such as Canada and the Bahamas (Everetts 129). Rum running was an extensive and risky business with the American coast guard out looking for rum runners all the time. Rum running's business was one that was a cash and carry. People would come offshore to a boat containing alcohol from other countries. They would pay for it and bring it back inland themselves (Everetts 130). This practice did not go unopposed though; the United States coast guard would keep their eye out for this kind of activity going on. In turn, the rum runners would make sure there were no officials around when making deals offsetting the United States approach to stop this. Also to defend anyone from bringing down their operation their ships were stocked with guns and lots of ammunition in case they needed it. These efforts to stop rum running never succeeded also because some police officers and coast guard members were in on the operation and were paid off to keep quiet. Also rum runners and normal bootleggers on land had to also watch out for other bootleggers. Other bootleggers would try to steal their business and take control over that area. Although rum running was never opposed well the risk of the business was worth it for some then because with the great depression around the corner there was little work and this was a last resort for some. In the end, more than a million gallons of alcohol crossed into the United States from Canada alone by sea (Everetts 129-134).

Rum running was the big industry on the sea, but on the land it was a different story. Prohibition instigated a national drinking spree during the time of prohibition and it was fueled by large gangs. Gangs wanted control of the bootlegging market and sometimes these gangs would take all risks to get control including violence. Gangs tried to secure and enlarge the territories they controlled and had a monopoly of distribution. In Chicago 800 gangsters were killed in gang related warfare over alcohol sales during the prohibition era (Batchelor 1). Gradually gangs with large monopolies on the bootlegging industry extended their control to other things such as prostitution, illegal...

Cited: Allen, Everetts. "Rumrunners." _The Black Ship: Rumrunners of Prohibition_. 1965. Rpt. in _Prohibition_. Ed. Dennis Nishi. Farmington ill, Mi: Greenhaven Press, 2003. 129-134. Print.
Batchelor, Bob. "Bootlegging." Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scibner 's Sons, 2003. 503-504. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Jan 2010.
"Bootlegging." _Encyclop_ædia _Britannica_. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Enclyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 19 Jan 2010
Fitzgerald,F. Scott. _The Great Gatsby_. New York: Scribner, 2004.
"Piracy." _Encyclop_ædia _Britannica_. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Enclyclopædia Britannica, 2010. Web. 19 Jan 2010
Rolfe, Pamela. "_New Pirates of the Spanish Main: Myriad Factors Lead to Rampant Illegal Downloading_." Hollywood Reporter. 403-48 (2008): 10. Student Resource Center Bronze Print. 19 Jan. 2010
Ruopp, Thomas. Personal Interview. 15 Jan 2010.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Bootlegging Essay
  • History of the Americas- IA Paper
  • history Essay
  • History of Essays
  • HISTORY Essay
  • history Essay
  • History Research Paper
  • history Research Paper

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free