When the US Congress passed the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, the supporters of Prohibition saw this as a huge victory. They were looking forward to seeing a more sober nation without the issues that alcohol caused. They expected sales of clothing and consumer goods to increase dramatically. Since the saloons would now close, they expected that property values around the saloons to go up. The soft drink industry was looking forward to a boost in revenues and the entertainment industry was expecting that Americans would find new avenues to entertain themselves such as by going to the theater to see plays or by watching movies. However, when Prohibition went into effect on January 19, 1920, none of these things happened. Instead of a “noble experiment,” as President Hoover called Prohibition, its unintended consequences were that many businesses were forced to close and the economic effects were primarily negative. Furthermore, since organized crime took over the distribution of liquor, millions of Americans were now made into criminals, and Prohibition corrupted the entire political and law enforcement system. Most importantly, Prohibition never prevented people from drinking. Instead, it fostered intemperance and excess. The “experiment” ended up a tremendous failure. I have always been fascinated with the 1920’s, but especially with Prohibition and in an effort to do my part to help make sure that we never make such a mistake again, in this paper, I will cover the roots of Prohibition and its consequences.
Anti-Saloon League Paper, The American Issue, January 25, 1919
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) made a three-part documentary film called “Prohibition”, which tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment, commonly called Prohibition. Their website (at http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/prohibition/) has many resources that cover the roots, people, and consequences of Prohibition. The information and videos on
Cited: Prohibition. Website promoting “Prohibition, a Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick”. Web. 10 April 2013.