Prohibition

Topics: Temperance movement, Prohibition in the United States, Ethanol Pages: 5 (1376 words) Published: March 2, 2015
As America flourished with their newfound independence, taverns and drinking houses became the focal point of all ethnic neighborhoods. Immigrants felt comfortable in taverns; being surrounded by a common ethnicity, foreigners were free to converse in their native tongue and keep touch with their motherland. These pubs created a safe haven for people to unwind after a long week, while also generating revenue from the tax placed on liquor itself. Throughout the 19th century, a variety of different and ineffective (at the time) movements against alcohol surfaced across America. The temperance movement was brought to the society’s attention by the American Temperance Society, the Womens Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), the Anti-Saloon League, and Carrie Nation, causing nineteen states to ratify their constitutions and ban alcohol. . They used propaganda to compare the slave-trade to drunkenness, including their most popular quote: “A slave had lost control of his body, a drunkard lost control of his soul” (Rorabaugh 214). With the ratification of the 16th amendment (that created income taxes), the government no longer needed the liquor tax. This set the stage for the movement that eventually led to the ratification of the 18th Amendment, Prohibition. Prohibition of alcohol consumption in America damaged the very economic and social aspects of American culture in many ways. Prohibition turned out to be unsuccessful, and did notreach the projected goals. Instead of solving the problems, it ended up adding on to issues. On 16th January 1920, one of the most common personal habits and customs of American society came to a halt. The eighteenth amendment was implemented, making all importing, exporting, transporting, selling and manufacturing of intoxicating liquors absolutely prohibited. This law was created in the hope of achieving the reduction of alcohol consumption, which in turn would reduce: crime, poverty, death rates, and improve both the economy, and the quality of life for all Americans. These goals were far from achieved. The prohibition amendment of the 1920’s was ineffective because it was unenforceable. Instead, it caused various social problems such as: the explosive growth of organized crime, increased liquor consumption, massive murder rates and corruption among city officials. Prohibition also hurt the economy because the government wasn?t collecting taxes on the multi-billion dollar a year industry. One of the main reasons that prohibition failed, was because it was difficult to control the mass flow of illegal liquor from various countries, mainly Canada. ?Bootleggers smuggled liquor from oversees and Canada, stole it from government warehouses, and produced their own.? The newly established Federal Prohibition Bureau had only 1,550 agents, and ?with 18,700 miles of vast and virtually unpoliceable coastline, it was clearly impossible to prevent immense quantities of liquor from entering the country.? Not even 5% of smuggled liquor was ever actually captured and seized from the hands of the bootleggers. Bootlegging had become a very competitive and lucrative market with the adaptation of prohibition. This illegal underground economy fell into the hands of organized gangs who over powered most of the authorities. Most of these gangsters, secured their businesses by bribing an immense number of city officials. Mainly government agents and people with high political status such as: Mayors, Judges, Police Chiefs, Senators and Governors, found their names on gangsters payroll. To some surprise, the consumption of liquor in the years before prohibition, was actually very lower then that of the years throughout prohibition. As a result of this new law, a new social problem arose. Seldom has law been more flagrantly violated. Not only did Americans continue to manufacture, barter, and possess alcohol; they drank more of it.? Americans who supported prohibition, argued that if drinking alcohol was illegal, the public...
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