Mrs. Molly Brown
AP United States History
10 April 2014
Was Prohibition a Failure?
Due to the progressive and forward-thinking society the 1920s had become, it was hard for Americans to set limits on what they and their American society could achieve. However, some barriers were impeding their attainment of a society free of the burdens it had just previously dealt with. During the 1920s, a progressive mindset dominated Congress and Americans. Prohibition of alcohol was one of the many ways progressives attempted to improve the quality of life in such a seemingly forward-thinking and enlightened decade. To many, alcoholic beverages and more specifically, saloons, were the source of most of the remaining problems within society; such stories of drunken men stealing or savagely beating their wives and abusing their children were hard to ignore. Thus, the logical next step on the progressive agenda was to outlaw activities associated with alcohol. Prohibition of alcohol, as outlined in the Eighteenth Amendment, effectively established that the manufacture, sale, and transportation of “intoxicating liquors” with alcohol content greater than 0.5 percent by volume, was illegal (Burnham 228). Establishment of law was not enough, and passage of the Volstead Act, which clarified the law and enumerated penalties associated with violating the law, occurred a few months later. It is important to note that among the restraints associated with alcohol prohibition, consumption and possession were not illegalized. Saloons and bars were often viewed under a more negative eye than alcoholic beverages they served, and due to this, they were the main target of prohibition. However, the era of prohibition of alcohol in the United States began before the well-known Eighteenth Amendment was ratified in early 1919. In reality, prohibition of “intoxicating liquors” began with the passage of the Wartime Prohibition Act in November of 1918, which banned the sale of...
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Burnham, James. “New Perspectives on the Prohibition ‘Experiment’ of the 1920s.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views On Controversial Issues in United States History Volume 1. Ed. Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle. 14th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 227-235.
Coolidge, Calvin. "How the National Prohibition Law is Administered." Congressional Digest. (1924): Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
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Kyvig, David. “America Sobers Up.” Taking Sides: Clashing Views On Controversial Issues in United States History Volume 1. Ed. Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle. 14th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011. 217-226.Thornton, Mark. "Cato Institute Policy Analysis No.157: Alcohol Prohibition Was a Failure." Policy Analysis. (1991): n. page. Web. 3 Feb. 2014.
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