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America: Prohibition Sources Question

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Name: Sam Koprowski Candidate Number: 7393 School: George Ward Centre Number: 66633 America: Prohibition 1) This poster, published in 1910 by the anti-saloon league, shows what the anti-saloon league has against the making, selling and consumption of alcohol. The most obvious argument is that men waste their money on alcohol in bars. This is put across clearly by the image of a man handing over a bag of money with 'weeks wages' written on it to the Bartender. The next point is the fact that the bartender is smiling with open hands, as he is perfectly happy to accept the man's money. Another part of the poster that shows this factor is the title, "The Poor Man's Club: the most expensive in the world to belong to". This is all linked into the first section of writing; whish says that the alcohol trade is a slave trade and that 'It is natural, of course, that the slaveholder should not care to liberate these slaves'. Another link to the man wasting money is the inset picture of a distraught wife, and a child holding an empty bowl. The caption in the inset is 'the saloon is well named "the poor man's club", it keeps its members and their families always poor'. It is pointing out that married men are not just wasting their own money; it affects their families too. The poster says 'a member of the club in good standing paying his dues'. This is referring to the man who is giving the bartender his money. This implies that the man does this regularly. This also links in with the distraught wife, as she would be upset because her husband would be home late and would be drunk. ...read more.


If I break the law, my customers are as guilty as I am. You can't cure thirst by law". This shows that the main reason that prohibition failed was that there was not enough support by the public. Most of the support came from strict Christians who believed that alcohol was evil, and from the powerful businessmen who wanted their workers to be more efficient. When you take this into account, it is not surprising that there was not much support for prohibition, as the average American would probably look to alcohol as a way to relax or as a means of celebration, and so they would not have taken to the idea of alcohol being illegal. Many ordinary people would not have liked the idea of prohibition, but the key factor is that the people who were likely to support prohibition were also likely to be the people with more political power. This meant that the people who made the decision to enforce prohibition would have been likely to be biased in it's favour, and this would explain why the prohibition laws were not supported by the majority of the general public. Capone's statement also brings out another point: the fact that he, one of the most powerful gangsters around at that time, was willing to supply the public's needs. With alcohol in such high demand, the profits became a very tempting attraction for organised criminals in America. And with the big criminals behind the alcohol trade, it became much easier for it to be produced in large quantities and be supplied in proper establishments, especially when gang leaders such as Capone had influence with the politicians. And due to the fact that they were large organisations they were able to bribe prohibition agents, and if they could not be bribed, then they used force. ...read more.


The rackets may not have actually been directly run by Capone, and would have been a remainder of the previous methods of gaining a living for the gangs before the prohibition. As for the killings, many of them were not actually performed by Capone, and they were only killing other criminals, which could be said to have been doing the public a service. Also, it is on record that Capone paid the medical bills for a woman bystander who was injured during a gang battle. Another good deed that he did for the public was to set up many soup kitchens for the poor and homeless around Christmas time. He did many things in style, such as after one of the members of an opposing gang was murdered; he had thousands of dollars worth of flowers sent to his funeral. Many saw him simply as an aggressive, successful, and intelligent businessman who did what was necessary to ensure the security of himself and his businesses. I see him as more of a businessman than a murderer. He obviously did not intend any casualties or injuries on anyone other than those who offered direct opposition to him and posed a threat to either his businesses or his life. Most of his money was gained by supplying alcohol and venues at which to drink it, mainly in Chicago but also in the other states of America. He displayed an indifference to those who did not directly concern him, but he did also show kindness on occasions in the form of the soup kitchens and shelters, and when he paid the injured woman's medical bills. I agree with both sides of the argument, that the title 'Public Enemy No. 1' was suited to him for his killings, but for his alcohol supplying business, I do not believe this was an appropriate title for him. 7) 8) 9) 10) ...read more.

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