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Do these two sources prove that Prohibition was successful?

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Introduction

History Coursework - (d) Koral Jackson 10R Study Sources G and H. Do these two sources prove that Prohibition was successful? Sources G and H are both tables of statistics from the 1920's. There are two different ways of interpreting Source G, and it all depends on assumption. Source G shows that over the period of 1921 to 1929 the number of illegal stills seized and gallons of spirits seized increased considerably. Therefore, this could mean that the police were improving their efficiency and catching more criminals. This would seem to prove that Prohibition was successful - but only if we are assuming that the number of illegal stills and gallons of spirit were either staying relatively the same or decreasing. However, the major problem with these statistics is that the number of illegal stills and gallons of spirit that there were altogether is unknown. In other words, it is possible that the number of criminals were rapidly increasing over the years, and in fact the police were not catching anywhere near as many of them as they should have been to be successful. ...read more.

Middle

Ignoring this exception, and assuming that the number of drunks at any one time was staying approximately the same, Source H is proving that the police were doing a successful job in enforcing Prohibition. We can see this because over time the police were arresting more and more drunks. However, if we were to assume that the number of drunks were increasing over time, then it is impossible to say how well the police were doing, because we do not know how many people were drunk every year in comparison to how many people were getting caught. Therefore, the success rate is impossible to judge. Focussing on the exceptional figure previously mentioned, it could be argued that the drunks were learning their lesson and therefore there were less drunks to be caught altogether, in which case Prohibition had been a success in that area. But it could also be argued that the police were slacking, and they were simply not taking as much notice of the drunks as they had done before. ...read more.

Conclusion

I have been assuming that they are not, meaning the figures show totally new amounts for each year, but if they are cumulative, then that could entirely change the extent of the success of Prohibition. A final consideration to make for these sources is that they were produced by the police. The purpose of these statistics was therefore very likely to be to prove to the public what a good job the police were doing in enforcing Prohibition. This would suggest that, although statistics are one of the most reliable sources of evidence, in this case it is possible that they were altered for impressionable reasons (i.e. they wanted to make the public believe that the enforcement of Prohibition was succeeding whether it was or not). In conclusion, Sources G and H cannot be "proving" the success of Prohibition. There are different arguments for both sources and we simply cannot judge the rate or extent of success without knowing the total amounts, or knowing for certain that the police didn't alter any of the figures. ...read more.

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