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History - Prohibition

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History Coursework Prohibition (a) Sources A and B On 17th January 1920, Prohibition was introduced under the Volstead Act. In the 18th Amendment, the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors was banned. In other words, it was illegal to buy, sell or make alcohol in the USA from January 1920. However, it was not illegal to drink it. To a certain extent, sources A and B do agree about Prohibition. Both sources agree that work of the 'Anti - Saloon League' was a major reason for the introduction of Prohibition. This League was set up by the Women's Temperance Movement. This Temperance Movement was established by devout Christians who came from rural states. These Christians saw the damage alcohol caused to family life. This damage is shown in source D with dishevelled children standing outside a saloon waiting for their father to come out. These Temperance Movements were very strong in some states and managed to persuade their local governments to ban the sale of alcohol within that state. Sources A and B also agree on the consequences of Prohibition: they show that no one wanted to follow the law which led to a massive increase in organized crime. 'It created the greatest criminal boon in American history'; 'Gangsters like Dutch Schulz and Al Capone had turned the avoidance of Prohibition into a big, violent business'. Prohibition led to an increase in the power, money and criminal activities of gangsters. These gangsters made millions in selling illegal alcohol and they generally came from poor backgrounds within immigrant communities, such as Polish, Jewish, Irish and Italian. They all aimed to suppress their rivals and used new technology such as cars and machine guns to do so. The government had appointed men to be Prohibition Agents to ensure that the law was carried out but many of these men (as well as judges, policemen, clerks, petty officials, magistrates and politicians) ...read more.


However, these increases are limited in the information given. Source G does not compare the total number of stills or gallons with the number seized, but only shows the latter which could only be only a very small percentage. To add to this, source H only shows statistics from Philadelphia, not from the whole of America nor does it give a comparison with another state. However, in summary, despite the limitations of both sources, they do tend to prove that during the 1920s, prohibition was not successful. If it had been successful, a decrease would be expected in all the figures. It could even be said that, as alcohol was illegal, any convictions for drunkenness or any seizures of illegal stills prove its failure. (e) Sources I and J Prohibition led to a massive increase in the power, money and criminal activities of gangsters. An organized gang could make around $2 billion out of the sale of illegal alcohol. Gangs fought against each other to control the liquor trade in each state. They used new technology, such as cars and machine guns to suppress their rivals. By the late 1920s, the bribery and terror tactics of gangsters had made the enforcement of Prohibition ineffective. For example, in Chicago, Al Capone even controlled the mayor. Source I is a cartoon depicting various law enforcement bodies such as 'clerk', 'magistrate', 'politician' and 'prohibition agents', all lined up shoulder to shoulder, with their right hand held open, behind their backs. This portrays people who are supposed to enforce the law, secretly and willingly being bribed to 'turn a blind eye'. This image shows corruption of those law enforcers. The title 'The National Gesture' shows that this corruption is happening everywhere in the United States of America. Source J is 'a policeman talking about Chicago in the 1920s'. It talks about the bribery of gangsters and the corruption of the law enforcers: 'I opened it and there was $75 in it', 'it was a conspiracy and my senior officers were involved in it.' ...read more.


On this day, two men dressed as police officers and two ordinary dressed men, walked into a warehouse were seven of Bugs Moran's men were waiting for an alleged order of cheap alcohol; Moran's seven men were shot down, killed and blood poured everywhere. However, the actions of the Chicago gangsters had not been extremely violent until the death of Mike Merlo. Mike Merlo died on the 8th November 1924. His death marked the end of the peace in Chicago. This led to a stream of revenge killings between the North Side and South Side Gangs. The ultimate revenge killing was performed by Al Capone's men on 14th February 1929. On Friday 7th 1928, Tony Lombardo, current head of the Sicilian Union and friend of Al Capone was ambushed and killed. The plan for revenge for Lombardo's death - on St Valentines Day 1929 - did not go completely to plan. One of Moran's men was mistaken for Moran himself and after the shooting the latter, when asked who he thought had carried out the atrocities, said: "Only Capone kills like that". When questioned about the incident Capone said: "The only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran". This incident shocked and sickened the population, it was said that this was when the gangsters had turned murder into massacre and that some line had been crossed as seven people had been killed all at the same time. The St Valentine's Day Massacre marked the end of an era for gangsters in America. All the sources show that, although there was some initial support for Prohibition, ultimately, with the rise of the gangsters and the corruption of the law enforcers as well as the reluctance of ordinary Americans to follow a law the despised, prohibition was doomed to fail and in December 1933, once the Depression was in full swing, President Franklin D Roosevelt repealed Prohibition and Americans were once again, allowed to manufacture, sell and transport intoxicating liquors. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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