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Prohibition - source related study.

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Introduction

History Coursework: Specification: OCR Modern World History GCSE History B 1937 Assignment 2 Center No: 25210 Center Name: John Cleveland College Candidate Number: ****** Question A: Sources A & B are similar in that they are both secondary sources, and they were both written in the 1970's. However they differ in their presentation of information and disagree on causes of prohibition. Source A explains well to the reader why people were in support of a ban on alcohol at that time. The language used is extreme and in support of the decision made - e.g. moral fervour, greatest, no earlier law passed by constitution went against peoples livelihood. It does not mention anything that happened after the introduction of the 'Volstead Act' (1919) apart from the eventual, and perhaps inevitable, failure of prohibition. Source A does not provide evidence for its sensational claims, only offering an interpretation. For example it states that prohibition brought about " the greatest criminal boom... perhaps in all modern history" but does not back up this statement. Whereas Source B is very specific and goes into more detail about the effects of prohibition, giving facts and a quotation from the time. The sources differ in the amount of detail they provide on the reasons for which prohibition was introduced- Source A offers "a number of possible explanations" as to the popularity of the pro-prohibition groups. Source A acknowledges the fact that most people had stopped drinking during the war because grain was needed for food, and the breweries were mainly owned by German-American immigrants, so most people. Source B states only that it was a nationwide 'crusade' led by the Anti-Saloon League that brought about the "amendment to the Constitution". Source B does not dispute against alcohol being "one of the greatest evils of the time". Also it does not include any information on the after effects of this law. ...read more.

Middle

Prohibition must have been a failure, because he visited saloons, although technically there should not have been any saloons as they were illegal according to the Volstead act. However he says, if you tried to enforce the law they'd (his superior officers) put you in a post were there was nothing but weeds." So the superior officers were definitely corrupt because they ignored the speakeasies, this would probably be because they were receiving bribes from the speakeasies' owners. He also mentions this saying that: "It was a conspiracy and my superior officers were involved in it." So the supposed upholders of the law were ignoring the illegal goings on, as they were bribed to do so. Source I is a real representation of what the supposed law enforcers were actually doing- receiving bribes then turning a blind eye to the illegal doings. So source J is not proved but supported- this corruption was going on everywhere at every level in the force. Source J only describes that particular police force. It doesn't mention anything about the magistrates or any of the other higher levels of the police force. The author also does not mention any other region or city in the country. Question F: Source A is a very generalised source, which describes the causes of prohibition, such as the nationalistic decision to stop drinking alcohol during the war because most breweries were owned by German-American immigrants, also grain was needed for food. Source A does not state or suggest that Prohibition was going to be inevitable. It describes the possible causes for the introduction of the law and then the after effects, however the last line says: "For no other law had gone against the daily habits, customs and desires of many Americans. " This suggests that although the failure of the law was not inevitable, most Americans would have been disappointed against the ruling and gone against it because they "desired" to have alcohol. ...read more.

Conclusion

This source does not say that prohibition was bound to failure as soon as it was introduced, but if the enforcers weren't doing their job then it wasn't going to be a success. Source I is a policeman talking about what it was like during prohibition. He says that "my superior officers were involved in it" this shows how far the corruptness went, all levels of the police force were involved in it. He was given an envelope, which contained $75 once after being sent to a certain region in Chicago. The enforcement agencies could not compete with the money the speakeasy owners had, and although they had previously been a rarity, cops who were accepting bribes became the majority. Also in the source he says: "you couldn't pay for anything" the speakeasy owners were very confident, and they knew they weren't going to be arrested. Another quote is "if you tried, to enforce the law" because of the common knowledge that the superior officers were in with the speakeasy owners, all of the policemen followed their example. This source shows just what the enforcers were up against, and how hard the law was to enforce, it doesn't say anything about prohibition being a failure from the start. Notes: 23 states had already introduced a ban on alcohol by 1917. This would mainly have been in the strictly religious south. Other factors for the nationwide anti-alcohol campaign are the population mainly consisted of women, as a large number of American men in the armed forces that were fighting over in France and so it was a mainly female population left back at home. And additionally German-American immigrants owned the main breweries and grain (a main ingredient of beer) was needed for food -the sources agree on this factor, saying that most people were for the banning of grain for the use of distilling or brewing. Those two factors were a mainly a result of the war and patriotism. Laurence Oglesby 11-T18 Page 1 of 8 Assignment 2: "Was Prohibition bound to fail?" ...read more.

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