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To what extent can Prohibition be seen as a failure?

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America during the 1920's - Prohibition To what extent can Prohibition be seen as a failure? Prohibition was the power to ban (prohibit) the production, export, import, transportation or sale of intoxicating beverages, the definition of such a drink being one that contained at least 0.5 per cent of alcohol. These kinds of drinks are and were generally associated with celebration, enjoyment and relaxation, so why would anybody want to forbid them? The "roaring twenties" in America were a wild, scandalous, and exciting time. To outsiders it was a fantasyland, and to most insiders it was a prosperous period of fun and pleasure. Jazz, film, cars and saloons, it was an image of success and wealth. However, not everyone shared the enjoyment for this rebellious spirit. Much criticism and disgust were expressed from groups like the Anti-Saloon League, the W.A.S.Ps, or the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. They were appalled by the misery, poverty, depravity, violence and general lack of morality found in their cities, the culprit, in their opinion, being alcohol. ...read more.


With their token of enforcement they threatened unjustified intrusion into the private lives of law-abiding people. Soon they lost most of their power and influence on the regular citizen, and so were ineffective against the increased corruption. Prohibition distorted the role of alcohol in American life, causing people to actually drink more rather then less. This promoted disrespect for the law, and generated a wave of organized criminal activity. Deaths from alcoholism actually increased by 600% during this time. Huge illegal liquor businesses were initiated at this time, organized and run by the "gangs". In the big cities especially, illegal bars (speakeasies) organised and run by the gangs appeared and multiplied rapidly. They supplied the huge demand through smuggling and personal brewing. The smuggling, (bootlegging), was not only brought and sold in the speakeasies, but also in normal nightclubs, restaurants and shops, emphasising the disregard people were feeling. The gangs obtained the liquor from Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean in ships, which were anchored out to sea beyond the three-mile limit of the law. ...read more.


The opponents generally consisted of wealthy and influential citizens in all states that were "wet" in principle, and who feared that through Prohibition the federal government might permanently compromise the tradition of individual freedom. Eventually in 1933 they managed to achieve a vote of yes or no regarding the question the 21st Amendment, the Amendment that repealed the 18th. 73% wanted to abolish Prohibition, at last it was over. Overall it can be concluded that Prohibition can be seen to a vast extent a failure. It brought America further distortion, corruption and unhappiness, and was unsuccessful in accomplishing any of its aims. However, there is no guarantee that America wouldn't have demeaned in this way had Prohibition not been instated. At the time Prohibition was campaigned for, America was undeniably rowdy and outrageous, its standards were decreasing, and its image staining. Some boundaries were definitely needed to stop the cities getting out of control; prohibition was a justified attempt to help America. Unfortunately it didn't have as much respect and support as initially thought, and therefore was simply seen as an obstacle, holding no significance to a majority of people, and therefore, failing. ...read more.

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