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To what extent was organised crime the main factor that led to the failure of Prohibition

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To what extent was organised crime the main factor that led to the failure of Prohibition? In January 1919 the 18th Amendment outlawed the manufacture, transportation and sale of liquor, backed up by the Volstead Act which classify liquor as any drink which contained 0.5% alcohol or more. Different groups backed this new law but it was also opposed by many. Prohibition, never succeeded. There were various reasons why the enforcing of Prohibition failed. Both presidential candidates in 1932 were 'wet' so on 5th December 1933 Prohibition was finally abolished by the 21st Amendment - 14 years after it had been introduced. But was organised crime and the gangsters the only reason why Prohibition failed? I will give a talk about how organised crime contributed to the failure of prohibition. The 18th Amendment had banned the sale, transportation and manufacture of alcohol in America. But it was clear to some, that millions neither wanted this law nor would respect it," rich and immigrant working class, regarded Prohibition as an intolerable infringement of personal liberty and simply defied it." There was obviously a huge market for what in the 1920's was an illegal commodity. It was the gangsters who dominated various cities who provided this commodity. "With no legitimate source of liquor left, clubs, speakeasies and private dealers were compelled to turn to the underworld bosses, became a ready prey." ...read more.


It has been estimated that in 1929, Al Capone's income from his business was $60,000,000 to $100,000,000 on illegal alcohol alone, $25,000,000 on gambling establishments, and $10,000,000 from various other 'rackets', although no-one was ever sure exactly how rich he was as he kept all his money in cash. Al Capone employed a team of heavily armed men and was under constant protection from his bodyguard. Capone and his corps were fighting using the new formula, using the weight, power and terrorisation of weapons tried and proved in the Great War. They used pistols, machine-guns and sawn off shotguns to wipe out anyone that got in their way and were rarely arrested - Capone got away with all of the 400 murders that he committed . No-one is quite sure exactly how many murders he committed, but the most reliable figures from historians suggest that it was over 400. The most famous gang warfare incident that occurred during Prohibition was probably the St Valentine's Day Massacre on 14th February 1929 when Capone's gang mowed down the entire Bug's Moran gang, their Irish rivals. This was revenge for Bugs Moran killing one of Capone's friends. One by one Capone's rivals were slaughtered. 227 rival gangsters were 'rubbed out' in four years, and he cunningly prevented himself from being caught by very careful planning and intimidating any witnesses. ...read more.


I think that the nature of the law made it very hard to enforce, as it was very hard to capture and punish law breakers. But the group who contributed most to this difficulty along side the general public, in my opinion, were the gangsters. The gangsters took control of the whole industry and made alcohol readily available to any American citizen who wanted it, although this part of the reason does combine closely with the lack of public support. I think that if it weren't for the gangsters then the problem would never have been as severe, as many members of the public would have had to go without alcohol and the Prohibition Agents' time could have been used more effectively and devoted to 'ordinary' US citizens, as opposed to gangsters, who were in the business for the money. The gangsters controlled the public, the bootleggers, the speakeasy owners and many members of the police force, government and the courts - hindering the law enforcement greatly. The problem was the great power that the gangsters had. Overall, I think that the gangsters were the main reason why Prohibition failed, followed closely by the lack of public support. My reasoning behind this opinion is that the demand by the public for alcohol could not have been met without the powerful gangsters and once they had started to meet this demand they could not be stopped as the gangsters controlled and influenced many people who should have had influence over the gangsters and stopped them providing alcohol to. ...read more.

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