The Feminist success in the Progressive Era was strongly connected to the Protestant religious influence and was seen to contribute significantly to the introduction of the National Prohibition in the USA. The WCTU’s connection to the Anti-Saloon League and to the Protestant religion allowed women in this period to produce a voice which nobody could ignore. With alcohol corrupting their husbands’ behaviour and professional performance many women felt “powerless”. The WCTU used their power and high position to back the National Prohibition and not only deal with the issues within American homes but create a permanent voice for all women throughout the USA. The National Prohibition was an ideal target and challenge for the women of the WCTU and many felt they were “taking control” in their mission to “shut down saloons”. Jeanette Rankin was the first woman to sit in the House of Representatives and the only member of congress to vote against the USA’s entry into both of the World Wars. Rankin sat in the congress in 1916 proving to all women and the American society that women did have a voice and they could and should be heard. Interpretation D strongly supports the importance of women in the inspiration of the introduction of the National prohibition in the USA. Bordin considers the “large membership” and “lack of control” that empowered women, focusing on the WCTU, to fight with the aims of the National Prohibition. Due to lack of “legal remedies” the women of 1920’s America needed a voice and the National Prohibition would assist that scheme. I believe that the Feminist progression before and during the National Prohibition was a colossal victory for the roles and importance of women in this period but the challenge of the Prohibition was merely a tool to gain power and not the WCTU’s main aim. The introduction of the National Prohibition in the USA was supported but not influenced by the women of WCTU.
Nativism or anti-immigration was a serious issue for all social groups including the feminists within America in the 1920s, many saw this concern as a main cause of the introduction of National Prohibition into the USA. Nativism was seen throughout the Protestant religion, Feminism and society. As foreigners infiltrated America the Protestant religion feared for the increase in Roman Catholics. Congress was asked to limit the immigrants’ right to vote due to fear of new religious idealism and impurity of the public. The White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) are a good example of that American purity, they represented the high-status members of the public. The feminists within America were anxious to enforce the Prohibition law onto immigrants, though fearing that their influence from foreign backgrounds would reject the law and disrupt the Prohibition movement. Thirdly, America rejected wholly the infiltration of foreigners into their society and lifestyle. With the news of the Prohibition, many foreigners replaced the drunken American workforce allowing cheaper labour but unfortunately degrading the idealism of a pure American workforce. Futhermore the immigrants brought poverty and opportunities for cultural modernisation in America. With the current situation of the Prohibition law, the immigrants just caused a larger problem and conflict within the American society. All interpretations support the fear of immigration throughout the USA. Interpretation C begins by noting the disctintive “races, religions and foreign backgrounds” of the “urban, industrial” America. Society, explains Sinclair, feared this change and the increase in “immigrants” increasing “poverty and crime among working people”. The “infiltration of foreigners”, stated by Krout, backed the feminism belief, considered by Bordin, in purity as many of the WCTU were “primarily white, well-educated, economically prosperous native-born Protestants of Anglo-Saxon ancestry”. Overall nativism was a significant issue for the USA but with lack of neither “press nor public” attention it was not the inspiration for the introduction of the National Prohibition.
However Social Reform was mainly the influence of the introduction of National Prohibition in the USA. Social reform in America during the Progressive Era faced many versatile issues such as crime, vice, undesirable businesses, immigration, and lack of unity in the society. The cities were filled with a fear of “crime and vice” due to businesses such as “saloons”, “brothels” and “red light district” zones. All in favour of Prohibition believed these “unregenerate” areas were poisoning the unity, position and power that possessed the American status. The issues within the cities and the fears of those in the rural areas were the inspiration and influence of the Prohibition. The Prohibition could solve the undesirable situation in which America was drowning. Within major cities, the proud and loyal citizens of the USA were falling into alcoholism, prostitution, and criminalization. With the intervention of a mass of foreigners replacing the drunken labour, America’s workforce, enthusiasm and economic security was weakening with the fall of its citizens. The power and political standing behind the Social Reform is massive which is why I believe it was the main inspiration for the Prohibition. With support from the WCTU, and the Anti-Saloon League, this was the theme with the largest voice and need for change. Krout examines the effect of alcoholism on the American society, noting the lowered “worker’s efficiency, reduced production, decreased consumption, increased taxation and endangered business prosperity”. With “no sensible businessman” investing money in fading businesses, America was struggling to maintain their political and economic position over Europe. Interpretations A, B and C support the need of Social Reform in the late 1910’s. Social Reform in America needed to boost the mentality of the public, reunite the independence and strength of the American workforce, decrease the fear of crime and vice within the major cities and keep immigration at a minimum to maintain purity and avoid interracial marriages and offspring. This was the inspiration for the introduction of National Prohibition into the USA.
Social reform desired a phenomenal movement that would stir the American public into a new generation. Within social reform is the aspects of Protestant religion, women’s rights and nativism which all combined could have changed the American culture permanently via the National Prohibition. If the Prohibition had succeeded in gaining a majority of “dry” states, the major cities would be rid of the extravagant number of saloons, brothels etc. allowing a more efficient and eager workforce and therefore sustaining American power and position over Europe. Consequently reducing the number of immigrants as less jobs would be available and the Protestants within America would have less fear over the cultural development of the Roman Catholicism into the USA. To conclude, it can be argued that Social Reform was the inspiration for the introduction of National Prohibition into the USA.