Assess the view that the introduction of National Prohibition in the USA was inspired mainly by Protestant Religious Idealism

Authors Avatar by gemmalough (student)

16c. The introduction of National Prohibition

Using these four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that the introduction of National Prohibition is the USA was inspired mainly by Protestant religious idealism.

National Prohibition in the USA was introduced to create what contemporary Prohibitionists would call a success for the public’s morals, economic security and stability within their social and professional environment. The Eighteenth Amendment stirred the USA dramatically causing uproar and unsettlement among the society in 1920’s America. The Prohibition was inspired by themes such as Protestant religious idealism, Feminism, Nativism and Social Reform. This essay will look into interpretations of four historians combined with wider reading and own knowledge while exploring the importance of all the themes but arguing specifically that Social Reform was mainly the inspiration of the introduction of the National Prohibition in the USA.

The introduction of National Prohibition into the USA was greatly believed to be influenced and inspired by Protestant religious idealism. Protestantism was classed as the “greatest single force” and with the impression that consuming alcohol was a personal sin many doubted the Democratic aim to eliminate the Prohibition and therefore chose to support the movement. Influenced by the Protestant idealism many states chose to go “dry” and fight against the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcohol. Protestant America believed strongly that alcohol was work of “the devil” and to protect the American nation and its next generation, the Prohibition movement must continue and succeed. The Protestant religion had many connections in the Progressive Era, such as the WCTU, the WASPs, and the Anti-Saloon League which all provided support such as mass of factions, financial power and a political presence. Interpretation A fully supports this view, suggesting that those “wet” citizens would be grouped as “unregenerate”. Furthermore, Interpretation C draws attention to the connection between the rural areas and their “large Protestant, native-born population” in comparison to the cities’ “heterogeneity of races, religions and foreign backgrounds”. However, Interpretation B explains the lifestyle of the major cities, concentrating on “red light districts” and “brothels” with no mention of a major religious influence. This contrast of interpretations links to Kobler’s view that the religious idealism throughout America, and therefore the support of the National Prohibition, centres mainly on the area of which the public lived, whether that be the religious rural areas, or the modern and disrupt cities. Although Protestant religious idealism played a large part in the mass of support of the National Prohibition I believe it was not the main influence in its creation and introduction to the USA. 

Join now!

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 ...

This is a preview of the whole essay