How successful was Prohibition?

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                                          How successful was prohibition ?            

                                                                                                                                                 (30 marks)

Prohibition, considering the goals it set out to achieve , was largely unsuccessful. However initially it did manage to decrease alcohol consumption , created new jobs  needed to enforce prohibition and found in 1934 Alcoholics Anonymous a ,voluntary effort program that  succeeded in helping alcoholics. On January 16th, 1920, prohibition was introduced nationally by the 18th amendment which banned the sale, transportation and manufacture of intoxicating liquor with the general purpose of reducing alcohol consumption. It was considered, by mainly protestant groups, that alcohol was the source of social problems, thus by banning it their goals was to reduce crime, corruption, reduce tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses , and improve health  and hygiene in America. By the end of the 1920s, with booming illegal trade in alcohol, it was evident that the ‘’noble experiment’’ had largely failed to achieve it goals.    

Making alcohol illegal naturally lead to a deficiency in supply and a rise in its price which made it available only to a limited section of society and caused an initial decrease in consumption. However the sudden shift meant that demand still existed –old stock Americans and newly arrived immigrants refused to abandon drinking. As alcohol became a luxury item increasing its appeal and demand to young people. Non-drinkers were also targeted as a means of improving sales due to the obvious profits to be made. This meant that by 1922 consumption began to rise steadily reaching the amount of 1.2 gallons of alcohol per capita 1923, a huge leap compared to the 0.8 gallons consumed in 1919 before prohibition.

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Driven by the opportunity to satisfy demand and make a profit a network of illegal bootleggers and speakeasies emerged. A research conducted uncovered twice as many speak easies in Rochester, New York, as saloons closed by Prohibition. In this sense prohibition could have increased demand by increasing the availability of alcohol. Due to the hidden and small nature of speakeasies, authorities lost the legal control over the locations of drinking establishments with which previously they had been able to keep record thanks to local ordinances , taxes and licensing laws and regulations. Prohibition not only eliminated these political tools but ...

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This student is particularly good at using vocabulary in a subtle way to demonstrate their understanding. By using the word "naturally" in "Making alcohol illegal naturally lead to a deficiency in supply", they are suggesting they understand why there was a deficiency: the student is right not to explain exactly why it was natural because it isn't an economics essay, and a history student is not expected to know detailed information on why supply can become deficient. But if the sentence didn't have "naturally", it would sound like the student was retelling how it happened, and examiners are looking for students to say why things happened, so try to occasionally drop in words like "naturally", "clearly" and "obviously" that show you fully understand what you are discussing. Spelling, grammar and punctuation are generally quite good but could be improved in places: in "creating a black-market environment that breed violence." "breed" should be "bred". Getting perfect spelling is not necessarily a must to get good marks, but it makes the essay easier to read: if he or she doesn't have to spend time trying to work out what you are saying, the examiner can spend more time looking at the examples you've learnt or the argument you've created, so always check your work to make sure it makes sense. The style of writing is excellent: there is no informality, which is good because the student is writing about a serious historical debate.

The student uses an appropriate range of evidence that at times shows a very deep understanding of the subject. In the second paragraph, the comparison between the numbers of gallons in various years is good because it tells the examiner that the student knows what makes one figure a big leap in consumption and what makes another figure a small leap. The essay avoids mentioning lots of details about what happened in each event/person - for example, a worse version of the essay would have used two or three sentences talking about unnecessary details such as Al Capone's life story, when in fact the examiners are looking for why Al Capone did what he did and the effects it had, which is what this essay discusses. The conclusion is excellent as it balances the reasons for and against the view, even though the reasons for the view aren't considered in as much detail in the essay as a whole (see section 1). A particularly good aspect of the conclusion is the last sentence - "Perhaps the strongest indicator of its failure is the fact that it has been the only constitutional amendment to have been repealed." - because it places one reason above all the others, showing that the student is able to assess the pros and cons of the reasons and judge which is the most important. By pointing out that it was the "only" one repealed, they say why. It could be made even better by saying "the only one ever to be repealed", as "ever" would show an awareness of the significance of the event in the broader context of American history - examiners like to see specific knowledge placed in a broad context.

The student answers the question in the opening sentence and immediately summarises the reasons for and against the view that Prohibition was a success, which shows straight away they understand exactly what they have been asked. This means that one or two mistakes further on are more likely to be ignored because the student has already demonstrated their knowledge. The student is not general or empty at any point in the essay (they avoid using statements like "This led to many changes.") which shows that they know and understand enough to write a detailed essay. However, the essay is one-sided as it mostly gives reasons why Prohibition was a failure: while this is probably true, you have to write a substantial amount about both sides of the argument, because it shows you are thinking about and understanding Prohibition deeply enough to know there is more than one possible explanation for historical events. You must also do this to get above half marks in many mark schemes. A good way to achieve this is to structure the essay in the format: introduction > reasons for > reasons against > conclusion. This way, you will definitely get both sides in, and then you just have to focus on choosing the relevant evidence. It is good to say "The Assistant Secretary of the Treasury stated..." as it shows an awareness of what other people have thought, but it would be even better to name the person you are quoting because this shows you have read around the subject.