Prohibition - The Importance of January 16th 1920 to the US.

Authors Avatar by mtracey (student)

AP Unites States History II

Micaela Tracey

January 16th, 1920

Despite repeal and feuding opinions, January 16th of 1920 is greatly important to American history. The enactment of prohibition startled the public with the expedience of its approval, but the moral of temperance is greatly influential in the history of prohibition. Reactions to the 18th amendment and Volstead Act caused social rift between “wets and drys”, political scandal and pay offs, and economic decline. The influence of the 18th amendment was immediate within the 1920’s, the longest successful prohibition of alcohol, and forthcoming in future court rulings and interpretations of similar crisis’. Consequently this date in history proves to be a crucial event in American history.

        Prohibition was not a new solution to the communities of the United States. Temperance was used as a solution to problems of social immorality such as in 1733, James Oglethrope, a British general, attempted to outlaw alcohol in the Georgia but was unsuccessful because of outlaws within the Carolinas and caused colonist to ignore the law (Nishi 12). This attempt at a non-alcoholic community failed and proved to be a foreshadowing of what would occur almost two centuries later.

                Other events that brought about the ultimate events of January 16th, 1920, would be the numerous governmental legislation of minor restraints on alcohol previous to the 18th amendment. The first would be in 1846 when the Supreme Court gave the right to regulate the sale of alcohol to the states. This law resulted in over 12 states issuing laws of prohibition. However, all laws were repealed except for laws within Maine. A large reason for this being was the threat of the Civil War and money was needed to support a growing war effort. Therefore the Internal Revenue Act was passed 1862. This Act placed a fee on all liquor sold in the United States. Some historians believe that this act gave governmental approval to drink alcohol because it provided a plentiful source of revenue (Nishi 14).

Prohibition also never would have gained such speed had it not had promotion from various temperance organizations such as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Anti-Saloon League (ASL). The WCTU was formed 1874 and encouraged “social purity” as a way of life to reform the immorality of the use of alcohol and saloons (Engdahl 39). As Richmond Hobson was quoted, “The present generation must cut this millstone of degeneracy from the neck of humanity,” captures the mind set of the WCTU and its believed responsibility to rid the country of alcoholism its “evils” (Engdahl 34). The ASL was founded in 1893 by Howard Russell and was very similar to the WCTU but it focused more on the legislation of Prohibition and how the legislators voted. A tactic they used was to promote patriotism by associating drinking with aiding the German war effort in WWI because beer was largely imported from Germany and the large brewers of beer and other alcohols were of German descent (Ohio State University). Both organizations worked fervently to secure prohibition in national legislation and were ultimately successful on January 16th 1920 when the 18th Amendment and Volstead Act were put into action.

Join now!

The legislation of January 16th 1920 was the solution to many problems. Socially, prohibition seemed the suitable fix to immorality within the nation. The act of drinking itself was said to be the cause of numerous other harmful acts. The act of drinking would continue and cause more will to drink if the public did not stop the consumption immediately. Alcohol also was said to be the cause and aid of harmful home lives of men throwing away precious savings for booze and saloons while increasing the chance of violence within the home (Nishi 30). Prohibition would eliminate the source and ...

This is a preview of the whole essay