Prohibition movement in America1920-1932.

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Guy Hollidge year 11   - History Coursework              Mr Przybylski    November 2002-11-27

Prohibition movement in America 1920-1932

When the 18
th Amendment to the Constitution was passed, the supporters of Prohibition believed it would lead to a better America – more moral and successful.  In actual fact, Prohibition created many more problems than it was supposed to solve.

Illegal alcohol (moonshine and bootleg): moonshine was produced illegally by individuals.  This can lead to alcohol that is poisonous.  Bootleg alcohol was imported illegally and during the Prohibition, tens of thousands of illegal stills were set up around the country.  Bootleg alcohol could be brought across land borders of Canada and Mexico and by sea.  Tens of thousands of miles of coastline made this easy.

Another problem was that the few thousand Prohibition agents could not keep track of every border crossing or every section of coastline.  Since Prohibition agents were paid very little a week, it was easy for criminals to bribe them to turn a ‘blind eye’.

The demand for alcohol increased by more than threefold (23,000 speakeasies in New York alone) and alcohol consumption per person actually increased during Prohibition.  Soon criminals realised that massive profits could be made from supplying the speakeasies around the country and criminals bribed police and politicians to turn a blind eye.

Both sources agree that the main pressures to ban alcohol came from the public.  Source A says it was the Anti-Saloon League.  Source A states that the banning of alcohol went against public wishes, but source B just quotes Al Capone as saying there was a “public demand” for alcohol.  Source A says that the consequence of Prohibition was the biggest crime book in American history but source B just refers to “big violent business” as a consequence of Prohibition.  Source B is from an American History book published in 1979.

Many of the brewers were of German descent.  Campaigners argued that it was patriotic to close breweries down.  They also argued that grain would be a better-used feeding USA’s ally in Europe.

Alcoholism was the main reason for banning alcohol.  By the spending of the week’s wages in the saloons, the family might no have been able to eat.  The slogan “The Poor man’s club the most expensive in the world to belong to” was very true for families before the Prohibition.  

The Women’s Christian Union and the Anti-Saloon League had long campaigned for Prohibition.  They thought this would end drunkenness and the evil that went with it.
 Guy Hollidge year 11   - History Coursework              Mr Przybylski    November 2002-11-27

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Their campaign had massive support from the deeply Christian American people.  Both sources state that there was a crime boom.  Source A states “It created the greatest criminal boom in American history….”.  Source B tells us that by 1928, there were more than 30,000 speakeasies in New York alone:  “Gangsters like Dutch Schulz and Al Capone made Prohibition into big, violent business”.  These gangsters ran bootleg alcohol across the borders of America and Canada and Mexico.  Anyone who got in the way was bribed or disposed of.

“Were the Artists of these two posters for or against Prohibition?”

The artist ...

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