Was Prohibition bound to Fail

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Anthony Michaelides  11M

Ms Stoker

History Coursework

Was Prohibition bound to Fail?


        These two accounts agree with Prohibition to a certain extent. Both sources agree that campaigns should be run against alcohol. Source A- “The influence of the anti- saloon league.” This campaign agrees with prohibition, they wanted saloons to be banned because they believed that it was a bad influence and encouraged people to waste their money and once people had too much to drink the campaign thought that they caused crime. It launched a strong propaganda campaign and put pressure on politicians to support the cause. Source B- “The women’s Christian Temperance Union.” This campaign was a very religious one. They were against alcohol because they believed that drinking was bad and should not be done. Both the sources agree that the use of grain is being wasted on alcohol so it should be banned. Source A- “Preserving grain for food.”

Source B- “Congress to ban the use of grain.” Both the sources believe that the use of grain being used to make alcohol will have to stop. Both sources agree that alcohol caused criminal activity. This was a reason why they wanted to introduce Prohibition. Source A- “No earlier law produced such widespread crime.”  This is very ironic because they wanted to stop the amount of crime by getting rid of alcohol but instead the opposite happened and caused more criminal activity. Source B- “Dutch Shulz and Al Capone had turned the avoidance of prohibition into big violent business.” Prohibition caused a big increase in gangsters, which means more crime and trouble.


Although the sources agree with each other in certain aspects, they also disagree with each other or have a difference to a particular point. An example of this, would be the fact that they both agree with the fact that grain should be banned but for different reasons. Source A says, “preserve grain for food” but source B says, “wanted to ban the use of grain for either distilling or brewing.” This tells us that that they didn’t both want to preserve grain for food. Source B mentions the fact that prohibition brought on crime and business for gangsters. “ Big violent business.” It was organised crime, which played such a big part in prohibition. I know this because it says in the Steven Waugh history book that, “This was the biggest effect of prohibition.” It doesn’t go into detail about the amount of crime produced in source A, considering it played such a big part of prohibition.


        I feel that the two sources agree with prohibition much more than they disagree. Both the sources talk about why and how the government wanted to introduce prohibition and what they wanted the outcome to be.


 Source C shows a man handing over his week’s wages to the barman whilst his family sit at home crying without enough money to buy food and clothing.  They are ‘slaves of the saloon’, meaning that their family life is governed by the man’s obsession to drinking in these establishments. It says on the source “The poor man’s club.” This is very ironic because they wouldn’t be poor men if they weren’t spending their money on alcohol. The poster say’s that its “the most expensive in the world to belong to” because all the money they earn is how much it costs for them to stay in the saloon and to drink the alcohol and to stay part of the club. The man handing his money over to the barman is a club member in good standing “paying his dues.” He is basically paying his membership fee to be a member of the club. In the small caption where the family is, it says “the saloon is well named the poor mans club, it keeps it members and their families always poor.” This is very true because after the man has spent all the money that he’s earned he will be poor and without the money he earn his family will stay poor. It mainly tends to be the men out in the saloons because the women were at home looking after the family.

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Source D shows a different picture but a similar story, children outside, looking into a saloon saying “daddy’s in there.” He is spending all his time and money whilst they are stood outside, hungry and abandoned.  

These posters were published in 1910/1915 and prohibition did not come into effect until January 1920.  It therefore shows the problems of the growing addiction to alcohol, saloons and crime that were with the nation well before Prohibition. These posters were an example for people against alcohol and for people to agree with prohibition.

        Both Sources C and D ...

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