Why did prohibition fail?

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Julian Phillips GCSE History Coursework

Why did prohibition fail?

There was once a time when an individual could not sit down and have a beer or mixed alcoholic drink legally after a long days work. At this time the American Government felt they needed to reduce drinking by eliminating the businesses that manufactured, distributed, imported, exported and sold intoxicating liquor. This was called Prohibition. Political and religious leaders were beginning to associate alcohol consumption with the rising coincidence of crime, poverty, and violence. They believed the only way to protect society from this threat was to eliminate the "drunkard-making business." No one can really say whether Prohibition worked or not, or if it helped or not, but this paper will outline some of the reasons why prohibition was started, and why it was reversed.

        Soon after the 18th Amendment came the National Prohibition Act, better known as the Volstead Act. It was called the Volstead act because it was introduced by Andrew Volstead of Minnesota in 1919. The Volstead Act was enacted on October, 28 1919. Officially the liquor drought was to begin on January 17, 1920. The Volstead act made any alcoholic product that had an alcohol content over .5% illegal, unless it was intended for medical or religious uses. This act also set up guidelines for enforcement. Prohibition was meant to stop the consumption of alcohol; thereby reducing crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden, and improve the economy and the quality of life.

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        People said the law was not able to be enforced during the continuing demand for alcohol, therefore an illegal trade developed from the point of manufacture to consumption. Organized gangs controlled most of the liquor trade during Prohibition. They established "speakeasies" which replaced saloons. These businesses were hidden in businesses, office buildings, and anywhere that could be found. Estimates of the number of speakeasies in the entire United States ranged from 200,000 to 500,000 there were over 100,000 speakeasies in New York City alone.  There were twice as many speakeasies in Rochester, New York, as saloons closed by Prohibition. Large ...

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