Why was Prohibition introduced in the USA in 1919?

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Ruby Rumjon 11E

Why was Prohibition introduced in the USA in 1919?

In this essay it will be argued that there were many reasons why prohibition was introduced. The arguments of the various movements will be discussed, as well as the effect of WWI and patriotism.

To begin with the law against the selling and making of alcohol in America was passed by congress in 1917, due to the eighteenth amendment; it didn’t come into effect until January 16th 1920 at precisely midnight. Shortly after the amendment had been passed, the ‘National Prohibition Act’ or the ‘Volstead Act’, as it was called because of its Author J Volstead, was put into effect. This act prohibited the manufacture and selling of ‘intoxicating liquors’. Intoxicating liquor was defined as any drink containing more than 0.5% of alcohol. With the exceptions of alcohol made uses such as medicine and industrial uses.

Anti- drinking issues went as far back as 1830, when a group of women situated in the West and Midlands known as the rural areas set up a group called the “Christian Women Temperance Union”. These women were predominantly Christians especially Methodists and white Anglo-Saxon protestants. They blamed alcohol for all types of diseases such as cholera, epilepsy, fever and murder. They started off with illustrated publications to express their views on drinking. Then by 1876 they had their own ‘National Temperance Almanac’ One passage that was issued in “Everybody’s Magazine” in 1917 was as follow ; Everyman who works on land to produce drink instead of bread is a loss in winning the war, and worse he may mean a dead soldier.”

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By 1893 another anti-drinking group was formed called “Anti-Saloon League”. They were also women situated in the rural areas. Their arguments were that fathers were spending all the money in the saloon on drink and their families had to suffer for it. The two real consequences were financial; where children and wives went without adequate education, clothing and food. The other consequence was father’s behaviour. Men drinking lead to more aggressive behaviour and a danger for children if alcohol was in the home. The behaviour leads to social problems. For e.g. men fighting in the saloon, which lead to ...

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