On December 18, 1917, the eighteenth amendment was approved by congress. Nearly two years later, the thirty-six states needed to ratify the amendment had done so. By 1920, prohibition had gone into effect by the creation of the Volstead Act. Our nation faced mixed views on this new law. Many “wets” believed that it violated our constitutional rights. Some believed that it interfered with their personal freedoms; others believed that it gave the government too much power. “Drys,” on the other hand, thought that temperance was good for a person’s health, thrift, and morals. Visions of America states that, “Wartime propaganda claimed that ‘German brewers in this country have rendered thousands of men inefficient,” (Keene 636). The “wet” campaign believed that in order to have a better war effort, the male citizens of the United States needed to be sober to focus.
Some of the more positives aspects of prohibition were more productive workers, families had more savings, and workers missed less days. These may seem like very simple things, but for many families it pulled them out of poverty. By putting alcohol aside, workers couldn’t show up to work drunk, or spend all of their money on some drinks. Temperance made workers more responsible. Another positive aspect was the individuality women gained from bar hoping. While this was illegal at the time, women gained a new sense of confidence because they were able to go out late. Before this, it was only usual for prostitutes to enter saloons
Despite the many positive aspects of prohibition, there were still many negatives as well. Prohibition also raised crime rates, speakeasies were created, and it created conflict between citizens of the United States. Many Americans would illegally brew alcohol in their homes, or trafficked it into the states. Bringing alcohol into the United States during Prohibition was called bootlegging. The infamous Al Capone become popular with Chicago’s underworld for bootlegging. Speakeasies became secret bars where people could sneak out to drink. It was very popular as stated in the text, “Illicit drinking became fashionable among the young urban elite,” (Keene 637). As for the inner conflict of our country, instead of coming together to support the war effort, Americans; at this time; fought about this unnecessary problem.
Given these fine points, I have to believe that Prohibition was not the right thing to do during this time period. Overall, I feel as if the government shouldn’t have the right to take away one of our freedoms. Although not exclusively stated in the Constitution, the right to be able to drink alcohol should be our own. Americans should have the choice of whether or not they want to have a beer. That is why our country is know as, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Keene, Jennifer D., Saul Cornell, and Edward T. O’Donnell. Visions of America: a history of the United States. third ed., vol. 2, Boston, Person, 2015, pp. 636-37, 2 vols.