The Eighteenth Amendment was approved on December 18, 1917 and went into full effect in 1920 after the mandatory 36 states had ratified it. This law banned intoxicating liquors from being made, sold, and transported (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell 637). Can you imagine anything like this even coming close to passing in today’s courts? The two sides to this Amendment were called the “wets” and “drys”. As you probably can tell by the name the “wets” were for the legalization of alcohol and the “drys” were not.
There are always two sides to every story and an argument that defends each. The “drys” would argue that prohibition was a very positive thing in the U.S.. They claimed that the prohibition helped the economy to grow stronger. They stated that with alcohol out of the equation workers were now more productive which led them to be able to afford cars, furniture, and a healthier savings account. I would say that another more subtle positive in the prohibition is that it became the norm for high class women to drink with men in illegal bars. Despite the fact that these women were breaking the law they were also gaining some ground in terms of their rights.
Prohibition brought along with it a lot of negative factors. Citizens began to illegally make, drink, and distribute alcohol. The “wets” were given a lot of arguing material with the actions of the U.S. people, they stated that prohibition was being disrespected as a law because it was becoming socially acceptable for Americans to commit a crime with the purchase of alcohol (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell 638). Also, because people were creating their own alcohol it was argued that the people especially teens were in danger from drinking contaminated moonshine. Speakeasies were also generally run by the mob so it could be a very dangerous place for people of all ages to hang out.
Although I do not drink I think that the government totally overstepped their bounds when passing this law. Morality is different for everyone and it is not the government’s job to pass a law saying whether something is moral or not. Sure drinking can be dangerous if done irresponsibly, but banning it altogether is just asking people to break the law. Also, by trying to make the country more moral and taking away everyone’s alcohol the government unintentionally created citizens that were more than willing to break the law to get their hands on the substance.
The prohibition led to many illegal activities that took place just under everyone’s noses. In an effort to make alcohol illegal the government made it fashionable to go to illegal bars and the mob thrived. There is definitely a reason why the prohibition is not still around today.
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. 636-638, 2 vols.