During World War I, Congress approved the Eighteenth Amendment in mid-December of 1917, which was when Woodrow Wilson ordered to save grain for food for wartime. The Eighteenth Amendment banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquors (Keene, Cornell,  O’Donnell, p. 637). It wasn’t ratified until early 1919 when 36 states ratified the Eighteenth Amendment, and Rhode Island and Connecticut were the only two states to reject the Eighteenth Amendment. Not only was the Eighteenth Amendment ratified during 1919, but the Volstead Act went into effect as well. The Volstead Act defined any beverage with more than 0.5 percent alcohol as intoxicating liquor and established criminal penalties for manufacturing, transporting, or possession of alcohol (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell, p.637).

Since the ban of selling, manufacturing, and transportation of liquor was in effect until 1933, there were some positive aspects. Workers had been found to be more productive, they could now afford to buy cars, as well as increasing their savings. The Dry’s had claimed that prohibition brought success and wealth to the countries economy and found the prohibition to be good for America. On the other hand, the Wet’s believed prohibition increased the amount of illegal activity and disrespect towards the law. As it was pretty easy to find alcohol in major cities, such as New Orleans and Chicago, and many illegal and secret bars were located throughout the areas.

Although the Eighteenth Amendment banned the sales, manufacturing, and transporting of liquor, it was not illegal to drink. While manufacturing and selling their liquor was illegal, there were sales still, also known as bootlegging, and occurred throughout the years the Eighteenth Amendment was in effect. There was more than just illegal sales and manufacturing as well, smuggling liquor across state lines also occurred. Along with bootlegging came speakeasies, which were stores or nightclubs that sold alcohol. The illegal operations led to a rise of criminal activity, specifically gang violence, and a massacre in 1929, this massacre is known as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and occurred in Chicago.

Over a decade later, the Eighteenth Amendment had been repealed. The Twenty-First Amendment was ratified in 1933 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he immediately asked Congress to repeal prohibition (Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell, p. 638). Even though in the rural South and Midwest, some prohibition statutes remained enforced. In 1930, a couple states passed minimum drinking age laws. The Dry’s claim, that prohibition was good for America gradually weakened as America went into the Great Depression of 1929, a worldwide economic depression.

After reading about the Prohibition, I do not think the government should have passed the Eighteenth Amendment. With the Prohibition in effect, it may have proved that workers have become more productive and could afford more than what they had in previous years, but I don’t believe it was the right decision to ban sales, manufacturing, and transportation, as workers were still allowed to drink. Although alcohol was banned, there were still secret and illegal manufacturers and sellers located within major cities. I also believe that something other than alcohol could have been banned because there were and are worse events occurring that could be banned instead. America also ended up repealing the Eighteenth Amendment just over a decade later in 1933, and landed the country in a worldwide economic depression, known as the Great Depression of 1929.

 

Keene, Jennifer D., Cornell, Saul., O’Donnell, Edward T., “Chapter 16.” Visions of America; A History of the United States, Pearson. 2013. pp. 636-638.

History.com Staff. “Prohibition”. 2009. A+E Networks. http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition