The Prohibition, or formally known as the 18th amendment, was a time in American history that began in 1920 and lasted for 13 years till December of 1933. It was the ban of the manufacturing, transporting and sales of intoxicating liquors in the United States. Now why would this happen at this time in America, the land of the free, where people come to fulfill their American Dream? There are a few correlating factors to why this happened. First, there were groups pushing hard for the prohibition of alcohol. The first major push was made by the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance Union), and soon to back them up was the Anti-Saloon League. It was said that the Prohibition was going to be the answer to all crime, dieses, and poverty in the United States.
It wasn’t just a random time that the U.S. decided to put a ban on alcohol, even though the “drys” were pushing hard for it. World War I had a significant role in the opening of serious talk against alcohol. A momentary wartime prohibition was enabled by President Wilson in 1917. Its purpose was to save the grain that produces alcohol, to make food for the war. At that time people were starting to question whether or not they should be putting their money and resources into the war efforts instead of the booze. The Drys argued that the saloons were starting to take over men. They would go there after work and spend all of the money they had earned getting drunk, instead of returning it home to their children and wives. It was viewed by all the opposed alcohol groups, that alcohol was going to be the demise of the United States if something wasn’t done.
The official Prohibition went into effect in 1920. You can say the effects were looked at way differently by whatever side was looking at them. The Drys thought it was great, that families had more money to buy household consumer items, which lead to a booming economy. They thought that work productivity for men was increasing greatly. They looked at America as a healthier, less domestic violent, lower public drunkenness, nation. On the other side of the isle it is looked at quite differently. The Wets argued that it did nothing positive for America. That it encouraged illegal activity and rose teen drinking rates. They also played on to one of the arguments from the Drys. The Drys argued that the Prohibition would help protect women and children, while the Wets said it did the exact opposite because there were so many federal officers around trying to bust illegal bootleg operations that they weren’t even worried about the women and children’s safety. The Drys other argument of a booming economy, also came to a halt when the Great Depression came into view. The Prohibition was finally ended when Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected into office in 1933 after running his campaign on ending Prohibition. It was the 21st amendment that did it, repealing the 18th amendment.
With all of that being said, no I do not believe the government had the right to pass this type of “moral” legislation. The United States is a mixed economy or otherwise known as a free enterprise. It is run for the most part by private ownership and depending on which market, there could be some government regulations. The Prohibition took away the jobs completely of a whole industry and that almost looked like a socialist government to me. Was alcohol abuse a real problem during that age and even now? Yes, I believe it was, but I also believe that smoking too much is a problem and the government never did a prohibition of cigarettes. I say this because even though those two things aren’t the best for your body, being able to choose those things really shows what freedom is in this country. If the Government was to ban smoking as well as alcohol again, where would the line stop. I do not believe that much government involvement in our own personal lives is what we really want. With freedom comes amazing opportunities, but also possibilities for slipups. I am willing to have the risk of messing up myself than to let the government be a part of every private industry.
Keene, Jennifer D., Saul T. Cornell and Edward T. O’Donnell. Visions of America: A History of the United States, Combined Volume, 3/e. Boston: Pearson, n.d.
History.com Staff. (2009). Prohibition. Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/prohibition