The Prohibition was the governments attempt to outlaw production, sale, and shipment of alcohol and any intoxicating beverages across the country. Enforcing a liquor ban was in hope of reducing the number of crimes associated with immigrants in America. As I will later discuss that it did not reduce crime rate, but the Prohibition did cause workers to become more efficient by not spending all their money at saloons. People were able to actually start saving for their future.
The Anti-Saloon league was a key group during this time that fought for the government to place a ban on liquor. They had support from many women’s groups and progressives (ministers, congregations, ect). These groups were fearful of our nation turning into addicts who could barely function without the high buzz they received from alcohol. Progressives went as far as saying that alcohol was unmoral and would condemn their souls.
The 18th amendment established a liquor ban in 1917, but wasn’t really enforced until in 1919 through the Volstead Act that defined the types of alcoholic beverages that people were prohibited from manufacturing and selling. It never explicitly said that people weren’t allowed to drink alcohol though. Many American’s during this era had actually kept a huge supply of alcohol for their own personal use. Speakeasys (hidden bar) also became very popular as they provided illegal alcoholic beverages and entertainment to patrons. Now that alcohol was being distributed illegally, it was not being regulated and checked for purity. As a result, over 10,000 people died from wood alcohol poisoning while those who did survive were left either blind or with debilitating conditions.
In the process of trying to limit crime by banning liquor, one of the more major negative effects was that it actually caused more crime to happen as seen by the St. Valentine’s day massacre. Bootlegging became very popular during the 20’s as a way for the mob to make money by illegally transporting alcohol from other countries to America.
Another negative effect of the prohibition was the mistrust that the government caused it’s citizens. Many felt prohibition infringed on their rights. Why should the government be allowed to tell them what they can and cannot consume? By 1933, the 21st amendment was ratified causing a repeal to the original 18th amendment that establish a liquor ban. I believe this is as it should be. The United States is a democratic republic, meaning it is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Our voice is the deciding factor, not those whom reside in the government. We must find a balance between securing our nations morality and our civil liberties.
Florien, Daniel. “12 Bad Effects of Prohibition You Should Know.” Patheos, Patheos, 11 Mar. 2009, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unreasonablefaith/2009/03/12-bad-effects-of-prohibition-you-should-know/.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Pearson, 2017