Prohibition: a Conflict of Faith Versus Freedom

The United States of America is at conflict. World War 1 is over, yet the nation is at unrest. It is a fight of faith versus freedom. Wet versus dry. Does the government hold the right to limit the sale and consumption of alchohol, or is this the very tyranny the United States so desparetely wanted to escape.  These are the very issues and questions that the U.S. citizens struggled with about Prohibition.

What was Prohibiton? Prohibition was a movement that resulted in the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment, this amendment banned the sale, transport, and production of intoxicating liquors. Intoxicating liquor was classified by Congress in the Volstead Act of  1919 as an beverage with more than .5 percent of  intoxicating alchohol. This brings the question about “was Prohibition good or bad?”

Prohibition was handled as almost any other topic people would see today. It was protested and fought for by people both for, or against it. The temperance movement  fought strongly for Prohibition. They believed that breweries and alchohol were creating a society of inefficient men. They used arguments stating that it poorly affected peoples health and morals. Famous evangelist and former professional baseball player, Billy Sunday, was a huge face for the temperance movement. He preached on the evils of alchohol, and that it should be abstained from to protect peoples families from its influence.  The temperance movement had the goal to dry up breweries so the became known as the “dry movement.” As all good rivals are, their protestors were know as “wet opposition.”

Wet opposition struggled with getting their stance together in the beginning. The dry movement came about with arguments that alchohol harmed the morals and health of the American people. Because their slow efforts, Prohibition went into full effect in 1920. It wasn’t until 13 years later, in 1933, that the 21st amendment was ratified. This amendment repealed the 18th Amendment and all the hard work the temperance movement put into making alchohol illegal.

During the struggle of Prohibition there were many conflicts that came to mind. The temperence movement did not want a nation of slothful, inefficient people that only lived life under the influence of an alchoholic buzz. They were convicted by faith that alchohol was an unmoral substance that should not be used. Since they had such a strong movement, a lot of people had hopped on the bandwagon. Eventually their opposition caught up to them. Those who wished for alchohol to remain legal, thought of it to be perfectly acceptable to come home after a long day of work and relax with a beer. They did not believe it was the governments right to tell the citizens if they can or cannot have alchohol. They believed that if the government was given this much power in this instance, then where would its power end?

Prohibition was a difficult time in our nation, because it caused much moral unrest. People either did believe alchohol should be allowed, or they felt it unfair to feel like they are a criminal for trying to partake in alchohol. Despite the negatives effects of Prohibiton, you do see some positive ones. Prohibition is an awesome time where you could see actual change in our nation. People saw a belief and they fought for it. On both sides of the Prohibition argument, people saw their cause through. That is what America was built upon.

Although you see the work and the movement of the people, were the actions of the government ok? There are so many answers to this question. On one sidew of the coin, we live in a democratic nation. When the government creates policies and laws to help with men’s morality, they start to transfer from a democracy to a dictatorship. However, we cannot stop the thoughts there. The United States is supposed to be run by the people. A nation without a ruler. Ultimately you saw the movement to ba alchohol, by the people, and then action from the government. Once the wet movement gains their ground, the people get what they want again. I don’t feel the government overstepped its bounds, because out was the desires of the people. That is what the United States is supposed to be. For the people, by the people.

Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Pearson, 2017

5 thoughts on “Prohibition: a Conflict of Faith Versus Freedom

  1. Prohibition really did affect many families. Many fathers spent a lot of time drinking. How do you think kids felt about there dad drinking all the time? Did kids get more time to bond with their dad after the ratification of the eighteenth

    1. I definitely think it helped some families bond more with their fathers! Their dad is no longer looking for that alcoholic buzz to make life bearable, but instead enjoying the time with his kids. It could’ve made life at home less hostile, and more caring. However, I don’t think every home would be that way. Many men knew how to get alcohol illegal, so they could have been out late at night searching for their liquor fix. This may have caused men to drift further from their families than they were when alcohol was legal.

  2. I like the fact that you alluded to the idea that the prohibition was a conflict of faith versus freedom. Many ministers and congregations in this time period were so scared that our nation was turning into a bunch of drunks. They would go as far as spreading propaganda claiming that alcohol was unmoral and would condemn their souls.

    1. I too like the fact that you saw the Prohibition movement as a faith vs freedom based change. The government absolutely followed what the majority of the citizens wanted, and that is how democracy should work. Its interesting that we, almost a hundred years later, are voting on the legalization of marijuana on our upcoming ballots. I view this subject to be similar in the fact that I see this as a faith vs freedom fight as well. I personally believe that as with alcohol the taxing and standardization of selling all goods, including marijuana, can be very beneficial to our society.

    2. I think that this is a good example of why Church should be separated from State. Just because the church found drinking to be immoral doesn’t mean everyone will. They should have instead trusted that those with the same beliefs as the Church would follow their views.

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