In the modern-day United States, us citizens get to decide what we can and can not do, to an extent. If you are over the age of twenty-one, you can go out to the bar on a Friday night to have a couple of drinks with your friends to watch the game or to just talk. These are basic human rights, if you want to do this you can. In the beginning of the 1920s, the U.S. government ratified the 18th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, which banned the manufacture, transportation and sale of intoxicating liquors, ushered in a period in American history known as Prohibition. Many people at this time thought this was morally wrong to do. There were many pros and many cons to prohibition, but in the end, was it all worth it?
The cons of prohibition were many people still wanted to drink, it’s hard to enforce a law on millions of people. We see this today, people under the age of twenty-one still find a way to get their hands-on alcohol. In the beginning, there was a decrease in crime because people weren’t intoxicated and making terrible decisions, but the Prohibition era encouraged the rise of criminal activity associated with bootlegging. Bootlegging was the illegal production or distribution of liquor. People began to smuggle alcohol from other countries like Canada or from somewhere overseas, soon enough people discovered their own way of producing alcohol. The government also lost millions of dollars that could have been made on alcohol taxes.
On the other hand, there were some pros to prohibition, the crime rate dropped drastically. When people are consuming alcohol, we know that people tend to not make the best decisions, so without alcohol, there would be less crimes and a lot less bar fights. The health of people can improve when not consuming alcohol. Alcohol can do damage to people’s kidneys and livers and can eventually lead to death. Workers brought their paychecks home to their families instead of the bar, alcohol is expensive. Workers also worked more efficiently, and workers missed fewer days because they weren’t too drunk.
The United States government made the choice to establish the 18th Amendment to try and help people with alcohol abuse and to help them spend their money wisely, but in the end, it just made more problems. The U.S. proposed the 21st Amendment which would repeal the 18th Amendment and end Prohibition in 1933. Prohibition was morally wrong, and the U.S. government should not have tried to force some people’s way of living. Every should have a choice on what they decide to spend their money on or what they decide to do with their Friday night. Was prohibition a good thing for our nation? I think it caused more issues and created more chaos than good.
Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: A History of the United States. Pearson, 2017.