On January 16, 1920 the full effect of prohibition was upon the United States. The Senate voted in favor of prohibition the day the 18thAmendment was proposed in 1917. By 1919 the needed number of states adopted it. To begin I would like to clarify a common misconception about the 18thAmendment, the amendment does not prohibit the consumption of alcohol but rather the sale, manufacturing of, importation and the transportation thereof. Prohibition in the 1920s, like nearly all legislation has both pro’s and con’s.
To begin with a pro, general crime in the United States decreased. Though general crime decreased, organized crime (for example, gang activity) grew more popular and advanced during the time of prohibition. Crime could be seen as both pro’s and con’s when analyzed more in depth. In my opinion crime should be classified as more of a con when looking at it through the lense of prohibition. I believe this for the reason that underground crime developed drastically (in my opinion) during the time alcohol was outlawed in the United States. Although it was against the law many people still participated in illegal activity because it benefited them. This pertains to current legislation, giving support that even though something is outlawed people will use means to access the things that will benefit them.
Another pro, in my opinion (that may not be widely seen as a pro) is that of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The WCTO was founded officially in 1874 but had a larger voice during prohibition. This is a pro because it was one of the first women’s unions that had traction in the United States where women were taking on a role previously unheard of. I am a firm believer in Unions and strong women and I believe that those two things together was a huge step forward in our country. Another con in my opinion is how truly controversial prohibition was. The country was fairly divided on the issue which in turn separated the country into wets and drys, those against and in favor of the law. This is a definite con because in the words of President Abraham Lincoln (quoting the bible) “A house divided against itself, cannot stand.”
When asked if the government should have passed the Amendment on the basis of it being a moral type of legislation I have conflicting opinions. I believe that the Amendment abided by the standing constitution and was legally sound for the most part when it comes to the right of the Congress to enact it. However, I also believe that the legislatures thought that it would help improve the country but morally I don’t think that it should have passed. Due to the Amendment trying to fix social issues, crime, burdens on the government, corruption and much more I believe that alcohol was more of a scapegoat than the solution. Personally I don’t believe that politicians during the time wanted to look deeper into the situation to truly find the root of the problem and used alcohol as means to try and fix the issues with a band aid approach. I addition to my previous thought I believe it interfered with personal rights of citizens. Unfortunately I believe it was an instance where the government walked on thin ice and got away with it. The 18thAmendment was repealed with the 21st(Amendment) in 1933.
In conclusion, I believe that prohibition was a positive thing in our countries history. I believe this not because of the illegality of alcohol but rather a time our country has learned from. There are things we learned during the time that we can apply now and in the future to help us improve as a nation.