To Prohibition or Not to Prohibition

When thinking of the 1920’s one might think about a time of Prohibition.  A constitutional amendment (18th Amendment) that was passed in 1919 that banned the sale, manufacture, and transportation of intoxicating liquors.  As grown adults, most of us don’t prefer to be told how we should live our lives or what we should or shouldn’t partake in, yet the government believed it was acting in the best interest of the public.  Many people still wanted to drink, hence leaving a very large window of opportunity for a new type of crime called “bootlegging”.  If you don’t believe me just do a little research of Chicago’s major crime syndicate Al Capone.

The government lost millions of dollars in potential revenue from taxes that could have been charged on alcohol, which I’m sure they were glad to start recouping in 1933 when they passed the 21st Amendment that ratified the 18th Amendment.  Speakeasies started popping up all over the country during the time of prohibition and the government didn’t have the man power nor the capital to enforce prohibition on a large scale.  The “bathtub” booze was officially on the rise!

The “Dry” campaign and its well-structured propaganda and lobbying efforts easily combated any opposition brought by the “Wets” toward the 18th Amendment.  The “Wet” opposition was slow moving because it was hard to combat the truths behind better health, thrift, and morality that prohibition brought.  The “Wets” foundation of argument was that the 18th Amendment infringed on the right of the states.  With prohibition came an instant decrease in overall crime, and workers were bringing their paychecks home to their families instead of spending them at the bar.  Workers worked more efficiently because of their new-found sobriety and fewer work days were missed due to being drunk.

The people of the 1920’s were a scared people.  They were scared of an uncertain future for a country divided.  A country divided on so many moral and ethical issues and I’m sure they believed that alcohol was a “crutch” that wasn’t going to help bring our nation closer together!  I realize that there were many benefits to our nation with prohibition, but I still would have been against it.  The government cannot hold the nation’s hand for every decision that we may take the wrong path on.  As grown adults in a “free” America we need to take personal responsibility for our actions and be allowed the choice and freedom to do so!

Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: A History of the United States. Pearson, 2013.



8 thoughts on “To Prohibition or Not to Prohibition

  1. Very nice blog! I enjoyed reading it. I will have to agree on you about American should be taking responsibility of our actions and choice of freedom. I feel if the government had more say about our freedom and choice then they do now, more Americans would rebel even worse.

  2. I really enjoyed your point about how as adults we don’t like being told what we can do. This is a very true statement but i feel the government rides a very fine line when it comes to passing laws that might control what we do. Like in the twenties the flappers, which are were women you lived a more open life style but drinking, dancing and smoking, helped encourage others women to stand up so they had the right to have control over their body’s.

  3. Your blog presented a very good argument. I agree entirely that, as adults, people should have the ability to make their own decisions and should have to accept their mistakes when they make them. While prohibition undeniably helped public health to some degree, I do not believe it is right for the government to take peoples’ choices away and take matters so far into their own hands. In moderation, alcohol is not innately harmful, many studies even linking light drinking to lower risk of certain health conditions, taking away the argument that prohibition can be justified for the betterment of public health. I personally feel the government was unjustified in taking this much control over its citizens’ abilities to choose, and agree with many points you made in your blog.

  4. Although I do not agree with prohibition, I think that some aspects of it were beneficial. The crime decrease for starters seems to be a positive outcome from the band of alcohol. Secondly, the overall family life moral increased due to everyone being sober and less worrying about money because the workers whole paycheck was brought home instead of being spent on alcohol. I agree with you; the government should not hold the nation’s hand for every decision. Great blog!

  5. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I especially appreciate the fact that you discussed the “Dry” and the “Wets” in detail when it came to understanding what each one stood for. I also agree with you that it is not right for the government to take away someone’s right to do something, like drink. I can’t imagine if this were to happen in our time. People would be outraged. Telling people who are of age, that they are not allowed to drink would not go over well whatsoever.

  6. Great blog post!
    I enjoyed your comments on the 18th Amendment and the “Dry” campaign. I think it is interesting how you mentioned that today adults would not enjoy being told how to live their life, in the sense of not being able to purchase alcohol. I could not imagine what our society would do today if the 18th Amendment were to be passed. Americans would consider all of their “basic” rights being stripped of them if that were the case. Today there is more of an issue on which age you should be allowed to purchase alcohol, whether it be 18 or 21, not the issue of it being downright illegal. That to me is very interesting to consider.

  7. I agree that the people of the 1920’s were scared, as they should have been. With World War One just having ended and so many changes occurring like prohibition and women gaining the right to vote they were a scary time. But would they have been more scared if they knew what would come in the next twenty years? I believe they would’ve been. If they knew that in less than two decades they would be at war again they would’ve ended prohibition sooner to tax and gain revenue off of to prepare, and if they knew the scale of it they would put a hefty tax on it.

  8. Great blog post! I really enjoyed your point about the tax loss that the government lost out on during prohibition. I think it would be interesting to see how much money exactly the government could have potentially obtained during the time period. You explanation of the wets and drys was thorough and clear which was helpful as a reader. I also like that you alluded that the country was fairly divided on the issue, as I agree. Awesome blog.

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