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.