Prohibition- 1920’s


Prohibition: The action of forbidding something, especially by law. (Oxford University Press, 2019)
The 18th Amendment went into effect in 1920. Which made it illegal to sell, manufacture, or transport intoxicating liquors. Even though all except 2 states voted in favor of the 18th Amendment, there were still people who did not agree. This lead to a big disagreement between neighbors, friends, and even family members.

“Wet” vs “Dry” was the big disagreement in the United States. The “Wets” did not agree with the 18th amendment, compared to the “Drys” were for the Prohibition of liquors. There were positive and negative elements on both sides. To every story, event, disagreement, and matter there is always more than one side. As well as positive and negatives to each solution or scenario. Those who wanted the United States to be “Dry” (no liquor). From their viewpoint, they saw how if liquor was not so easily accessible fewer people would drink, and people would drink less. With the hopes, of people spending more time with their families instead of going to the bars. Sitting at home drinking/getting drunk and ignoring the rest of the family. Sometimes alcohol causes aggressive behavior. With alcohol being illegal, domestic violence had the possibility of decreasing.

On the other hand, many people were dependent on alcohol. It was their way of soothing the pain, being able to ignore the world for a bit. These people were not in favor of the 18th amendment; They wanted to keep the United States “Wet”. Not everyone who wanted to keep their alcohol and liquor was alcoholics.
Reasons, why they wanted to keep their alcohol:
-Freedom; They thought it was their right to drink what they wanted when they wanted. The people didn’t think the government should have that much control over their daily routine.
-Simple Enjoyment; For hundreds of years, alcohol has been a drink for celebrations.
-Protection; Many families did not want their teenagers to have access to alcohol, and be getting into trouble.

So some would say the alcohol should be illegal. However, making something illegal will not make the problem go away. A problem had arisen because the alcohol was illegal the regular alcohol was not available, people would find be buying them from wherever they could find it. With the government not involved it was not being regulated or tested. The sellers were not held accountable for making and selling safe products. Sometimes the buyer would get more than they had bargained for.

In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt became president and made the motion for the 21st amendment to be made. Leading to the repeal of the 18th amendment, and make alcohol legal once again.

Was it right for the government to pass this “moral” legislation? I do not have a direct answer. I believe there needs to be a balance. The government should provide structure for the people, but should not be able to control all aspects of people’s life. The people should be able to have a say in what they do with their own life.

15 thoughts on “Prohibition- 1920’s

  1. I completely agree that making something illegal does not fix the issue. We can translate this issue into modern times with the legalization of marijuana. Although, in this case, I do not believe that making something legal solves the problem. There will always be people who cannot live without their preferred substance, and the government will not be able to prevent it. However, if the government has a way to somewhat control the problem (via regulations and things alike), I think that it will lessen the negative aspects of the issue. Great post, Leah!

    1. Mackenzie, I like how you connected the recent legalization of marijuana to prohibtion in the 1920’s. I agree that legalizaling marijuana certainly isn’t going to solve the issue. However, I believe that legalizing marijuana doesn’t mean more people are going to smoke it simply because before it was legalized, people still found ways to get acess to the substance. Similarly, like Leah said, people still found ways to purchase alcohol even after the 18th admendment made it illegal.

    2. I really like how you compared our current situation involving the legalization of marijuana. I do feel it’s very similar to what the prohibition age would have been like as far as the government and citizens being torn between it being illegal or legal. I also would agree that making it legal has helped to lessen the negative aspects just as the 21st amendment helped turn around the negative aspects to alcohol consumption in the 1920s.

  2. Leah, you did a great job explaining why the “Drys” were all for prohibition and why the “Wets” were against it. Although times were different back in the 1920’s and alcohol was viewed differently than it is today, I still don’t think it was right for the government to make alcohol illegal. I agree that making alcohol illegal will not fix the problem because people are still going to find ways to purchase it. I also don’t think it was right because of the freedom aspect. People should have the right to freely drink alcohol if they wish to do so (if they are of age).

    1. i agree, and back then bars were associated with prostitution, where political machines hung out, and many other negatives that came from them. Thinking with the elimination of alcohol would get rid of the bars where they served it, thus the government thought the issues associated with them would vanish as well. But you hit the hammer on the nail when you said that people will always find a way to buy and consume the alcohol and that is what happened. leading to the passing of the 21 amendment.

  3. very well written, i agree with your last statement that “people should be able to have a say in their own life.”
    this is very true, although there should be standards and regulations that have to be followed, you should have the right to enjoy a glass of beer with your meal if you please, or wine with dinner. With the 18th amendment prohibiting alcohol, being told not to do something makes you want to do it more, and that is what happened. On top drinking in secret bars breaking the new law, moonshine was being made, which was far worse and created more problems than when alcohol was legal because there were not any regulations that had to be followed.

  4. The use of sources throughout your essay and the opinions you took throughout were great. First giving a definition of prohibition then jumping right into wets vs. drys was very good organizational skills and it made the essay flow better. Then finishing up with moral legislation and the right of people to have direction in their own lives and make choices wrapped up the blog extremely well, great work!

  5. I think that “morals” really played to the defense of the 18th ammendment. However, by prohibiting the use and sale of alcohol, they were taking away the People’s decision of what is right or wrong for them. This essentially violates the freedoms America was built upon.

    1. Yes, I agree with you. It was wrong for the government to take away the people’s freedom, and therefore making the decision of what is right and what is wrong for the people. This leads me to the question though, where does the government find the line of having laws to keep people safe, and having laws that take away the people’s freedom?

  6. I agree with your last statements, “I believe there needs to be a balance. The government should provide structure for the people, but should not be able to control all aspects of people’s life. The people should be able to have a say in what they do with their own life.” Prohibition led to two completely different sides Wets and Drys and neither wanted to budge on their belief. I feel the government was trying to regulate liquor in a way that seemed easiest to them and most appealing to everyone else. However, when you take something away from someone the desire to have it is that much more enticing to have. I’d have to say the government making alcohol illegal wasn’t the wisest decision because it takes away from our everyday freedoms as Americans to chose what we want to do with our lives.

  7. I am in complete agreement with your statement of how the government should keep a balance, but not in all aspects of our lives. I think sometimes they go a little too far in trying to control our lives. I would agree with their ban on alcohol more if it were safety reasons, but one of the main reasons were so people would spend more time with their family. Making something illegal will not change that. If people want to spend their time with leisure activities, they will. I do agree that alcohol was/is a big factor in other areas as well, such as domestic violence and aggressive behavior, and with making it illegal those areas would decrease but that is a big “what if”. I thought you had a very clear statement and a very good flow! I enjoyed your blog!

    1. Thank you for your input! I agree that is a big “what if”. People for sure will make time for the things that are important to them. I also think banning alcohol for family reasons isn’t enough of a reason. Don’t get me wrong I believe family is very important, but it shouldn’t be the government’s job to tell the people to give up alcohol so they can be with their family. Because some people may not have had a family to spend time with.

      1. Exactly! If we did that then we should make McDonald’s illegal and other fast food chains because it can cause obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and so on. We have free will so I believe we should use it, the law is just supposed to give us boundaries.

  8. I really like the points you made here. I agree with the statement “making it illegal, will not solve the problem.” People will always find a way to do something weather it is legal or not. I also liked where you talked about how people didn’t want the government to be able to control their daily routine. Freedom is important to people and I think you are completely right with your last statement how there needs to be a balance. Very well said!

  9. This post was very well written and did a great job explaining the prohibition era. Prohibition was not the answer to the problems the United States was having with alcohol. No matter how hard you try people will always find a way to drink if they want to no matter if it is legal or not. It was also helpful that you included the reasons why people didn’t want prohibition because, to those people, it wasn’t just about needing the alcohol to get drunk and ruin lives. They wanted it because it was their freedom and they enjoyed it. It is important to know this because in many peoples mind they wanted to keep it for other reasons. This post was informative and gave me further insight into the topic of prohibition.

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