Pros and Cons Of Prohibition


         In the 1920’s a wave of religious revivalism swept the United States leading to the increased calls for the temperance movement. It was one of the nation’s longest lasting reform movements. Prohibition in the United States was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, sale, importation, and transportation of alcohol which was a result of the 18th Amendment.

    The reasoning behind the act of prohibition was to help reduce crime. It was suppose to help with tax burden on prisons and to just overall improve the health and hygiene in America. There were some positive effects of prohibition at first such as less domestic violence and overall improving the health of the people. It helped to reduce the public drunkenness and for families to no longer be drinking away their paychecks. It led to more money being spent on consumer goods. Families became more stable during this time and the number of inmates in prisons dropped significantly.

    However, there were a lot of negatives for banning alcohol, which seemed to override all the positives. Although the consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of the prohibition, in then increased shortly after. Alcohol became more and more dangerous to consume. It lead to people breaking the law and finding a way to consume alcohol. Secret bars called speakeasies became popular at this time. Many people were even dying because of the alcohol. Crime then began to increase and prisons were becoming crowded. Prohibition had removed a great source of tax revenue which increased government spending. It led to the “drinkers” to switch to other alternatives that were even worse than drinking.

    I don’t believe the government should have passed this type of “moral” legislation because I believe it caused more harm than good. People should be able to decide what they want to do, such as what they consume in their bodies. This was not a good thing to pass reasoning that it was repealed shortly after explains it all. It caused more disruption in America with all the crime and people sneaking around and breaking the law. Americans found a way around weather it was getting into secret bars or getting a prescription letting them obtain a certain amount of alcohol.

Keene, Jennifer. Cornell, Saul, and O’Donnell, Edward T.

Visions of America: A History of the United States, Volume 2, 2nd ed.

5 thoughts on “Pros and Cons Of Prohibition

  1. I agree with your points on why this type of “moral” legislation should not have been passed. The cons of Prohibition outweighed the pros by a lot. The drys had the right idea in wanting to increase productivity in the U.S. and help out families, but the increased crime and Black Market was way worse. Even by making something illegal, it won’t stop everybody. The right to drink is a personal freedom. There should have been other ways to help out those with a serious alcohol problem instead of trying to ban everyone from consuming alcohol.

  2. I totally agree with your position on prohibition though I’m not sure how much crime actually went down because of it. If you think about there is a very small minority of the population that get drunk and then go commit crime, it would make a lot more sense to not get drunk before you do something illegal so you have a higher probability of escape. Most crime done by a bunch of stoned people is just them running around and doing stupid things.

  3. I really enjoyed learning about the very controversial topic of the banning of alcohol. It was very surprising to see that a lot of the cons of prohibition outweighed the goods! We think about today and we usually don’t link alcohol to being a good thing. This blog was a real eye opener to how alcohol is a benefit to people and is a right of the people. I agreed 100% with your thesis statement saying that this type of “moral” legislation should not have been passed. After reading your blog it was apparent that alcohol wasn’t the problem of this time period.

  4. It’s really ironic in Michigan that the prohibition of recreational Marijuana is no longer. We can apply these same upsides and downsides to prohibition to the current atmosphere within our state. The tax revenue that will be created will bring on money for the state like we have never seen. This is comparable to the loss of tax revenue the county faced with prohibition.

  5. I completely agree with your take on prohibition and moral laws. These types of laws shouldn’t be passed going forward so that repeats of the disaster of the prohibition law in the 1920’s. It’s also good that you showed the positive effects first before tearing down and showing negative effects of Prohibition, it’s always great to show both sides of an argument.

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