To drink or not to drink?

The year’s right before the twenties were a time of change for the people of the time. Women’s right to vote was on the rise as well as thousands of immigrants coming overseas to live and work in America. But there is one event that touched everyone in some form or another in 1919, the Eighteenth Amendment better known as prohibition.

Many believed that the prohibition would produce positive outcomes. The idea of those who supported the prohibition was that consuming alcohol should be a taboo and those who drink are bad people who cause problems either in public or at home. Furthermore, buying alcohol was a waste of money due to the lack thereof due to the 1919 depression. Billy Sunday stated in one of his speeches to “get on the water wagon; get on for the sake of your wife and babies, and hit the booze a blow.”(Keene, Cornell, O’Donnell 21.2.2).

On the other had many argued that the prohibition was a violation of American rights, what right did congress have to tell hard working men that they can’t have a beer to take the load off the hard work day? The outlaw of alcohol did not make it go away rather; many drank illegally though speakeasies or bootleggers. Those of the upper class tended to make their own booze at home. In the long run the prohibition was a failed attempt of congress to forcefully change the American way of life.

Although the thought behind prohibition was intended to improve American society, in the end people havetheir right at the end of the day to choose if they want to drink. The rights of the people should always come first regardless of the situation. Even today every now and again the thought of reinstating prohibition comes up. However, it didn’t take hold then so it’s safe to say it wouldn’t in this day and age.   


Keene, Jennifer D., et al. Visions of America: a History of the United States. Pearson, 2017.

11 thoughts on “To drink or not to drink?

  1. When the post said that the years right before the twenties were a time of change both economically and socially for the American public, it really meant it. There was an influx of immigrants entering the country and women were finally gaining suffrage. Prohibition was also just coming into the spotlight. It is crazy to think how at one-time alcohol consumption was banned. The prohibition movement affected people both mentally, physically and economically. Many people who had become addicted to alcohol had to face the symptoms of not being able to get a drink and quench their thirst. Some outcomes of prohibition were unexpected, and soon it became apparent that the prohibition movement would soon disappear and be no more.

    1. I agree it is crazy to think that one act of congress could have such a large impact on Americans. I never even thought about the physical and mental aspect that you mentioned. You made a very good point.

  2. Any act of congress should have a large impact on Americans. After all, congress is in charge of the country. Although I do not condone drinking until one is drunk and no longer in control of one’s self, prohibition did limit a person’s own freedom. Give a person freedom and they won’t know what to do with it. Take a person’s freedom away and they will try anything to get it back.

    1. I do agree that drinking until you are not in control of your actions is not ideal, I myself don’t condone it myself. However, what right does anyone have to take the freedom of another?

  3. Many topics throughout history have been debated, and Prohibition is one of them. One side believed that the government had no right in taking away alcohol while the other half believed that prohibition would be beneficial. There were ways to get around prohibition which was a flaw in the system. People were still consuming alcohol, but they would have to do it illegally. Secret bars, known as speakeasies, began to arise. Izzy Einstein, a federal agent, did a small experiment where he found out how long it took for him to find alcohol in various places. These times were extremely short. Prohibition wasn’t as effective as the government wanted it to be, and it eventually began to crumble. Overall, Prohibition had many flaws that led to its downfall.

  4. Prohibition was a widely debated topic in 1919. Like you said, a lot of people viewed drinking as negative and harmful and agreed with prohibition. However, there was an opposing side who believed that an idea such as prohibition was ridiculous and took away a basic and simple right and personal choice for the people. I believe that it is very true in your post where you state “On the other had many argued that the prohibition was a violation of American rights, what right did congress have to tell hard working men that they can’t have a beer to take the load off the hard work day?” Of course hardworking men should be able to simply enjoy this when they get home and relax. However, in the defense of prohibition, there was also many people who didn’t just “have a few after a hard day of work,” but instead they went way over the limit until they got drunk, and this is what was causing problems for families and the home.

  5. This period of American history was filled with the discussion of “rights”. Being able to have a cold one with the boys was something that was fought for with a stronger push than the right to vote. Although less significant of course, prohibition was there and gone so quickly due to the voice of the men. It was louder. It was very loud at that. There were many rallies, and people voicing their opinion. It was also very quiet. There was an underground sale of alcohol very similar to the underground sale of marijuana in the previous years. This was a problem as laws were broken non-stop, and people were going to drink regardless of what laws were placed against it. It was something that if legalized could help the economy of America as alcohol was a substance in high demand.

  6. The prohibition act was a big controversy in the early 1900’s. It brought about the big crime called bootlegging. Those who did this believed they had the right to drink and nothing was going to stop them. Taking away alcohol was not a smart move by the government because it contradicted America being the land of the free. The lifting of this ban was a positive for America and proved that the people did have a voice.

  7. I agree with and like when you said, “In the long run the prohibition was a failed attempt of congress to forcefully change the American way of life.” I had similar ideas when going over the blog post and thought money played a big role in this time era. What a time it would be with where someone could tell you on Federal level it was illegal to drink alcohol.

  8. It seems in this time era, it was one “milestone” in way after another! It would have been an interesting time to be alive with all of the changes that were occurring especially how not everyone agreed and they really voiced it. I personally feel the government really had the best of intentions but you can’t change something that is part of the majorities everyday life, which was alcohol. I think by allowing restrictions would have been the better way to go abouts it. With how the society was having drastic changes, I just feel like it was an unnecessary time to try to ban alcohol.

  9. I personally agree with the current drinking age and alcohol being legal, but I feel like people abuse it. I’ve lost a friend to a drunk driver who was intoxicated over the allotted limit, and I feel sometimes these drunk driving accidents can be prevented. I completely understand it’s a person’s right to drink, but at what cost?

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