American Prohibition Essay Research Paper

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American Prohibition Essay, Research Paper “After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacturing, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation there of, or the exploitation there of from the US and all its territories subject to the jurisdiction there of for beverage purposes is here by prohibited” (Antony 121). These words marked a change in the American way of life forever. The law was intended to improve America and show the rest of the world that a country could survive without alcohol. Instead it led Americans to distrust and hate government officials. Drinking would become fashionable, and organized crime would take over the cities. Prohibition was therefore an impossible ideal and a disastrous social failure. It is

necessary for the reader to understand what prohibition was intended to do and how it came about in order to determine if it failed. For years, people had toyed with the idea of a “dry county”; yet, until World War I, no one had ever seriously considered it. The leaders of the so called dry movement were organized and patient. They used the war to their advantage and introduced prohibition into Congress (Allen 244). At that time, the country happened to be undergoing a social change (often called the Temperance Movement) in which people grew impatient for immediate results. Americans felt that if a law was worth making, it was worth making immediately (Allen 245). With the issue of the nation’s existence at stake, people did not stop to think through outlawing alcohol; they

felt if it was in the nation’s best interest to prohibit alcohol (27). War time also meant a shortage of good workers and grain (Thorton 71). The dry leaders pushed prohibition stating that prohibition would increase productivity and that sober soldiers were better soldiers (Thornton 73). That rationalization made sense to Americans so it was entirely supported as a simple solution. People all over the nation were excepting prohibition with all too great an ease. It seemed that virtually everyone, but the drinkers and alcohol manufacturers, was behind this law. Congress followed the general census. The 18th Amendment was created to outlaw alcohol use as a beverage (Antony 121). The Senate, in 1917, passed the 18th Amendment after only 13 hours of debate, and in the House it was

passed after one day (Allen 248). The 18th Amendment was ratified January 16, 1922, and soon after the Volstead Act was passed to reinforce it (Kelly 78-80) . . Enacting the law was simple. The real challenge for congress would be to enforce the law. Dry leaders, had been in such a rush to make the prohibition a law, that they had failed to think about what enforcing it would actually mean. John F. Kramer, the first prohibition Commissioner, said, “This law will be obeyed in all cities large and small, and in villages, and where it is not obeyed it will be enforced,” (Allen 248). The first problem of enforcing prohibition was the coast line and land borders, it was all together an 18,700 mile long open door for smugglers (Allen 243). Secondly, “near-beer” was still legal.

And the only way to produce near beer was to make real beer and then remove the alcohol from it. As you can imagine it was excessively easy to forget to remove all the alcohol (Allen 249). Ultimately, the biggest problem of enforcement was the lack of funds. In 1920 there was only 1,520 prohibition agents, and still only 2,836 by the 30’s (Allen 246). At most the agents were paid $50 a week, and it’s not hard to imagine that these under paid workers could be easily tempted at the offer of cash (Allen 246). Professor M.L. Wilson from the Department of Agriculture was absolutely right in his comparison of the prohibition of farming and the prohibition of alcohol, “the attempt to enforce restricted production will be more difficult than the attempt to enforce prohibition. It