A. Plan of the Investigation
To what extent did the 18th amendment lead to the rise of organized crime? The focus of this study centers on those against prohibition whom sought out alternative forms of alcohol production; thus leading to the emergence of organized crime. To determine the extent of the 18th amendment’s contribution on the rise of organized crime, this investigation will examine how the amendment’s regulations led to the creation of an illegal market, corruption in government, and a vast criminal enterprise. The amendment itself and several other accounts will be analyzed for their purpose, value, and limitations in regard to the rise of organized crime due to the 18th amendment; an issue still prevalent in modern American society.
B. Summary of Evidence
Ratified by both the largest number of states and the largest percentage of states in history, the eighteenth amendment prohibited the manufacture, sale, export, and import of alcoholic beverages in the United States (Colvin 450). Though prohibition did create a vast drop in alcohol consumption in its beginning years, an illegal market of bootlegging soon began to spike consumption rates. As a means of bypassing high taxes on alcohol, bootleg liquor was sold much cheaper than legal alcohol (Allsop 25). By 1930, bootlegging had become much more efficiently organized due to criminals who turned the operations into a full-fledged illicit industry, creating an estimated 10,000 fully operational speakeasies (Allsop, 33). Commonly referred to as the Volstead Act, this amendment not only created an increasingly profitable illegal market, but also provided for an increased strength in federal enforcement – specifically the Prohibition Bureau (Abadinsky 90). With the employment of unfit persons based upon political patronage, this bureau soon became notorious for its corruption due to its homicidal records (Abadinsky 90). Soon corruption spread throughout all forms of government. In 1928 Fred Palm of Lansing, Michigan was given life imprisonment for possessing a pint of gin; in 1929 an Illinois housewife and her husband were clubbed by a deputy sheriff searching for liquor; in 1928, an innocent insurance agent was killed during a Chicago raid (Allsop, 36). Chicago itself became the center of the illegal market of alcohol production created by prohibition beginning with the infamous gangster Al Capone’s rise to power. Capone and others easily could afford to buy legal immunity by administering bribes to police and politicians; practically paying off every law enforcement agent and politician in the districts in which he operated his illegal businesses (Sullivan, 149). This illegal market in effect led to both high demand and high competition; often encouraging communication between gang leaders, which commonly led to conflict (Abadinsky 91). With this surge of violence, Prohibition thus began serving as a training ground for gang involved businesses of gambling and prostitution as John...