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No Prohibitions, No Problem? Essay

1380 words - 6 pages

After the Revolutionary War, alcohol consumption increased as did the idea to reform America’s growing consumption. The Temperance Movement of the 1800s attempted to regulate the availability of alcohol by forming groups like the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the American Temperance Society. These groups helped the eventual ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment. Section one of the Eighteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution states, “After one year from ratification of this article the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors, within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States, and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof, for beverage purposes, is hereby prohibited” (Boyer, et al.). This meant it was illegal to manufacture, transport, or sell alcoholic beverages in the United States. Fourteen years after ratification, the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed in December of 1933 when the Twenty First Amendment was ratified. In the short time Prohibition was a national law, the United States underwent a profound transformation. Most people in favor of Prohibition believed that passing the Eighteenth Amendment and laws like it would boost several flailing industries. Prohibition caused many industries to decline, showed the deep seeded corruption of government officials and law enforcement, and generated a crime wave that propagated gangsters of the 1920s. The Eighteenth Amendment, the Volstead Act, and other laws like it provided loopholes that were easy for the savvy to take advantage of. Although many of the reasons for the passage of Prohibition were considered noble, most of the effects did more harm than good.
Prohibition had a profound effect. When the Eighteenth Amendment was ratified, supporters of Prohibition believed there would be a rise in entertainment industries as Americans looked for new forms of amusement. None of this happened. Instead, amusement and entertainment industries declined, restaurants failed, and theater revenues declined (Lerner). Besides Prohibition’s negative effects on the entertainment industry, it was devastating to breweries and distilleries throughout America. In 1916, there were 1300 breweries producing beer in the U.S.; 10 years later, there were none. The 318 wineries of 1914 became the 27 of 1925. Federal tax revenues from distilled spirits dropped from $316 million to less than $13 million, and revenue from fermented liquors from $117 million to nearly nothing (Blocker). This economic downturn was unexpected until the passing of the Volstead Act. While the Eighteenth Amendment did not clearly define the term intoxication, the Volstead Act defined it as containing 0.05% of alcohol by volume, therefore prohibiting nearly all alcoholic beverages (Blocker). This act included a significant loophole that the Eighteenth Amendment also had.
The main problem with the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act was the many...

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