Prohibition: An American Failure Essay

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Alcohol prohibition in America had major, long lasting effects on American culture. It was designed to take away something that seemed to contribute to many of society's biggest problems. Outlawing liquor was supposed to decrease crime and general immorality, to make the American lifestyle more virtuous. However, the changes it made to American culture were quite the opposite of what was intended. It didn't even succeed in its most basic goal to rid the country of alcoholic beverages. Bootleggers were able to smuggle more than enough booze for the population, and the business of illegal saloons boomed as people flocked to get drinks. Crime, corruption, and alcohol consumption all increased, and "morality", as it was known, decreased. President Herbert Hoover called prohibition the "noble experiment", and that experiment yielded clear results. Prohibition was one of the biggest failures in the history of the United States.

Excessive alcohol in early America was extremely common for a number of reasons. Clean water was difficult to come by for many people and instead of drinking dirty and poor tasting water, many regularly drank alcoholic beverages. Alcohol was seen as healthy, and was even used to help people with simple illnesses. Temperance as a movement was virtually nonexistent. Georgia did attempt to outlaw alcohol in 1735, but it failed within seven years, and not many states followed. The 19th century was when temperance started to gain traction. Groups that preached the dangers of alcohol began forming. The American Temperance Society was founded in 1826 in Boston and within 5 years it had over 170,000 members. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union formed in 1873. The WCTU grew as women’s influence on politics as a whole grew. They often used the issue of alcoholic husbands beating their wives as a motivating factor to ending prohibition. These groups didn’t start out with prohibition as their only focus. At their beginnings, they preached to people to choose not to overindulge in alcohol, but as time went on more focus was put on campaigning for laws against alcohol. They spread their message with speeches, public demonstrations at bars, and eventually by endorsing candidates who were in favor of anti-saloon legislation. They began having success as the number of states that outlaw alcohol grew. However, there were ways for people in dry states to get alcohol. People could order alcohol from other states and receive them by mail. That is, up until 1913, when the Interstate Liquor Act outlawed selling alcohol to anyone in a dry state. By 1916, 23 of the 48 states had passed laws regulating alcohol in some way.

The leaders of the temperance movement achieved their biggest victory with the 18th amendment. On December 18, 1917, the amendment was proposed by Congress, stating that "After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or...

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