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Prohibition And The American People Essay

1231 words - 5 pages

Prohibition and the American People

Abraham Lincoln, arguably the greatest president in American history, is believed to have said, “Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.” The temperance movement put pressure on government officials to make changes in the U.S., one of these changes was put into play by the 18th amendment. This amendment banned the making, sale, and transportation of alcohol illegal, but not consumption. This time period in the 1920s came to be known as prohibition. There were many unions that formed to ban alcohol for good, but standing in their way was the common man fighting for his right to drink once again. Although many believed that prohibition was rightfully made into law and would help America become more successful, outcomes such as prevalent crime, the law being broken constantly, and police forces being bribed and not enforcing the law, show prohibitionists could not be more wrong.
Prohibition was a recipe for disaster from the very beginning, and many different problems came to the surface because of the change to everyday American life. Organized crime was a direct product of the 18th Amendment. Before the amendment passed, there were few organized crimes and mobs, but shortly after the 18th amendment was passed, they began to flourish. Since there were bans on alcohol, mobs jumped at the opportunity to become rich because the demand for alcohol was so high. Gangsters such as Al Capone and Bugs Moran set up huge complex systems to make, transport, and sell all with little problems. The mobs became strong and the competition grew fierce. The streets became dangerous and many bloody shootouts occurred. With all the organized crime going on, the law was disregarded. Many people would not hesitate to break the law and make their own alcohol. It was very simple to go out and get the necessary products to make alcohol. According to Erica Hanson (1999), “For those Americans who did not want to go to the effort of making their own liquor, an army of bootleggers, moonshiners, and rum runners were available to supply the nation with all the booze its citizens could drink” (p.29). In case neither of those options worked, a person could walk down the road to find a speakeasy to drink and break the law. Law enforcement was poorly organized to deal with the law breaking and crime. The Prohibition Bureau funds were nowhere near what they needed to be so there were not enough people hired to stop the many illegal operations. Many officials could be bought to keep their mouth shut and look the other way. The number of officers that actually busted law breakers was minimal. Law enforcement, on...

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