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Prohibition And The Presidency Essay

4108 words - 16 pages

Prohibition and the Presidency Alcohol has always been a large part of the American way of life. Alcohol is used for amusement purposes, as an enhancement to a meal, and often abused simply to get into an inebriated state. From 1896 to approximately 1933, alcohol was being abused and ultimately causing problems in society and a need for reform was urged by the citizens of the United States. The call for reform led the Americans to create the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which stated that, the sale, manufacture, and the transportation of intoxicating liquors is strictly prohibited. With the passage of the 18th amendment came the Volstead act, which was created to enforce the Prohibition Amendment. The national government's problems did not end with enactment of these two policies, but rather seemed to increase, causing major debates in the governing politic of the country. The major debates that occurred in the governing politic seemed to exist on the simple question of enforcing the newly implemented policies for the whole nation. Enforcement of the prohibition policy was not as easy as many thought, thus creating unforeseen obstacles for the various presidents and the rest of the federal government to overcome. Many of the presidents believed the issue of enforcement should be left up to the state governments to handle. They believed that it was not a federal government issue and that the states were better equipped to handle the issue. This was seen by former president Coolidge who instituted an Executive Order to let the states handle the problem. His Executive Order for Prohibition Enforcement, stated that the states were allowed to appoint an individual who was part of the Treasury Department to enforce all of the provisions of the National Prohibition Act in the their respected state. This allowed the state governments to appoint an individual to be the enforcer of all the prohibition laws in their state if that state did not have any provisions against an officer holding office under the federal government. The order received some scrutiny from the senate saying that the president had no authorization to give such an order, but it was eventually passed after some debate. Coolidge wanted to leave it up to the states to enforce the prohibition and Volstead act at their own discretion. The states were more in tune with what its citizens wanted so they could adjust accordingly in order to make the new law work. The state governments tended to be more informed about their domestic issues and could handle the enforcement better than the national government. The federal government didn't have the resources to watch each state and make sure that they were enforcing the law, as they should have been. The individual states were also better equipped to deal with infringements to the law and thus decide on how hard they were going to enforce it and hand out punishments, as they deemed suitable. National...

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