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"Prohibition In Early America" Describes Prohibition In America, What People Did To Get Around The Problems, And Some Of The Acts That Were Instated To Stop Drinking.

898 words - 4 pages

There once was a time when a person couldn't sit down after a hard day's work,and have a comforting Martini. This was a time in our history in which our governmentfelt as if the root of all evil was alcohol, it was their belief that if alcohol were no longerhere, then there would be no more problems. They had a good idea, but because of lackof being able to enforce the laws brought forth under the Eighteenth amendment, it didnot make a difference whether drinking was illegal or legal."Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the problems it wasintended to solve." (Thorton, 15). On January 16, 1920, a part of nearly every American'sdaily routine suddenly became illegal. The Eighteenth Amendment was put into effectand all importing, exporting, transporting, and selling of alcohol products came to asudden halt. Soon after this amendment came the National Prohibition Act, better knownas the Volstead Act. The Volstead act made any alcoholic product that had an alcoholcontent over .5% illegal, unless it was intended for medical or religious uses. This actalso set up guidelines for enforcement (Bowen, 154). Prohibition was meant to stop theconsumption of alcohol, thereby reducing crime, poverty, death rates, and improve theeconomy and the quality of life. "National prohibition of alcohol-the "nobleexperiment"-was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems,reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve the health ofAmericans" (Thorton, 1).After the Volstead Act was put into place to determine methods of enforcement,the Federal Prohibition Bureau was formulated in order to see that the Volstead Act wasenforced; nevertheless, these laws were violated by most anyone who wanted to drink.Bootleggers smuggled liquor from overseas and Canada, stole it from governmentwarehouses, and produced their own. Many people hid their liquor in hip flasks, falsebooks, hollow canes, and anything else they could find (Bowen, 159). There were alsoillegal speak-easies, which replaced saloons after the start of prohibition. By 1925, therewere over 100,000 speak-easies in New York City alone (Bowen, 160). As good as theideal sounded, prohibition was far easier to speak of than to enforce, with only 1,550federal agents to cover 18,700 miles of "vast and virtually un-policeable coastline"(Wenburn, 234). "…It was clearly impossible to prevent immense quantities of liquorfrom entering the country" (Behr, 162). Barely five percent of smuggled liquor wasstopped from coming into the country during the 1920s. Furthermore, the illegal liquorbusiness fell under the control of organized gangs, which overpowered most of theauthorities (Wenburn, 234). Many bootleggers secured their business by bribing theauthorities, namely federal agents and persons of high political status (Bowen, 160). "Noone who is intellectually honest will deny that there has not yet...

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