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The History Of Prohibition Essay

1525 words - 6 pages

The History of Prohibition

Source A is aptly named “Slaves of the saloon”. It shows a man handing
over what we guess is his weekly wages to the owner of a saloon – we
guess by the men drinking in the background that he is using it to buy
alcohol. The source also depicts a woman and her children sitting
around a table with no food. We can guess fairly easily that this is
the man in the saloon’s family; there is a bill on the floor hinting
at lack of money for necessities, utter desperation is on all of their
faces. The poster was probably printed to persuade the general public
that the 18th amendment (banning the transportation and sale of
intoxicating liquors) should be passed. It is likely to have been
created by one of the rich men of the Anti-Saloon League - Henry Ford
or Wayne Willard. Prohibition was popular with lots of people but
mostly the (positively) Christian people in the rural areas of the
USA. A lot of these areas had already had local prohibition for many
years but now wanted to spread it to the rest of the USA. Many people
thought that if they got rid of the intoxicant itself then the problem
of drunks and anti-social behaviour due to alcohol would be
eliminated.

The Anti-Saloon League and the WCTU (Women’s Christian Temperance
Union) were united in their fight for prohibition along with a vast
number of Christian-Americans who believed that the liqueur was deadly
and broke up families (as shown in Source A). Many large-scale
industries were keen for prohibition to be passed, and quickly. Their
logic was that their workers would work better without alcohol. By
1913 (five years before prohibition of the USA commenced) nine states
had passed stateside prohibition. In thirty-one other states ‘local
option laws’ were working - meaning that effectively over 50% of the
USA was dry at this point in time. The First World War undoubtedly
played a major part in the beginning of prohibition. One big standing
reason was that it was “unpatriotic” to drink beer which was most
probably brewed in Germany.

Source E was apparently taken after a raid on a “speakeasy”. The
prohibition agents in this source have guns, making them look very
professional and dangerous. The photo also shows us exactly how much
alcohol was being stored and sold in these illegal bars – it seems as
if the boxes have been positioned so they look like the raid is on a
massive scale. All of the agents were looking at the camera so it
seems unlikely that is it spur of the moment. The way the bottles of
liquor are lined up makes me think that it is staged. It is highly
possible that it was taken by the government to scare the owners of
speakeasies that the government is cracking down on prohibition and
they will not get away. It’s probably propaganda, the only problem
being that the photo showed weakness...

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