Prohibition Olivia Pachla
Prohibition was a national ban on the making and selling of beer, wine, and liquor from 1920 to 1933. The movement allied Protestants that still believed drinking to be sinful with social reformers who thought that the ban would reduce prostitution, spousal abuse, and crime rates associated with the growing immigrant population. Through efforts by the Anti- Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the idea of Prohibition became a test of American patriotism because of the need to use grain for food instead of alcohol during the war along with a backlash against German beer brewers. On January 16, 1919, the United States passed the Eighteenth Amendment, which banned the making, selling, and transportation of alcohol. The Volstead Act was passed in 1919 to outline the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment; and finally in 1920 Prohibition became effective, although it was not widely followed. Bootleggers, who made and sold alcohol illegally, illegal saloons called speakeasies, and the lack of funding to enforce the reform consequently led to the habitual law breaking and an increase in corruption and organized crime.
"After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited." - Section 1 of the 18th to the U.S. Constitution.
Prohibition demonstrates both the gas and breaks of the 1920s. The movement to ban the manufacture and sale of alcohol united social reformers and showed how their calls for change during that time were taken seriously by both state and federal legislations. It also encouraged patriotism during wartime because reformers called for grain to be used for food and not booze during wartime. With that being said, the Eighteenth Amendment and Volstead Act were not enforced well, which lead to the “breaks” of the era. Although national levels of alcohol consumption decreased, many areas of America saw an increase during the Prohibition Era. Organized crime soared because of bootleggers and gangs, and speakeasies encouraged habitual law breaking. Furthermore, ten percent of the federal government's annual revenue from liquor taxes was lost, as well as thousands of jobs after the closing of breweries, distilleries, and saloons. Overall, Prohibition had more “breaks” than “gas.” On the surface it seemed like a good idea for social reform and patriotism; however, its encouragement of underground alcohol selling and consumption as well as organized crime and its negative economic impacts overpowered any positive change it brought.