Was prohibition a success or a failure? What were the reasons for the rapid social change and cultural turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s?

Experts say that Prohibition was just an experiment. At the time many believe that alcohol was extremely negative. There seemed to be just one way of solving this issue; ban the manufacture, sale, or transportation of all alcohol beverages. During that time, females thought of alcohol to be affecting their husbands to become aggressive to their families. Not only did the wives of the family think that but it seemed as if all men were affecting families, their health, and how they were performing at work. It seemed as if all their incidences of violence and crime were involved with alcohol. The government agreed and passed the 18th amendment stating “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.” This seemed to be the solution to all problems. Not only did this not work, but it increased more dangerous acts and crime in the community as well.

Gangsters smuggling alcohol

After the passing of the 18th amendment, the male citizens were enraged. The ban of alcohol was now a bigger issue than ever before. The law enforcement would just grab all kegs of alcohol and just pour them throughout the streets and down the sewers. Little did they know, the general public smuggled many of the leftover alcohol for themselves. But for a few years it seemed as if the ban of alcohol had solved all issues. There would be no more violence in bars and pubs anymore because there would be no service anyways. When all seemed good, the men created secret pubs called speakeasies. Speakeasies were just a secret area where men and women could go enjoy some alcohol during prohibition. They would smuggle alcohol from Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. Ships filled with liquor waited for sneaky fast bootlegging rum-runners who returned to the mainland with illegal cargo for these speakeasies. These were also the main areas where law enforcement would crack down on. After a while it seemed just too much for the government to keep up with their own laws.

When all hell broke loose, there seemed to be just one option for the government; to repeal the 18th amendment. There was a moment in time where everyone wanted to have there alcohol back. The government couldn't keep up with their own laws. They were short on staff and became more lenient over time. Citizens had too many rules to break and police were not doing anything about it. Crime was also at an all time high and alcohol consumption in big cities were just ignored. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 21st amendment stating, "The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited." This made the general public so happy and everyone celebrated with some alcohol at the end.

Celebrating the end of Prohibition

I believe that prohibition could have been positive and could have worked as well if the government kept up with there laws. After a while the government seemed to just give up. If they enforced stricter laws and more staff, then prohibition would have been a success. But overall, prohibition was a huge failure. Some reasons of the huge social change and cultural turmoil was that men and women were on 2 different pages. Women did not like alcohol and the effects on their husbands and men overall. Men were just controlling and thought of alcohol as a drink and did not think of the negative effects it had on the society and their families. When prohibition was repealed, everyone changed their thoughts and were beginning to be more independent. This cause even more social change and cultural turmoil.

Created By
Alec Webskowski
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