One of the most controversial the Eighteenth and later its repeal the
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One of the most controversial, the Eighteenth, and later, its repeal, the Tweny-
First amendment, made a big impact on America, and their ideas are still talked about
today. Prohibition has had many different view points from the beginning.
Prohibition started long before the Eighteenth Amendment. Organizations against
alcohol such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
were succeeding in enacting local prohibition laws, turning the campaign into a national
effort. In the late 1900s there was an average of one saloon
for every 150 to 200 people, including nondrinkers, due to competition in brewing
companies. The major complaint was the sex and gambling that went along with the
saloons. Originally it was started as awartime austerity measure in 1917, and later
Congress proposed the Eighteenth Amendment. According to Dennis Mahoney, in 1919,
it was ratified and went into effect. The Volstead act was sponsored by Andrew
J.Volstead on October 28, 1919. It enforced the new Amendment. During Prohibition
there was a slight drop in homicide rates around the country.
On January 16, 1920, the great law went into effect. The Eighteenth amendment
made it forbidden to manufacture, sell, transport, import or export any intoxicating
liquors. This was controversial because it turned the common hard working man or
woman, who enjoyed a drink after a hard day's work, into a criminal in the law's eyes. In
The History of Prohibiton, a web site by J. McGrew, it states that Prohibiton also gave
criminals, such as Al Capone, the opportunity to feed off the illegal substance. The
organized crime circuit ate up Prohibition and began to boot leg alcohol. Local pharmacies
and basements near the border became hubs for the transactions. The "Big Bosses" would
purchase it in Canada, where it was legal and import it to the US. A prime example of the
organized crime is in the movie, Legends of the Fall. Both the Volstead Act and the
Eighteenth Amendment are mentioned in the movie, as it portrays a small time boot legger
going up against a big organized crime family, in the end many people lost their lives over
alcohol and money.
Speakeasies, illegal bars, sprang up everywhere. They promoted the worst of immorality,
sex and gambling, as well as drinking. And for the first time women were seen smoking in
public. Bathtub gin and other illegal brewing was everywhere. Not only was the home
made booze highly potent it could also be highly fatal. If you survived, you could very
well be blind or disabled from bad "rot gut." I recently spoke to my grandfather on the
issue and he was quoted to say "Oh sure, we brewed our own beer and wine, we didn't
care." The public was fed up. Well-organized groups like the Woman's Organization for
National Prohibition Reform grew rapidly and after thirteen years it exploded during the
1932 presidential campaign. The democrats and their delegate, Senator, Franklin D.
Roosevelt, supported the reform. Backed by the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers,
Roosevelt got the repeal. On February 20, 1933, the Twenty-First Amendment was
proposed and on December 5, it was ratified. The newest Amendment to the Constitution
repealed the Eighteenth Amendment and the Volstead Act. After its repeal it took a long
time for the consumption rate of Alcohol to get back to the pre-Prohibition level.
In closing, the Noble Experiment (a name for Prohibiton, found in many different
sources) failed. The evidence clearly shows that the conditions of the Nation were clearly
better without Prohibition and the Eighteenth Amendment. One of the most discussed and
debated of this century, will this issue be carried into the next on the back of Marijuana?
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Prohibition in the United States, Volstead Act, Prohibition, Anti-Saloon League, United States Constitution, Repeal of Prohibition in the United States, Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
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