U. S. History
February 25, 2014
Following the War This paper is going to address issues from the end of the World War I era. The specific subjects concerned are: prohibition, women’s suffrage, and segregation and racism. Each subject will be limited to its relevance in the United States during the time period. From 1920 to 1933 America went into a state of being sober, or at least that was the plan. The prohibition era began with good intentions to create a strong country with hardworking, honest, and productive citizens that would bring the nation up to a higher standard of living. In the book Last Call: Rise and Fall of Prohibition, it explains the reasoning behind America’s ban on the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol. A quote from the U.S. House Representative, Richmond P. Hobson, in 1914 says, “If a family or a nation is sober, nature in its normal course will cause them to rise to a higher civilization. If a family or a nation, on the other hand, is debauched by liquor, it must decline and ultimately perish” (Okrent 5). This was the foreshadowing of the amendment to come that would send the country into an almost constant state of drunkenness and crime. Most citizens, however, did not agree with the 18th amendment. Because of the illicitness of the drink, a new imbalance of supply and demand began to form also causing crime rates to climb with the bootlegging of the much desired addiction. Groups formed by mobsters started to mass produce various forms of alcohol and sell them at much cheaper prices then when it was legal. This started the problem of organized crime in the country that persisted past the repeal of the amendment. As the prohibition era progressed, those in favor of the law believed the problem had been completely taken care of. Although, those who still continued to drink knew that it was as easy as ever to get the alcohol they wanted. A quote from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, in the Miami Herald, 1920 states, “The prohibitionists say that the liquor is as dead as slavery. The wet people say that liquor can be obtained anywhere. You’d think they’d both be satisfied” (Okrent 215). From this it is easy to tell that the even though laws were put up to enforce prohibition, the business of bootlegging was shady and successful, allowing anyone wanting a sip of the dangerous drug to be satisfied. The prohibition movement was backed heavily by the now rising woman’s suffragists. Frances Willard, a powerful voice for the females, knew that without the help of women there would not be enough votes to pass prohibition. It was written that,
“Willard very explicitly made temperance a woman’s issue- and woman’s issues, she argued, could not be resolved if authority was left solely in the hands of men. She had further come to believe that encouraging temperance was no longer enough. Only some form of legal prohibition could crush the liquor demon, and no such prohibition would ever be enacted without the votes of women” (Okrent 17).
Thus moved forward the need for the women to get involved, not only with prohibition but, any other cause they believed it was their right to voice an opinion and make a change. This was not the beginning of woman’s suffrage though. It had started in the 1840’s with the first convention being held in New York (Women’s Suffrage 12). Even back in 1776, Abigail Adams was fighting for women’s rights in her letter to her husband. She wrote,
“And by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice, or representation” (Women’s Suffrage