Firstly though we can see how prohibition could have been a success, as it was supported by many groups in american society. Women saw alcohol as a means by which men oppressed them. Leading businesses saw drunkenness as leading to danger and inefficiency in the workplace, for example Heinze was one of some large companies that supported prohibition. Many religious groups also believed that alcohol was "the work of the devil" and was responsible for sin. Supporters of prohibition were usually overwhelmingly protestant and would live in rural areas and voted republican.
It is therefore obvious that prohibition led to huge growth in crime. Obviously taking away millions of people's liberties will lead them to rebel against this. The 18th amendment banned the sale, transportation and manufacture of alcohol. People soon found ways of getting round the new law. Speakeasies were soon set up in all of the big cities. these were illegal bars, which sold alcohol behind closed doors. It was almost impossible to close these down because they were opened in basements or the back rooms of restaurants and cafes. If bar owners could not get their hands on genuine alcoholic drinks, they could always buy moonshine or hooch, which was illegally made alcohol. Unfortunately this could be very dangerous. Several hundred people a year died from alcohol poisoning during the 1920s, mostly from the effects of moonshine.
But one of most important result of prohibition was that it made ordinary people into criminals. Most people liked a drink from time to time and this made the police very reluctant to enforce the law. They also became more open to bribes from otherwise law-abiding citizens. So began the system of bribery and corruption that spread all over the USA and reached the highest levels of society. Worse still, the supply of illegal alcohol fell into the hands of gangsters, who then bribed the police and justice system to allow them to carry on their business.
Another reason for the failure of prohibition id the geographical difficulties and controlling areas. The USA has 18,700 miles of coast line and land border. Those waters just outside the national limits became known with good reason, as "rum row" the smuggling into the country was so successful that in 1925, the officer in charge of prohibition enforcement guessed that agents only intercepted about five per cent of alcohol coming into the country illegally. The most common way of getting hold of alcohol into the USAwas from Canada, Mexico and the West Indies.
Gangsterism and organised crime grew rapidly. A famous gangster and bootlegger was Al Capone, who controlled Chicago. The mayor of the city, Bill Thompson , was known to be an associate of the gangsters, who stepped in to supply the demand. The gangsters were able to make a fortune. It is estimated that by 1929, Capone's income from the various aspects of his business was $60,000,000 from illegal alcohol involvement.
The death rate from liver cirrhosis followed a corresponding pattern.52 In 1939, 42% of respondents told pollsters that they did not use alcohol at all. If that figure reflected stability in the proportionate size of the non-drinking population since the pre-Prohibition years, and if new cohorts—youths and women—had begun drinking during Prohibition, then the numbers of new drinkers had been offset by Prohibition’s socializing effect. By 1960, the proportion of abstainers had fallen only to 38%.53
The Prohibition Era was unkind to habitual…