Dr. Borkowski Gunn
November 15, 2012
Prohibition: Under the Influence of Crime The Prohibition Era lasted from 1920 through 1933, and was an attempt to establish morality by permanently banning the sale, production, importing and exporting of alcoholic beverages. It took a Constitutional amendment to enact it, and another one to repeal it. The effort to reduce the negative effects of alcohol on society did almost the opposite. In addition to creating new types of crime Prohibition also jump-started a new wave of American culture that is still prevalent today. The Prohibition law was neither respected nor wanted and in turn the manufacturing and distribution of alcohol became one of the biggest underground industries in the country. With speakeasies (establishments that illegally sold alcohol) popping up in all parts of the country a new American attitude was beginning to develop. There were new types of music coming out, a new breed of women was developed,. With all of these things developing from Prohibition, the Roaring Twenties became a pivotal time in American History. Organized crime became one of the biggest and most lucrative industries of the Prohibition Era and was the backbone of the entire movement.
History of Prohibition: Prohibition came into effect during the end of World War I where it was argued that the grains used to distill alcohol were in short supply and because of the needs of the war. This was part of the Lever Food and Fuel Control Act of 1917, which effectively shut down all of the country’s breweries and distilleries temporarily. (The Prohibition Era) It was said that by making Alcohol an illegal substance in the United States the nations health would increase sufficiently and the crime rate would also drop dramatically. It was also claimed that other industries would thrive because with absence of alcohol other types of beverages would become more popular. In combination with these two factors juvenile delinquency was supposed to reduce and the productivity of the average worker was presumed to increase, making the nation more economically prosperous. (The Prohibition Era) What the legislators who ratified the Eighteenth Amendment didn’t expect was that the exact opposite happened. We all know that shortly after the roaring twenties came the Great Depression, the greatest economic slump in American history. Also, no industry prospered as much as organized crime and the illegal manufacturing and distribution of alcohol As crime increased more people started turning to other types of drugs to take the place of alcohol, as well as more people filling up jails on account of getting arrested due to minor alcohol infractions. Ultimately the Prohibition of alcohol did not get rid of the demand for alcoholic beverages, and new and better-organized criminals emerged to meet this demand. This industry of manufacturing and distributing illegal alcohol came to be known as bootlegging. Soon legal saloons were replaced by what were called “speakeasies”, or illegal underground locations where alcohol was served. (Bootleggers and G-Men) The demand for alcohol was so great that during Prohibition it was estimated that American’s consumed at least 100 million gallons of bootleg liquor per year. (Bootlegging) Criminals immediately recognized how high the demand was and the colossal amount of money they could have made by smuggling, producing, and selling alcohol. This allowed organized criminals to expand their business in ways they would have never done before. (Bootleggers and G-Men) In larger cities powerful bootlegging gangs arose to meet the demand for illegal alcohol and to fight bloody wars of who the areas and the huge income. (Bootlegging) Many of these gangs established their own manufacturing plants where they brewed and distilled alcoholic beverages. This seems almost impossible