Prohibition: Prohibition in the United States and Alcohol Essay

Submitted By ajellis43
Words: 3635
Pages: 15


Charles Town, West Virginia

The effects of Alcohol throughout American History

Submitted by

Amber Ellis


HIST 555 Winter 2014

Submitted to the Department of History and Military Studies

Alcohol has been central to social, religious and personal use throughout history in America from its invention to the many problems it's created. The alcohol problem, or alcohol abuse, as it is commonly called today, is the relationship one sees when one views alcohol as the cause of many personal and social problems as well as diseases and illnesses. The past century, however, has witnessed a fundamental change in dealing with alcohol problems from the temperance movement and prohibition to focusing on treatment and recovery of “alcoholics”. From the early 1800's, alcohol was highly regarded and universally consumed which started to cause a lot of trouble for the people of the United States. This led to the temperance movement, a way to try to prohibit alcohol in any way possible. Prohibition was an era of time of thirteen years in U.S. history in which the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor was made illegal.1 Prohibition was meant to reduce the consumption of alcohol, and thereby reduce crime, poverty, death rates, and improve the economy.2 The Prohibition Era was ushered in by the 18th Amendment in 1920 and ended with its repeal with the 21st Amendment in 1933. This was the only time an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was repealed in U.S. History. The roots of Prohibition can be traced back to go back the Temperance Movement which began in the early 1800’s.3 The Temperance movement was the key to the ratification of the 18th Amendment. Temperance at first meant abstaining from distilled liquors, but later would be the complete avoidance of alcohol.4 Both men and women would participate in the temperance movement across the U.S. In the 1820's, the Temperance movement sought to make Americans into a clean, sober, godly, and decorous people whose aspirations and style of living would reflect the moral leadership of New England Federalism.5 During the 1830's and 1840's, the temperance movement became a large and influential movement, composed of several major organizations. Large numbers of men were attracted to Temperance organizations as a means of self-help. In the interests of social and economic mobility, men sought to preserve their abstinence or reform their drinking habits. Many men joined the group the Sons of Temperance as a sign of commitment to middle class values and a step towards change of life style.6 Some leaders persevered in pressing their cause forward. Americans such as Lyman Beecher, who was a Connecticut minister, had started to lecture his fellow citizens against all use of liquor in 1825. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and benefited from a renewed interest in religion and morality. Within 12 years it claimed more than 8,000 local groups and over 1,500,000 members. Simultaneously, some Protestant and Catholic church leaders were beginning to promote temperance.7 Reverend Howard Hyde Russell founded the Anti-Saloon League in 1893. The Anti-Saloon League was an organization that men and women joined to help with the temperance movement.8 The Anti-Saloon League saw itself as primarily and fundamentally a (Protestant) church movement that was the engaged in the overthrow of the liquor traffic.9 The primary purpose of the Anti-Saloon League was to unify and focus anti-alcohol sentiment effectively to achieve results. Wayne Wheeler, the first president of Anti-Saloon League, developed what is now known as pressure politics. He was known as the “dry boss”. It did not demand that politicians change their drinking habits, only their votes in the legislature. Wheeler was very involved in politics and pushed the temperance movement with