Prohibtion Essay

Submitted By Kiara-Jayde
Words: 2535
Pages: 11

To what extent did prohibition achieve what it set out to do?
Prohibition is defined as “the legal act of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages.” Prohibition is evident all throughout history with earliest records of it dating back to 1600bc in China, but prohibition is most commonly known for its introduction into 1920’s America. Prohibition at the time was considered a widely popular and good idea, but as time has passed historians have reached the general agreement that an overall ban of alcohol is an unrealistic expectation. Prohibition had a specific aim which was to remove alcohol from society, but branching from this they had other aims that they hoped to achieve by achieving the first aim. They hoped to increase general health of the citizens and reduce number of alcohol related illnesses, reduce crime and corruption in America, reduce the amount of alcohol consumed by the average person and create an overall better standard of living for the average American but not the minorities as they were not liked at time. However due to the already existing underground crime and the nature of American society the prohibition was not successful and almost all of things they aimed to improve changed for the worse or did not change at all.

The most obvious aim of prohibition is to do what the words says to, that is to stop the production and sales of alcohol and as an effect radically reduce the amount of alcohol consumed. At first it appears as if prohibition was effective. Prohibition was brought in 16th January 1920, but there was a period of one year (until 1921) where it wasn't officially enforced. During this period of time the rate of drinking went down greatly to around 0.3 gallons of Alcohol consumed per person, compared to 0.8 the year before it was introduced. However this downward trend did not last , as shown in source one, it is very easy to see that after the initial drop in alcohol consumption it rose sharply again in 1922 to 0.85 gallons per person, a whole 0.05 gallons higher than the initial rate of alcohol consumption. This sharp rise clearly indicates that after the initial shock of prohibition had worn off people resumed their normal drinking rates. Another possible reason for this was because in the first year people were more concerned about stocking up on all the alcohol they could hold , this is demonstrated by source two which shows a huge group of people lining up to buy alcoholic beverages from a store in a closing down sale. Also prohibition was not a popular decision, and so it led to people drinking as an act of rebellion against the government, and the allure of it being an illegal act attracted a new crowd of alcoholics. Prohibition was changed from something that would bring good to a symbol of oppression and it meant that people were doing all they could to fight it. "The intransigence of the dominant wing of the ASL, which insisted on zero tolerance in law enforcement, gave substance to this perception and, in addition, aligned the league with the Ku Klux Klan and other forces promoting intolerance.” This extract by Mark Thornton, Assistant Professor of Economics at Auburn University's article ' Why prohibition was a failure' clearly demonstrates the general opinion about prohibition at the time. Therefore despite prohibition being successful at first it did not achieve its goal of reducing alcohol consumption as after the initial shock of it was over people began to drink again, and in fact drinking was a sign of rebellion against the people who were enforcing it, and in the year after it was introduced people had enough time to go and stock up meaning they could continue their drinking habits.

Reduce alcohol consumption was the most obvious aim, but as well as this prohibition aimed to reduce crime and corruption in American Society. Prohibition however was very unsuccessful in this aspect. The most obvious reason for this was that