Essay about Temperance movement

Submitted By littlered260
Words: 739
Pages: 3

The Temperance Movement

There have been many large social movements in history that have had a profound effect on society. Many of the movements most people remember from history occurred between the 17th and 20th century. Many of these were successful; however there is one that backfired. In the early 20th century, a large group of people (mostly comprised of women) united in an effort to ban the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol. This became known as the temperance movement. The group eventually succeeded and alcohol became illegal in the US for 14 years from 1919 to 1933. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) as well as the Anti-Saloon League had significant political power and were backed up by the churches, which helped them achieve their goals. They turned from a moral standpoint on prohibition to demanding government control of liquor ("Temperance Movements.”).The only legal way to get it was to either have possessed it before the 18th amendment was passed, or to obtain it by prescription from a doctor. The temperance movement was not as effective as the anti-alcohol group had hoped. Their strategy and tactics were not as effective as they could have been, which led to the end of prohibition less than twenty years after alcohol was illegalized. The WTCU among other groups believed that alcohol was destroying families. At first, groups against alcohol organized non-violent protests, but then turned to law makers to make alcohol illegal. The groups were successful within legislation. The 18th amendment was passed by congress and alcohol became illegal to possess, transport, and purchase. The original tactics were focused at societal reform, but switched to legislative reform. The goal was to create a dry America in order to decrease crime and corruption lower taxes, improve health and hygiene and lower social problems. There were some tactics used by the WTCU that came under fire. It was found that they were promoting false information and exaggerating the truth to the point of indoctrination rather than instruction in an effort to reach their goals. Still, in the end, it may have made a tremendous contribution to the passage of the 18th Amendment. Because the groups attacked alcohol on a legislative level and not a social level, many people still consumed and purchased and transported liquor. No social change had been made, which is where change is most important. Secret bars called “speakeasies” where created in basements of legal businesses, and organized crime flourished making and selling alcohol in the woods, a process that became known as “moonshining”. They also imported liquor from Canada by river or trucks and sold it in the US. People kept drinking, and as the years went by, prohibition was failing. If the groups who aimed to eliminate alcohol changed society instead of law, the plan would have worked for a longer period of time. You can change laws, but not change people. If you can change people,…