The History Of Prohibition

Submitted By crofty1995
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Pages: 7

Ian Tyrrell (
Some Americans fought prohibition in legal ways. The Association Against the Prohibition Amendment (AAPA), took over the campaign for repeal, led by Pierre DuPont and other powerful corporate leaders. An Organization called the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform seeking amendment of the 18th amendment was founded in 1929. Other women’s groups continued to support prohibition. Wealthy Americans and those who opposed the spread of illegality belonged to these organizations. They argued that disrespect for the law had been increased as a result of the prohibition amendment. Though businessmen at first supported prohibition, prominent capitalists eventually turned against it as did John D. Rockefeller, on account of the illegality associated with prohibition-related crime.
Prohibition represented a profound intrusion on the private lives of Americans and contributed to the growth of state power. Enforcement of prohibition was shared jointly between the state and federal governments, with the Department of the Treasury principally responsible for enforcement at the federal level. But the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) led from 1924 by J. Edgar Hoover also became involved in combating the crime which arose from the context of prohibition. Originally called the Bureau of Investigation, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover had been expanded in World War I partly to combat anti-war radicalism, but in the 1920s it had to deal with issues arising from he criminal activities of bootleggers.
The anti-alcohol movement left its impact on American life because the repeal of the prohibition amendment turned regulation of the liquor industry back to the states and allowed the states which wanted to continue to restrict alcohol sale and consumption to do so—which they did, especially in the South and Midwest for the remainder of the 1930s. American tastes were also changed by prohibition. The cocktail grew in popularity, while the custom of drinking in restaurants was in many areas lost.
Mark Thorton (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1991, forthcoming)
Although consumption of alcohol fell at the beginning of Prohibition, it subsequently increased. Alcohol became more dangerous to consume; crime increased and became "organized"; the court and prison systems were stretched to the breaking point; and corruption of public officials was rampant. No measurable gains were made in productivity or reduced absenteeism. Prohibition removed a significant source of tax revenue and greatly increased government spending. It led many drinkers to switch to opium, marijuana, patent medicines, cocaine, and other dangerous substances that they would have been unlikely to encounter in the absence of Prohibition. Those results are documented from a variety of sources, most of which, ironically, are the work of supporters of Prohibition--most economists and social scientists supported it. Their findings make the case against Prohibition that much stronger.
National prohibition of alcohol (1920-33)—the “noble experiment”—was undertaken to reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America. The results of that experiment clearly indicate that it was a miserable failure on all counts.

Bureau of Prohibition, Statistics Concerning Intoxicating Liquors (Washington: Government Printing Office, December 1930), p. 2.
Third, the resources devoted to enforcement of Prohibition increased along with consumption. Heightened enforcement did not curtail consumption. The annual budget of the Bureau of Prohibition went from $4.4 million to $13.4 milion during the 1920s, while Coast Guard spending on Prohibition averaged over $13 million per year. Richard Cowan, "How the Narcs Created