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Societal Outcomes of Prohibition

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Societal Outcomes of Prohibition


Prohibition was significant to U.S history because of the impacts that this era had on society. Prohibition was the ban of transportation and distribution of alcohol in the United States. From prior knowledge, I understand that a lot of people were abusing alcohol and that it was causing a lot of accidents or crimes which is what led to the government banning it. Although they banned it, Prohibition just led to people and even alcohol companies finding “loopholes” in the new law, finding new, more secretive, or less direct ways to still consume and sell alcohol. This essay is going to explain exactly when and why Prohibition was enforced and how people managed to still drink without it being illegal. This essay will also connect how Prohibition affected the United States during that era; including behaviors and different things that probably would not have become popular if not for Prohibition, and how the outcomes of Prohibition have had an effect on the way our society is now. This research will hopefully tell me more about the law itself and why the government allowed people to make loopholes in the law without punishing them or specifying the law. This research may also reveal if this law started more underground businesses and more rebellion in the United States and if so, did the government try hard to stop or prevent this? This project should prove how Prohibition was significant to the U.S history and how it has affected society up to now.

Research Process/ Methods

Throughout this project, my main focus was on the direct reactions or outcomes of Prohibition and how these outcomes have had an impact on things that we do or have in society now. I researched questions such as “How did Prohibition affect society in the United States?” and “What did Prohibition change in the United States?”. I chose to look into these specific questions because since I focused on how it affects society and how it changed the United States, these questions showed the ways how Prohibition was significant to the United States. The research connected Prohibition and its effect on history to how it has shape society up to now. Prohibition started due to the problems that alcohol seemed to contribute to in the early 1900’s. First, certain counties and states started to restrict or even prohibit alcohol on their own and then after the United States entered World War 1, they banned the manufacture, transportation, or sale of alcohol to cutback on overusing important resources but mainly because of the problems that alcohol contributed to which were often violence or car accidents. Although Prohibition was supposed to solve lots of problems as well as diminish crime it did the opposite. Once the 18th amendment was ratified it caused people to find new ways to drink using loopholes in the amendment or drink illegally in speakeasies. The government, the IRS, and the justice department all tried to enforce Prohibition the best that they could, but too many people were still selling and drinking alcohol. As a result, the new amendment ended up being more heavily enforced in rural areas with less people than in urban areas with more people. This encouraged more bootlegging, especially in urban areas. Many people became rich and well known due to bootlegging or owning speakeasies such as Al Capone who was very well known due to The Prohibition Era. Once the government realized that Prohibition did not stop citizens from selling alcohol or drinking it, some municipalities and states started to look at the good aspects of alcohol, how they could profit from it, and the possibility of lifting the ban on alcohol. Soon after these thoughts started arising, Franklin D. Roosevelt ended up lifting the ban on alcohol

because he knew it would create a lot of jobs and revenue that the government could profit off of.


The 18th amendment, which banned the manufacture, distribution, and transportation of alcohol, otherwise known as Prohibition, was officially passed on January 18, 1920. This was after a long, continuous campaign by “The Drys” or the groups of people who openly spoke against alcohol and encouraged Prohibition long before the amendment was passed. The Drys considered alcohol to be “America's national curse” because they believed that alcohol contributed to laziness in the workplace, violence or other issues in marriages, and that it caused accidents. By this time it was already banned in some states and cities, presumably for the same reason. However, once The Prohibition Era finally started, it backfired on the government and everyone else who was vouching for the ban of alcohol. The government hired about 30 people per state to enforce Prohibition, but that still wasn’t enough due to the rise of illegal activity such as bootlegging or speakeasies(which were illegal drinking spots).The government expected revenue to skyrocket in areas such as theatre, household goods, food and drink companies because they thought that citizens would be trying to find new and better ways to entertain themselves but instead they did the opposite which really surprised them. Amusement and entertainment industries actually lost revenue due to the rise of bootlegging and speakeasies. The government also lost some tax revenue because a lot of it came from alcohol sales. Not only did the abundance of speakeasies flourish, but people snuck alcohol in the United States from Canada or Mexico, and companies that originally sold alcohol started selling the main ingredients so that people could go home and make it themselves. These elevated crimes created “national gangsters” such as Al Capone who was very well known for all the money he made from casinos and speakeasies. It was lots of people finding ways to break this law and lots of people who became well known just because they were good at breaking this law but Al Capone proved that alcohol doesn’t always make you a horrible person. Since Al Capone made so much money during The Prohibition Era, he opened soup kitchens for people who were homeless or unemployed, and even gave a lot of money to charities which made him a “real life Robin-Hood” to many people. The Prohibition Era also caused a lot of big shifts or revolutions in history. For example, bootleggers pretty much gave birth to NASCAR racing because they would fix up their cars so that they were able to speed away from the authorities, or just to blow off steam by driving fast, not even realizing that it would soon transform into the event that it is now. Jazz music skyrocketed during The Prohibition



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