Prohibition in the United States was a measure designed to reduce drinking by eliminating the businesses that manufactured, distributed, and sold alcoholic beverages. The Eighteenth Amendment to the U. S Constitution took away licences to do business from the brewers. Prohibition was introduced to help reduce alcohol abuse, to lower the amount of crime, to help marriages, and for religious and social reasons, and, because at this time, there was hatred towards Germany, and Germany was also a country renowned for producing large amounts of alcohol.
Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the problems it was intended to solve. 1. Source A is useful for studying the spread of prohibition in the United Sates. This source was written by Martin Gilbert to show the spread of prohibition throughout America. This source was included in an American History Atlas, which makes it useful. This source was written in 1968, which makes it 35 years after prohibition was officially abolished. The source shows the spread of prohibition from 1845 – 1933.
It shows in 1845 the states that had local prohibition, the territories, in which, the sale of alcohol was forbidden in 1845, and the sates, which were entirely, dry by 1915. Although this does provide some information, there are problems with the map. It doesn’t show which states were dry form 1915 until 1933 when prohibition was abolished. There was a wave of prohibition on the 16 of January 1920, when prohibition was enforced. This became the 18th Amendment to the US constitution to ban all forms of alcohol, the production, the sale, and even the possession of it could lead to heavy penalties.
This was suppose to help mend the ‘problems’, such as the ‘flappers’, who were seen as a disgrace to all ‘decent Americans. It was also meant to solve the problems of society, such as marriages, unwanted pregnancies and violence. All this was blamed on the influence of alcohol. The source doesn’t mention any of these problems, how or even why prohibition spread through America. I don’t have any proof of this source being politically correct, biased, or even any background information about the author, or his beliefs.
But, I do have the reliability that it was published in a history atlas, which is valid in this case. I think that the factors above prove that this source does show the spread of prohibition well. 2. Historians wrote both sources B and C, yet they give different interpretations as to why prohibition was introduced in 1919. Source B was written by Jack Watson, in 1981, a written source called ‘Success in 2oth Century Affairs’. This source was intended to be a simple and easy text, written for British scholars to learn history.
The source says that it was against American belief to drink alcohol because Americans who had German backgrounds often sold alcohol. Many people disliked the German people because of the First World War. Because of the Versailles Treaty, they still believe that the Germans were responsible for the war. Some people were still bitter because of the war, and the government, and officials used this as an excuse to make people agree with prohibition. The next source, source C, was written by another historian, Dr.
Theodore Eversole, in 1972. It is taken from a History book, ‘The culture of the USA in the 1920’s’, but we don’t know the audience. This source bases the reasons for prohibition on the Methodist and Baptist churches, because they believed that if people drank wine, unblessed by God, that it was against the teachings, and this would make the community weaker. But, the source also mentions that many white ‘southerners’ were afraid of drunken blacks, and also that employers would be safer having sober, more able-working employees.
The source again mentions God and country, and at this time, people believed in their religion, and were afraid that they would not receive God’s protection, and that America would be destroyed under the influence of alcohol. This source does not tell us the consequences of prohibition, and doesn’t tell us what happened after prohibition. Both sources have very different opinions, and show the variety of thoughts during, and after prohibition. There were many opinions at this time, and that is what made it easy for the people to become convinced that prohibition was the right thing for America during that time.
This helped introduce the policy, but too many people disliked the policy, and were unwilling to co-operate with the law, and it proved that they still wanted alcohol, and were willing to pay large amounts of money for it. 3. Source D is a photograph from the 1920’s and source E is a drawing from the 1960’s, both sources show the immediate aftermath of a raid on a speakeasy. Speakeasies were illegal clubs, which served alcohol to members. They could be found anywhere ranging from basements to office buildings. These two sources both have evidence that America was trying to get rid of alcohol.
I don’t know who took the photograph, but I do know that it is a primary source, because it was taken during the 1920’s. This particular source was taken to show agents for prohibition after a speakeasy. This particular photograph looks very artificial, as it might have been used as propaganda to show how well the government was doing, or a warning to anyone who had large amounts of alcohol in their possession. The source does tell us that the American government did face problems with the new enforced laws of prohibition, illegal bars were in use and many agents were employed.
I think that source D was taken for propaganda use, and therefore taken by the government. This is because the picture is very artificial, the boxes and bottles are all on display, and all the men in perfect poise. Michael Duffy drew source E in 1964, for use in a British textbook ‘The twentieth Century’. This drawing shows how the alcohol was not arranged in a display, but disposed of. The scene in the picture is again, outside a speakeasy. I think that this particular source came to be made especially for the textbook it is written in.
This is not a primary source, unlike source D, as it was drawn after the period of prohibition. I am not sure whether the artist did experience the prohibition, or is just basing this source from another source. 4. Sources D and E are both picture sources, one an illustration, and one a photograph, both illustrating agents employed by the government raiding a speakeasy. Both of these sources are useful for learning about events during prohibition, although they don’t tell us everything. Source D is the primary source, a photograph taken in 1920, during prohibition.
It was taken to show the agents after a raid on a speakeasy. This source would have been used as propaganda, to show the public how well prohibition was doing, and to warn off any illegal dealers. Source D doesn’t show us anything abut the ‘Bootleggers’. Bootleggers were people who brought alcohol into the country illegally; these people were the main problem. But this source doesn’t mention this problem. By just using this source, we would not be aware why prohibition was introduced, or why it eventually failed.
This source doesn’t tell us where the illegal alcohol came from, or how it entered the country. This source is a reliable primary source, even though it is bias. Source E is an illustration to show what happened to the alcohol after a raid. The source is a secondary source and was drawn in 1964, by Michael Duffy. It was featured in a textbook for British schools. I am not sure whether the artist used other sources to draw his picture, or was actually present during the time of prohibition, and drew it later; therefore I don’t have a full reliability to the source.
This source shows the events outside a speakeasy. But, again, this source doesn’t show us all the other events of prohibition, which went only the raids and speakeasies. 5. Very reliable information is given in source F, but his does not mean to say that it is reliable. Although this source is statistics, it has no priority over the reliability of a written source. Hugh Brogan, a historian, for a book called ‘The History of the United States’ in 1985, wrote this source. This source was written 55 years after prohibition was abolished, and therefore is a secondary source.
I am not sure that the writer of the source lived in the country at the time, but we are also not sure whether he used his figures from the time of prohibition, or at a later date. I don’t know whether the writer is presuming that to take someone to trail in New York would be hopeless, or if he is generalising with the whole country. To me, it is representing the whole country. Prohibition failed in America, because once alcohol had been introduced into the country, it was hard to ban. People started to smuggle, and bring alcohol into the country via Canada and overseas. This was brought in along the vast 18700 miles of coastline.
The people who did this were called ‘Bootleggers’; they also stole the alcohol from government warehouses, and sold this to people who were prepared to break the law. Very little of this illegal alcohol was captured by the authorities, because many of these crimes were carried out by gangsters, like Al Capone. He was one of the main, most successful, and most dangerous gangster during prohibition. If the government had stricter defence forces along the coastline, a lot of the alcohol would not have penetrated into the country, and less would have fallen into the hands of the gangsters.
Prohibition caused huge arguments in the 1920s, and massive corruption. Yet today it seems less important than the growth in the US economy in the 1920s. Prohibition was very important for the United States in the 1920’s, because it was a huge area to the economy. There were also many other important events to the economy, like the Wall Street Crash, which was of great importance, prohibition led to many other ‘knock-on’ effects to the economy. Prohibition was a major event that changed the American economy greatly. There were many changes that took place during prohibition.
Prohibition was meant to reduce the crime rate, reduce tax, solve the problems of society, and improve the hygiene and health in America. Propaganda was used by many different organisations to make people believe in prohibition. There were many different beliefs on why prohibition should have been carried out. Americans were loyal to their country, and to God, and the government used this to lour them into believing that prohibition was the Right way forward. Special ‘brain-washing’ methods were also used to teach the small children that alcohol was bad, so when they were old enough to drink, they didn’t want to.
This idea is shown many years later in Adolf Hitler’s methods. Prohibition was unsuccessful. It was enforced in the early years, in 1945, prohibition was slowly moving around America, but by the 1920’s, it was national. WE can see this in source A; it is a secondary source drawn by Martin Gilbert for a history atlas. This source shows the spread of prohibition clearly. By enforcing prohibition laws nationally, many problems surfaced, as many of the sources show. Source D and E; tell us that alcohol was somehow able to creep back into society.
Source D is a primary source, showing prohibition agents after a raid on a speakeasy, all the alcohol captured is pictured. We aren’t sure about the reliability of this source, as it seems like it was taken as a propaganda method. Source E is a drawing of a speakeasy by Michael Duffy. It is a secondary source, and therefore again, I can’t be sure of the reliability of it. It was published in ‘The Twentieth Century. ‘ In both sources, we are shown that speakeasies were present. These were illegal drinking clubs. The speakeasy’s increased, to over 200,000, but before there were only 1500 saloons.
The people providing the large amounts of alcohol were known as ‘Bootleggers’, and they imported the alcohol illegally. This also created gangsters, which were another huge problem which prohibition caused. One of the most dangerous was Al Capone. On February 14th 1929, Capone’s men machine-gunned several members of the Bugs Moran gang in the St Valentines Day Massacre. There was not enough security to protect the American coastlines, and the police were easily bribed so, all this played a huge part in the failure of prohibition.
The police also found it very hard to charge people, which is what source F shows. It says that out of 6902 cases only 400 were ever taken to court. Hugh Brogan, a historian, wrote it in 1985. It was included in a book called ‘History of the United States. ‘ Although many people were willing to give prohibition a chance, there were too many who still wanted to drink, and this proved to be fatal. The scheme has never been re-introduced; it is unlikely that it will ever be re-introduced again.