Source related questions and answers on prohibition of alcohol 1920’S in the U.S.A. Essay

1. What can you learn from Source A about why the Anti-Saloon League opposed the sale of alcohol?

Source A shows that the Anti-Saloon League is opposed to the sale of alcohol because going to the saloon made people poor. The men would go to the saloon after receiving their week’s wages and spend it all, leaving their wives and children at home without food. Hence the name “The Poor Man’s Club”. To become a “member” of the “club” the man must go to the saloon often, meaning less money and time for their families.

This poster would make people feel guilty about leaving their families. It is trying to persuade them to leave the drink and save money. The only people that are profiting from alcohol are the bar owners.

2. What reasons for Prohibition are given in Sources B and C?

How are they different from the reasons in Source A?

In Sources B and C, religion, economics and patriotism are all portrayed as reasons for Prohibition. Christian groups, such as the “Women’s Christian Temperance Union” were against alcohol as they saw it as being against their religion.

Economically, the grain used in the brewing was needed for food during World War I. Food was more of a priority than alcohol.

Also, as beer was German, during the First World War, drinking beer was seen as unpatriotic.

In Sources B and C, the reasons for Prohibition are all about the effects on America, herself as a country. In Source A, the reasons for Prohibition are all about the effects on family life.

3. What is the message of Source E?

Does the evidence in Sources F and G support the message in Source E?

The message in Source E is that the Germans knew Prohibition would not work because people wanted to buy alcohol. The cartoon portrays this by showing a tired, weary and unsuccessful Uncle Sam, smashing bottles of alcohol. However, at the same time the devil keeps on adding alcohol to the pile. In reality, the devil could be seen upon as Al Capone and other gangsters.

Sources F and G both support the message in Source E. Source F shows that there were not enough agents to stop to stop the illegal manufacturing, transporting and selling of alcohol. Also, because the agents’ salaries were low, gangsters had the power to bribe them.

Source G shows that during the first five years of Prohibition, criminal offences involving illegal drink, rose. In some cases, they rose more than twice what the figures were before Prohibition.

4. What way of life is described in Source D?

Use Sources F and K and your own knowledge, to explain why the way of life described in Source D did not come about?

In Source D, the way life was expected to be, during Prohibition, completely different to how it was. Life was expected to be happy, joyful and cheerful. Also, it was meant to be carefree, and improve family life because the father was working better bringing home more money into the home. People were also expected to respect the law more.

Source F illustrates that life, described in Source D, did not come about because gangsters brought in more alcohol making it more available to the public at a higher price. Federal agents were easily bribed because they were not paid enough. Also, there were not enough agents to enforce Prohibition laws.

Source K shows that everyone wanted to buy alcohol and it was bought mostly from gangsters such as Al Capone. These gangsters became impossible to convict because federal agents had no evidence against them. Even though most of the gangsters admitted breaking the law, they still could not be convicted because there were so many other Americans breaking the law too.

5. How useful are Sources J, L, N and I in helping you to understand the public attitudes to Prohibition in the U. S. in the 1920’s and the early 1930’s?

Source I shows that members of the public found the thought of drinking, alcohol illegally, thrilling and exciting. Also, because you had to “know somebody who knew somebody” you felt special. This boosted self-esteems. This evidence is useful because, Alec Wilder, was a member of the public that lived through the time of Prohibition, so he had a good insight into the illegal use of alcohol.

Source J, was written by a journalist which, could be useful as journalists meet a lot of people. However, it could be biased. Again this source shows that members of the public were prepared to drink illegal alcohol, meaning Al Capone acquired more money and more power.

Source L shows that Al Capone was a very popular man, and that the public attitude towards him was very popular. This is portrayed by the fact that the magazine was very popular and they chose to put him on the front page. This picture portrayed Al Capone as a prosperous and successful businessman. His face looks warm and welcoming. The picture captured his “good” side hiding his scar away. This source is very useful to show the publics attitudes to alcohol. Also, it was published at the time of Prohibition and was a very popular magazine. However, it is biased showing only one side of the story.

Source N illustrated that the public was happy to get alcohol back after Prohibition. This source is very useful, in illustrating the public attitudes, as the public voted President Roosevelt in, after he promised to lift the ban of alcohol.

6. Al Capone was viewed by the authorities in the U.S.A. as “Public Enemy Number One”.

Do the Sources and your own knowledge of U.S. society in the 1920’s and 1930’s support this view?

Explain your answer, using the sources and your own knowledge.

Many people saw Al Capone as a saviour during the time of Prohibition. However, many people saw him as the “devil” of Prohibition.

Source M shows that the police had suspected Al Capone of crimes. This is portrayed by the “mug-shots” that had been taken of him. Al Capone was impossible to convict, even though he admitted to having committed lots of offences. Federal agents had no evidence to convict him.

Many religious groups and anti-alcohol groups, including the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, saw Al Capone as Public Enemy Number One because he provided the illegal alcohol to members of the public, charging high prices which increased his power over the police and government. This is because he used his money to bribe federal agents and mayors.

During the years of Prohibition, alcohol related crime increased by nearly twice what the figures were before Prohibition was enforced. This would of led to the police seeing Al Capone as Public Enemy Number One, because if the public were not purchasing alcohol off of him then the crimes related to alcohol would have decreased rather than increased.

Al Capone corrupted mayors and politicians by bribing them. At one point, Chicago was ran by people that were employed by Al Capone. This meant that cities became violent and fearful places to be.

Lots of the American public saw Al Capone as a criminal. This was probably because he was behind the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929, in which his gang members murdered seven members of “Bugs” Moran’s gang, which won him control of Chicago’s underworld. Al Capone was seen to cause a lot of violence and corruption in people’s lives.

Anybody that was unfortunate enough to witness any of Al Capone’s wickedness, was “sentenced” to a life time ruled by fear of what Al Capone and his gang members would do to you. Al Capone and his gang members had been known to beat people, that opposed him, up.

Capone controlled many newspapers, only allowing them to print certain things. This was mostly propaganda, persuading the public to consume alcohol. This would help him because most of the alcohol would be bought off of him, making his income rise.

Al Capone openly broke the law. He would never make his crimes a secret. However, federal agents never had enough evidence to convict him for any of these crimes. Capone was eventually convicted of income tax evasion in 1931, of which he tried to keep quiet, and his account books safe. He also only dealt in cash so his payments could never be traced.

Many people feared Al Capone because he had his own “police”. They acted as his bodyguards and went everywhere with him. They ensured he was kept safe from other gangsters who wanted him dead.

Al Capone was not only feared for his bodyguards, but also for the number of killings he had either made himself or had ordered a hitman to do for him. Overall, he had made 136 gangland killings.

Al Capone was not seen by all as Public Enemy Number One. To some people he was seen as a hero. This was because he acted like a modern day “Robin Hood”. He got the alcohol then sold it to the public, who in a sense, if alcohol was money, were very poor.

Capone was also seen as a successful businessman that had worked hard for his money. He was also seen to have taken a lot of risks for the public. For example he had risked going to prison just to provide the public with an answer to their longing of the forbidden drink.

Another reason he was not Public Enemy Number One, was that he provided employment for many people. Jobs included positions such as running speak-easies, transporter of alcohol and hitman.

Also, Al Capone encouraged jazz. Many people liked this as they would like to dance to jazz. Chicago was welcoming many new and upcoming jazz musicians at the time of Al Capone. This was helping the evolution of the Chicago style. Musicians of the time include Louis Armstrong, who emigrated to Chicago when he joined Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band.

Al Capone was always well dressed and presented well. This could have had something to do with the excessive amount of money he had. This could also have been the reason for him being a well-known “ladiesman”, tempting women with his money.

Also, Al Capone united Chicago. He brought many gangs and religious groups together. This caused the Irish, the Polish, the Jewish, the Italian and the blind inhabitants of Chicago to be united.

Strangely, if a victim of Al Capone ended up in hospital, then any bill that had to be settled, Capone would pay for it himself. Many people saw this as an act of remorse towards his victims.

There were many reasons that shows that Al Capone was not America’s Public Enemy Number One, but merely a hero that supplied the public with something they extensively longed for. However, there were more reasons, which portrayed Al Capone as America’s Public Enemy Number One. He caused a lot of fear and was the main reason for violence in Chicago.