Coursework Assignment: Prohibition Essay

Question 1

Source A is useful because it shows the spread of prohibition across America from west to east. It shows that states in the west had already prohibited the sale of alcohol by 1845. Some other states in the east like New York already had local prohibition laws in place by 1845. The majority of states in the east and Central America were entirely dry by 1915. This source is limited because it shows the whole state, in a state areas might not be dry. This could also be useful because a historian compiled it in 1968 and so he was able to look back over all of the evidence from both government sources and from illegal bootleggers and compile an accurate map.

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Question 2

The sources could disagree because one was written in 1972 and the other was written in 1981 which means that there was a gap of 9 years between them and so the writer of the first source could have had access to different information. The first source was written under the title “success in 20th century affairs” so it is trying to how the success of prohibition. The second source is about the culture of the USA in the 1920’s so it is going to use and explanation for prohibition that is based around the culture of the USA and why this affected prohibition.

Question 3

The first source is reliable because it was taken in the 1920’s. On the other hand its reliability is limited because a government agent could have taken it in the 1920’s. This could have been staged to use as propaganda to show prohibition working. Evidence for this is that all of the government officers are facing the camera. The second source is reliable because it was drawn in 1964 so the artist would have been able to look at other photos and accounts of raids on speakeasies and make an accurate representation. This source is limited in its reliability because it does not show enough detail about the events it is portraying and it could be wrong because the artist has miss-interpreted the information that he has gathered or been given. So I think that neither source is really a very reliable source of evidence for the aftermath of a raid on a speakeasy.

Question 4

The pictorial source is useful because it gives and impression of how much alcohol was sized in a single raid. It also shows that there must have been a lot of alcohol about if they were able to get this much. Another point is it helps with is to show how much alcohol was actually available during prohibition. On the other hand the source is limited in its usefulness because it could be a staged photo and so the evidence from it cannot necessarily be trusted. The second source is useful because it shows just how corrupt the legal system was. Corrupt because some many people could be arrested and only 5 ever held for trial. It is also useful because it is written with the benefit of time and so the historian is able to look back over records to get very accurate figures.

Question 5

Just because this source gives us precise evidence as to the arrests and convictions under prohibition it does not mean that the evidence is reliable because the sources that the data could have been collected from might have been made up by and anti prohibition group trying to show that prohibition could not be enforced and so why should it be a law. The figures might not be accurate also because the author could have made the up to make prove a point in his book. This could be reliable though because it was written 505 year after the events and so there would not be any groups influencing his writing.

Question 6

It can add a lot to somebody’s understanding of prohibition because it shows pictorially the factors that affected prohibition and shows pictures and footage of events that occurred during the time of prohibition. It shows how the people who run these illegal businesses lived instead of just showing us. It gives eyewitness accounts from people actually involved with these gangs and people affected by them. It is limited because the eyewitnesses might have had their views changed by the events, they might have forgotten things or they might have had their views changed by the media between the time of the events and ten time of the filming of the program.

Question 7

On a whole the sources provided are very useful in showing different parts of life under the prohibition law. The first source is useful because it gives us the full picture of how prohibition spread through America. It is limited though because it shows the large picture and so it cannot focus on smaller parts of individual counties. The second source is useful because it gives us one person’s view of what made the prohibition idea become law. It is limited though because it only gives one person’s view not the wide-ranging view. The third source gives another persons view on how the prohibition idea became reality. It is also useful because it shows that people had differing ideas on why prohibition was enforced.

It is limited because it is only one persons view and not that of the whole country. The fourth source is a useful source to see how the government were showing people that prohibition was working and that they should obey it because they would have alcohol confiscated. It is limited though because it could be staged and so it is not an accurate piece of evidence. The fifth source I a good source to show a more modern view of what happened when a speakeasy was raided. It is limited though because it is a cartoon and so lacks the detail that a picture or a descriptive passage has.

The sixth source is a good source to show how corrupt the police force was in New York under prohibition. It shows that illegal alcohol transportation and selling was a big thing because so many people were arrested between 1926 and 1927.It is limited because a historian wrote it in 1985 for a book so the facts could have been doctored so that they proved the authors point. The seventh source is useful because it gives us a view of what actually happens and the publicity surrounding alcohol and it gives good eyewitness accounts of what was happening. It is limited because the eyewitnesses might have forgotten things over time or they might have had their views changed by the media.

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