Prohibition started in the 1920’s and ended in 1933, a failure, but was it inevitable right from the start, could it have been stopped from its crash collision course, and if so how. I will be looking over all the sources to see why it failed and if it was inevitable right from the start.
As soon as prohibition had started John F Kramer, the first prohibition commissioner spoke about how there was going to be zero tolerance with the lawbreakers and how the law will be obeyed everywhere and that it will not be either sold nor given away or manufactured.
“We shall see that it is not manufactured, nor sold nor given away!”
This is in source F, a speech about how prohibition will be enforced by John F Kramer.
In source A Historians said, “23 states had already enforced a ban on alcohol.” Also American was told not to buy of German Americans who made the alcohol due to the war. People were also told that the grain needed to be saved for the soldiers in the war so they had sufficient food supplies.
The anti salon league was one of the well know organizations putting pressure on men and women all over the country trying to stop them drinking and make them feel guilty as well as the women’s Christian temperance union, as in source F Kramer was sure that prohibition would work and was backed by 1500 prohibition agents. By the 1928 there were 30,000 speakeasies in just New York all backed by gangsters all making it a violent business.
Propaganda was used to make people feel guilty and not drink by using images of children being left poor by a drinking father of a family and the family not being able to feed themselves due to the husband drinking so much as in sources C & D, this is like emotional black mail and most of it was false but it was to shock people and stop them drinking.
Prohibition was against a lot of peoples daily habits, people used to drink to feel good or get away from problems and keep calm but suddenly people couldn’t do this and had a craving for alcohol and so went at all risks to get it, this is where gangsters came in and took over the whole business and took off where saloons left off.
Gangsters started the whole backhander thing (bribery) and nearly everyone of a high status did it, like the picture shows in source I (7 men holding the hands out behind their backs.) it was know as the national gesture because everyone did it.
There are even accounts of the police jest being handed envelopes with money inside to stop enforcing the area they were in. Police who did try to enforce the law were sent off to law enforce in the middle of nowhere. ” If you tried to enforce the law they would put you in a post where there was nothing but weeds.”
Figures show in sources G ; H that alcohol related incidents were going up in the first set of years then they slowed down a bit. These results were both official figures from Chicago and the whole of America and both follow the same pattern. The results show two things, either alcohol crime went up and then slowed down or the police started off well but all got bribed so the figures slowed down.
At the end (just before) John Rockafella who funded a lot of the prohibition plan/law sent a letter out to an unknown person (source E) saying the law was failing and that it was over.
As this letter was confident it would have been completely honest showing that prohibition was a failure to be found. “Many of our best citizens have openly ignored prohibition, respect for the law has greatly lessened.”
I conclude that nearly all of these sources show prohibition was inevitable to fail but a few say it could have worked if the demand Kramer said he was going to were carried out, he would have stopped failure. The fact he only had 1500 to enforce the law over America was ridiculous, 1500 in one of the biggest countries in was nothing. It’s around 30 to a state and a state is normally bigger than England.
The time was right because the soldiers at war weren’t allowed to drink, with the propaganda shocking people and the law enforcers, but all was lost to gangsters and bribery and that at the end with Rockafella letter at the end showed prohibition was well and truly defeated.