Prohibition – How far does Source I prove the policeman in Source J is telling the truth? Essay

Prohibition was introduced in order to wipe out what was considered to be a great evil at the time – alcohol.

This was a controversial issue at the time. There were many areas in society, which supported Prohibition, and some areas that opposed Prohibition. Organisations such as the ‘Anti-saloon league’ and the ‘Women’s Christian Temperance Union’ supported Prohibition.

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They said that alcohol was destroying family life and men went to saloons and spent all their money, saving none for their children or families.However, the people who opposed Prohibition said that it took away the right of alcohol from the American people. The consequences of Prohibition was that there was a huge rise in organised crime and also many ordinary Americans were resorting to crime as they wanted alcohol.

There were ‘speakeasies’, which distributed alcohol illegally and ‘bootleggers’ who supplied it illegally – An example was William McCoy, who was a rumrunner. Prohibition also created a rise in organised crime, and gave way to the rise of gangsters, such as Al Capone, who bribed people to “turn a blind eye” to his work.Source I is a cartoon which was published during the period of Prohibition. This would have presumably been published in a newspaper of some sort. The artist is trying to show that all the officials in America were corrupt.

Source I shows a line of officials who were supposed to be upholding the law. This included all sections of law involving Prohibition – from party officials and judges to the police officers. This shows that people who were supposed to uphold the law weren’t doing so. All of them are stood in a line making the ‘national gesture’.This means that it was the same all across the USA – everyone is taking bribes, and therefore, Prohibition is not working. They are all standing in a line with their hands behind their backs. One can assume that they’re queuing in order to receive their handout, or ‘back-hander’. This means that they were receiving bribes.

The fact that this was the ‘national gesture’ means that everyone in the country was doing it. Therefore, this questions the integrity of all people in the USA. This was true at the time, as corruption was quite high, especially in Chicago at this time.The Mayor of Chicago, “Big Bill” Thompson, was paid by Al Capone to turn a blind eye to the works of Al Capone, and in effect, let him take charge of the city.

This then led onto massacres and gang violence, such as the Valentines Day Massacre. This Source suggests that Prohibition had been around for a long time for corruption to sink in, as it was produced in the mid-20s, between 1920-1925. This cartoon can also be interpreted in different ways, one of them being that everyone in the cartoon is fat – this could suggest that they are all inflated with money, as they are being paid quite a lot.This was a national newspaper and so, reached all over the nation. The author of this Source must have been very brave, as a person who produced an article in derogation of Al Capone got attacked and was beaten up. Therefore, as the cartoon producer knew the consequence of producing such a cartoon, he would have produced the truth, as it was like a suicide mission. Source J was an account given by a policeman.

It was in Chicago during Prohibition, around the 1920s. The purpose was to show the people what sort of tactics was used in order to bribe the police officers of the city.It shows that the officials were involved as well. He says ‘It was a conspiracy and my superior officers were involved in it’. This is similar to what is being said in Source I, however, this goes a bit further in saying that the officers who were further down in the tree were also being bribed. It says ‘I opened it (the envelope) and there was $75 in it’. Source J also shows that if he didn’t accept the bribes than he would be sent to a job that was no good.

The mayor would not deal with the Prohibition breakers, as the mayor himself was bribed.This is similar to Source I, as the cartoon shows the major people in the city were being bribed. It says ‘..

. if we tried to enforce the law they’d put you in a post where there was nothing but weeds’. This could mean that he was placed in the middle of nowhere or he could be put in the dangerous areas of Chicago. Either way, it shows that Prohibition was not being enforced by those that should have enforced it. This also goes against what Kramer was trying to do.

It showed that the policemen that actually wanted to enforce Prohibition were forced not to enforce it, otherwise they faced a punishment.However this was only one state, the state of Chicago and it doesn’t say that this was the situation across the rest of America. Because Source J is a personal account, it will need to be approached with caution. Source J was written about an ordinary policeman, but in Source I, the cartoon indicates that not only were the “minnows” involved in corruption, but also, every important person in the city was involved in corruption. We can tell he is telling the truth, as the cartoon shows that many of the city’s important people are taking bribes.In conclusion, one cannot prove beyond doubt that Source I shows that the officer in Source J was telling the truth.

However, Source I does indicate many things to us. It shows that the officials with authority did take bribes. One can, however, make a gauge that there is evidence that shows that the officer could be telling the truth. This is because Source I shows that officers were taking some bribes and Source J also shows that bribes were taken. From my own knowledge I also know that bribes were taken by people with high authority to turn a blind eye.The fact that a journalist was beaten up for criticising Al Capone shows that the journalist that produced Source I was incredibly brave to criticise politicians, and therefore, must have been telling the truth.

Source E agrees that the levels of alcohol consumed had increased, which could link in with the fact that nothing was done to stop alcohol being consumed. Source F does not agree with the Sources, as Kramer believed that the police would help enforce Prohibition, whereas Sources I and J show that this wasn’t the case, as the police were being bribed to not enforce Prohibition.I believe that both Sources showed truth to some extent, as they agreed with each other to some extent, and, as per my previous research, it is true, as most police did take bribes, as Al Capone bribed the top people in the city so that he could effectively take over the city. However, it is difficult to check how far these Source I proves Source J, though I can presume, looking at the evidence, that it supports it quite well.


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