Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Giggle Water Era

'Merica Shall be Dry

Prohibition in the United States was a measure designed to reduce drinking by eliminating the businesses that manufactured, distributed, and sold alcoholic beverages. In the book, Prohibition and Repeal,  Sylvia Engdahl stated that the prohibition of alcohol was no sudden event and that throughout the nineteenth century, there had been several temperance movements leading to the ban of alcohol (16). Temperance originally meant moderating the use of alcohol but for most supporters it eventually came to mean prohibiting it completely(Engdahl,16). The remedy for “the organic disease” was not to convince people to stop drinking or to change their ingrained habits but to stop the corrupting influences on the young and that was the predominant reason for the Amendments to be passed. 

-It was never illegal to drink during Prohibition.
The 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, never barred
the consumption of alcohol-just making it, selling it
and shipping for mass production .

The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution
Passed by Congress December 18, 1917. Ratified January 16, 1919. Repealed by Amendment XXI.
The Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquor, and the import or export of liquor, within the United States and its territories, starting one year from the ratification of this Article. Both Congress and the states shall have the power to pass laws to enforce this article (Engdahl, 14)
The Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution 
 Passed by Congress February 20, 1933. Ratified December 5, 1933
The Eighteenth Amendment is hereby repealed. The transportation of intoxicating liquor into any state, territory, or possession of the United States is hereby prohibited if the liquor is intended for delivery or use in violation of that territory’s laws (Engdahl,15).

The National Prohibition Act (the Volstead Act)
Congress passed the Volstead Act on October 18, 1919, and the law went into effect February 1, 1920. The Act was organized in two titles: the first instituted a system of war-time prohibition that ran until the beginning of national Prohibition; the second set out the system of national Prohibition and  the system for the regulation of production of industrial alcohol. The Volstead Act banned the production and sale of alcoholic beverages unless for religious or medical purposes. The Act defined intoxicating beverages to include those that contained as little as one half of one per cent alcohol, but it allowed for the manufacture, possession, and use of alcoholic beverages in private homes. It also contains a specific provision   limiting searches of private homes under the Act (Okrent, 96). 

Prohibition became possible with the support of Woman's
Christian Temperance Union (WCTU).


                       Supporters of Prohibition:

-Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR)
-Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU)
-Prohibition Party
-Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals 
-Anti-Saloon League

But we want John Barleycorn Back!

The prohibition of alcohol was intended to better society and end with the "evil" of alcohol but that was far from what happened. People turned to different options to obtain alcohol. Some people started to produce their own drink at home from wood alcohol and medical supplies, others would sell bootleg liquor in undercover bars called Speakeasies. Speakeasies were pretty interesting because in order to get in, you needed to give a password. Many people who were against Prohibition would not work, instead they would strike. Also, fashion had a great role during Prohibition. People who had obtained their "hooch" wanted to take it to parties and that is when they would wear the elaborate clothes shown below. The vial fixed in the high-heel shoe could hold a full shot of whiskey. 

DID YOU KNOW?                     
While Speakeasies were regarded as higher class, with food and entertainment, the term  "blind pig" was used for dive bars, where costumers would pay to see an animal and receive a complementary drink.

"Who is this Gatsby anyhow?" demanded Tom Suddenly.
"Some big booglegger?"(Fitzgerald,107)


Prohibition had a great impact in the American society and even though the point of Prohibition was to turn America's society into a "clean" and "pure" one, it turned out to be the opposite.  One negative effect about Prohibition in society was that it drove people to go against the law. There were all sorts of underground alcohol smuggling usually referred to as "bootlegging".  During Prohibition the respect for religion was gone, especially after the Volstead Act was passed. As mentioned before, the Volstead Act banned the production and sale of alcoholic beverages unless for religious or medical purposes. In Daniel Okrent's  "Last Call", is a  very interesting phrase that followed the fact that the Volstead Act allowed rabbis to distribute sacramental wines to synagogue members. It said that "wine congregations" exploded in size, and wine stores opened in Jewish Neighborhoods (34).

One of the worst things that Prohibition brought to the American Society was the organized crime. During Prohibition, corruption in the government increased due to the bribery that took place between organized crime leaders like Alphonse "Scar face" Capone and politicians. There was a lot of "dirty" business during this time period. 

Al Capone earned $60 million annually selling illegal liquor.


I have to say that Prohibition was a very interesting thing to happen to the American Society. Most of the time people will only relate it to alcohol but I have learned it goes beyond that. It had great effects on the society we now live in. I really encourage you to look more into it because you never know what surprising thing you might learn. 

Works Cited
"Al Capone." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
Engdahl, Sylvia. Amendments XVIII and XXI: Prohibition and Repeal. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven,    2009. Print.
Okrent, Daniel. Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: Scribner, 2010. Print

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