Was Prohibition bound to Fail

These two accounts agree with Prohibition to a certain extent. Both sources agree that campaigns should be run against alcohol. Source A- “The influence of the anti- saloon league.” This campaign agrees with prohibition, they wanted saloons to be banned because they believed that it was a bad influence and encouraged people to waste their money and once people had too much to drink the campaign thought that they caused crime. It launched a strong propaganda campaign and put pressure on politicians to support the cause. Source B- “The women’s Christian Temperance Union.” This campaign was a very religious one. They were against alcohol because they believed that drinking was bad and should not be done. Both the sources agree that the use of grain is being wasted on alcohol so it should be banned. Source A- “Preserving grain for food.”

Source B- “Congress to ban the use of grain.” Both the sources believe that the use of grain being used to make alcohol will have to stop. Both sources agree that alcohol caused criminal activity. This was a reason why they wanted to introduce Prohibition. Source A- “No earlier law produced such widespread crime.” This is very ironic because they wanted to stop the amount of crime by getting rid of alcohol but instead the opposite happened and caused more criminal activity. Source B- “Dutch Shulz and Al Capone had turned the avoidance of prohibition into big violent business.” Prohibition caused a big increase in gangsters, which means more crime and trouble.

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Although the sources agree with each other in certain aspects, they also disagree with each other or have a difference to a particular point. An example of this, would be the fact that they both agree with the fact that grain should be banned but for different reasons. Source A says, “preserve grain for food” but source B says, “wanted to ban the use of grain for either distilling or brewing.” This tells us that that they didn’t both want to preserve grain for food. Source B mentions the fact that prohibition brought on crime and business for gangsters. ” Big violent business.” It was organised crime, which played such a big part in prohibition. I know this because it says in the Steven Waugh history book that, “This was the biggest effect of prohibition.” It doesn’t go into detail about the amount of crime produced in source A, considering it played such a big part of prohibition.

I feel that the two sources agree with prohibition much more than they disagree. Both the sources talk about why and how the government wanted to introduce prohibition and what they wanted the outcome to be.

Source C shows a man handing over his week’s wages to the barman whilst his family sit at home crying without enough money to buy food and clothing. They are ‘slaves of the saloon’, meaning that their family life is governed by the man’s obsession to drinking in these establishments. It says on the source “The poor man’s club.” This is very ironic because they wouldn’t be poor men if they weren’t spending their money on alcohol. The poster say’s that its “the most expensive in the world to belong to” because all the money they earn is how much it costs for them to stay in the saloon and to drink the alcohol and to stay part of the club.

The man handing his money over to the barman is a club member in good standing “paying his dues.” He is basically paying his membership fee to be a member of the club. In the small caption where the family is, it says “the saloon is well named the poor mans club, it keeps it members and their families always poor.” This is very true because after the man has spent all the money that he’s earned he will be poor and without the money he earn his family will stay poor. It mainly tends to be the men out in the saloons because the women were at home looking after the family.

Source D shows a different picture but a similar story, children outside, looking into a saloon saying “daddy’s in there.” He is spending all his time and money whilst they are stood outside, hungry and abandoned.

These posters were published in 1910/1915 and prohibition did not come into effect until January 1920. It therefore shows the problems of the growing addiction to alcohol, saloons and crime that were with the nation well before Prohibition. These posters were an example for people against alcohol and for people to agree with prohibition.

Both Sources C and D are, without a doubt, anti saloons and anti men spending all their money in the saloons and not on their families. It therefore follows that they are most probably for Prohibition although this cannot be said with 100% certainly as one can be against these issues without wanting a total ban on alcohol. However, these posters were published by the Anti-Saloon League. The League used the widespread dislike of the saloon among ‘respectable’ Americans to fuel prohibition zeal and eventually the League, with others did succeed in establishing Prohibition in the American constitution. The sources also show a sign of propaganda because its over exaggerated. This is because the anti saloons wanted to emphasise the evil of alcohol.

In source E John D. Rockefeller mentions a few reliable aspects in the letter about prohibition. He says that drinking has increased, I know this is true because it says in another text “alcohol became more attractive.” He also mentions that the speakeasy has replaced the saloons. I know this is reliable because in a history book it says, “speakeasies opened in there thousands.” Rockefeller says that a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared. In a history book it says that, “thousands of illegal distilleries and brewers were in operation throughout the USA.”

This was a letter written by John D. Rockefeller in 1932, just 1 year before prohibition ended. This makes it very reliable because he has lived through it and knows everything that has happened and gone wrong. Also what makes it reliable is that he admits that he was wrong because he had hoped prohibition would be widely supported by public opinion, but in fact he changes his mind and came to believe this had not been the result. Rockefeller was a very educated well-respected man for his wealth and philanthropy, which meant that when he would say something people would tend to listen.

Source F is John F. Kramer giving a speech to enforce prohibition. He wanted prohibition to be obeyed in all the cities. Everything he didn’t want to happen happened. He didn’t want alcohol sold or given away but this did happen because it says in history books that, “other people bought their whisky from bootleggers.” People would smuggle alcohol and substances from different countries. This was known as “smuggling”

John F. Kramer was the first prohibition commissioner, which means he is biased because he’s not going to say that prohibition’s going to fail and not succeed, its his job to enforce prohibition. The source was also written in 1920. This means that prohibition has just been introduced and he doesn’t know the outcome of it or how the public will support it.

In conclusion I fell that the source that is the more reliable as evidence about prohibition is source E. This is because Rockefeller has lived through the period of prohibition and knows everything that has happened. There’s more information in source E about prohibition than source F. Also Kramer in source F is biased and not believable, where as Rockefeller is a good man and very reliable.

Source G shows a table of illegal stills seized and gallons of spirits seized between 1921, 1925 and 1929. During this period of time the federal government agents were trying to enforce prohibition. By looking at the table both illegal stills seized and gallons of spirits seized the numbers increased over the years, which is showing us that prohibition was succeeding. However this is not very reliable because the numbers may have been fixed, because if the federal agents can make it look as if prohibition is succeeding they will get credit and the public may start to support the law. I also know that the numbers in the table have been boosted up because the same table is in the Steven Waugh history book, and it shows the gallons of distilled spirits seized at the period of 1925 and 1929 to be ten million under. Also from the Steven Waugh history book it says, “……take control by bribing local policemen.” This means that the federal agents weren’t doing their job and enforcing prohibition, so how would the numbers go up if they don’t do their job.

Source H shows a table of the drunk, drunk and disorderly conduct and drunk drivers between 1920, 1923 and 1925. By looking at the table the results show that there was an increase over the years for drunk and drunk drivers, but there was a decrease in drunk and disorderly conduct. This could be seen as evidence that prohibition was successful because it has made an impact on drunk and disorderly conduct. If this is the case however, why is it that drunk and drunk drivers increased? The numbers in this table as for source G may have been fixed. The numbers in the table seem to contradict each other, which therefor makes it a less reliable source.

The source comes from the Philadelphia police department, showing the number of arrests for drinking related offences, 1920-25. The results of the table based by the city of Philadelphia and not around the rest of the country, so prohibition may have been succeeding in other cities. The numbers could still be fixed because the police were corrupt.

These two sources do not prove that prohibition was successful due to the fact that they are unreliable and there is no sufficient evidence to show me that it was succeeding. Also I feel that the federal government agents and the Philadelphia police department are being biased because they weren’t enforcing prohibition due to the fact that they were taking bribes, so they would have to boost their numbers to make it look as if they were doing their work. They didn’t want it to look as if prohibition was failing.

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