Powerful Essays
The Roaring Twenties can be described as a period in American history in which people broke boundaries, went against tradition, and simply went to far. A new life style developed during this period, with money, jazz, gangster wars, the flapper, loose morals, speakeasies, and the abundance of liquor. The decade has also been entitled the New Era, the New Freedom, the Golden Era, the Lawless Decade, and the Jazz Age. The 1920s were given these names due to the lax view of the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act. The laws were literally ignored for the 13 years they were in effect. Prohibition was meant to cause nationwide revolution in morality. In actuality, it did the direct opposite. Prohibition and the general disregard that followed it has become a distinguished symbol of the Roaring Tweinties. In fact, the prohibition law itself was an extremely significant factor in effecting the culture of the 1920s, and the carefree lifestyle and feeling of rebellion and invincibility are also connections to the prohibition that took place.
The change in American lifestyle began even before the prohibition law was passed. Several months prior to January 16, 1920 (when the 18th amendment and the Volstead Act were scheduled to go into effect), there were warehouse robberies, cellar stock ups of liquor, and burglaries of these very cellars. Some called it the beginning of the age of hijacking as well (Chidsey 73). However, the law didn’t affect alcohol consumption or the brewing and distilling companies.
In the early 1900s, when Prohibition was imminent, brewers supported the saloonkeepers as much as customers did. A beer company would finance a saloonkeeper if he agreed to only sell his sponsor’s beer. Problems arose, though, when other saloons that were supported by other beer companies opened in the same area. Those saloons began to stay open on Sundays and after closing hours to make more money. If the first saloonkeeper wanted to stay open, he would be forced to pay off the police. His alternative if he didn’t stay open late: he would go out of business (Chidsey 59-60). During Prohibition, the same ideology applied to the speakeasies.
Usually Americans had always been viewed as a law-abiding people (Chidsey 79). This changed with the advent of Prohibition. For example, speakeasies were illegal saloons which caused crime, and a newfound immorality in people. As thes...

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...ery expensive, and was sometimes out of the working man’s price range (Perrett 177). In this way, productivity increased during Prohibition, because it had “cut down sharply on absenteeism, especially on Monday mornings” (Perrett 337-8). This caused workers to turn to other, safer amusements besides drinking, like the radio, movies, and automobiles (Perrett 178). All of these amusements increased extremely rapidly during the Prohibition Era.
The Anti-Saloon League foresaw a much better America without liquor. However, both wets and drys agreed that Prohibition did not work. Prohibtion shaped the Roaring Twenties in numerous ways. It promoted the rebellion because people thought that it violated their rights to live by their own standards and do whatever they wanted to (and drink whenever they wanted to). By breaking the law frequently, American people developed lax morals, and felt that they were above and beyond the law. Women felt more freedom because they were also accepted in illegal bars. Jazz was created in the nightclubs that developed from the speakeasies. People also spent more money in these nightclubs. Gangsters and their beer wars developed as a result of Prohibition.
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