Prohibition took place between January 1920 and December 1933, and was
the statutory prevention of the manufacture, sale and transportation
of alcoholic beverages in the USA. The policy emerged from the First
World War and the moral climate of the United States at the time.
Prohibition was and still is a source of discussion and debate, making
it a highly contentious issue. Seen by many as the 'great experiment'
of the 20th century, public opinion on the restriction was split, and
prohibition was bound from the outset to be controversial.
The social and cultural climate in America during the early 1900s was
changing. Many American people were desperate to hang on to the
Christian ideas of the 19th century. It was this feeling that helped
the development of pro-prohibition groups, the main one being the
Anti-Saloon League. Formed in 1896, they focused only on the legal
prohibition of alcoholic beverages and were very successful, forcing
28 states into adopting prohibition laws before 1920. Supporters of
prohibition tended to live in small towns in the South or West, were
Protestant and voted Republican. Some religious groups saw alcohol as
'the work of the devil'. Women's groups like the WCTU felt alcohol
oppressed them through men; big businesses saw drunkenness as a reason
for inefficiency and danger in the workplace.
The prohibitionists were very powerful, and the First World War helped
this. During the war grain was needed for food, so people felt it was
patriotic to not have a drink. Also, sobriety was seen as part of the
'brave new world' to be created after the war. These fact...
... middle of paper ...
...nt to the constitution, repealing prohibition.
Prohibition was such a controversial issue in the 1920s because it was
fairly quickly shown to be pointless. While the government battled on
people kept on drinking. The 'drys' lost all their power and public
opinion of the 'great experiment' changed. It was disputed and debated
so much because it was continued when it was obviously a failure.
Nothing good was coming out of prohibition during the 1920s, in fact
deaths and injuries were rising because of it. Experiments on such a
scale as this will always be controversial. But the difference with
prohibition was that at the start it wasn't a hugely controversial
issue; it grew and developed into one. It was due to government
stubbornness and inefficiency that social unrest and criminal activity
prevailed in 1920s America.
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