Cultural Context: Alcohol Essay

Cultural Context: Alcohol Essay

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Cultural Context: Alcohol

Alcohol has always been a controversial topic in the United States for social, political, and religious reasons. The negative effects of drinking came to the foreground of American concern during the early twentieth century. This was a time of great prosperity followed by the Great Depression. Both of these eras led Americans to turn to or against liquor as the cause or demise of their success. Prohibition marked a change in the American way of life and is best documented by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in their contemporary works. Both of these authors grappled with alcohol use and abuse within their own lives and writing.

On 12:01 a.m. on July 16, 1920 the 18th Amendment went into effect, marking the beginning of a thirteen-year period of national Prohibition in the United States. The movement had existed for decades, but it was not until President Wilson and his southern Democrats came to Washington did it get national momentum, (Parrish, 96). Those who were in favor of Prohibition were collectively known as “the drys.” The group was generally composed of members of two sub-groups: the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Anti-Saloon League. The Anti-Saloon League considered themselves “an army of the Lord to wipe out the curse of drink,” (Sann, 26). A large majority of the prohibitionists were church-going, Protestant women from small-towns. The divide in opinion between the cities and the rural and suburban areas was so great that the passage of the 18th Amendment was considered a major cultural victory over large cities (Parrish, 97).

The call for temperance was supported by progressive reformers who viewed the “Devil’s Brew” as the primary source ...

... middle of paper ...

...Company, 1992. p. 95-113

This was the most useful source in understanding the social context of Prohibition, its enforcement, and failure.

Sann, Paul. The Lawless Decade. New York : Crown Publishers, Inc, 1957. p. 21-24. 115-120

This book provided background information on the 1920s, the Jazz Age, and the role alcohol played during these time periods as well as the American response to Prohibition.

This article was extremely helpful in understanding the circumstances during Prohibition and how exactly citizens managed to undermine the law.

This article emphasized and provided a glimpse into the lawlessness of Prohibition and the operation of speakeasies.

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