Prohibition was a period of time in which the sale, manufacture, or transport of alcoholic beverages became illegal. It started January 16, 1919 and continued to December 5, 1933. Although it was designed to put an end to all drinking, it simply created a large number of bootleggers who produced and sold illegal alcohol. Many of these bootleggers became very rich and influential through selling alcohol and also through other methods. They pioneered the practices of organized crime that are still used today. Thus, Prohibition led to the rapid growth of organized crime.
The introduction of prohibition in 1919 created numerous opinions and issues in American society. Prohibition had been a long standing issue in America, with temperance organizations promoting it since the late eighteenth century. The movement grew tremendously during the nineteenth century. The Independent Order of Good Templars, one of the major temperance societies, increased it's membership by 350,000 between 1859 and 1869 (Behr 31). Other societies followed a similar trend, and millions of Americans belonged to temperance societies by the end of the nineteenth century. When the United States entered World War I in 1914, there was a shortage of grain due to the large demands to feed the soldiers. Since grain is one of the major components in alcohol, the temperance movement now had the war to fuel their fight. "The need to conserve grain, the importance of maintaining some semblance of discipline and devotion .... to demonstrate the nation's sober determination to protect its interests." (Repeal .. 1933) Thus, the war played a large part in the introduction of Prohibition. During the next five years many states enacted their own prohibition laws, and final...
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...d crime, failed to be eliminated by the repeal. Although bootlegging became a thing of the past, other methods such as extortion, money laundering, and racketeering continued and became more prominent. "The bootleg wars ended with the relegalization of liquor, but the mobs did not fade away ... In one form or another, these mobs are still with us today." (Gingold 39)
Prohibition led to organized crime as we know it today. Men like Al Capone got their start during Prohibition and were able to develop a system whose methods led into the Mafia and other forms of modern day crime. "Prohibition produced the like of Al Capone and organized crime, speak-easies, bootleggers, bathtub gin, and a national wildness called the "roaring twenties." (McGuire 1) Prohibition turned the small gangs that existed in the early twentieth century into the powerful Mafia that exists today.
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