Prohibition And Its Harmful Effects Essay

1732 words - 7 pages

Topic: Prohibition and Its Harmful Effects
Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, early colonists have attempted to control the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States. Prominent people like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin were once leading figures in the Temperance movements that started in early Colonial times. The first temperance society in the United States was begun in New York in 1808 which begun a long battle between reformers and the American public for years to come. The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as of the agitation of the nineteenth century temperance movements ...view middle of the document...

They believed that if this were achieved they would be able to preach their moral beliefs to the nation. Prohibition was enacted because rural, small town Americans, who were attempting to stop what they felt, was the corrupting influence of the growing cities, held the highest population in the most of the government positions in Washington D.C. Many Americans who were not rural Americans or Protestant also believed that alcohol ruined lives. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was an organization founded in 1874 and it was made of up of Protestant women who argued that alcohol consumption was related to a poor environment, the group fought for better working conditions of the working class (The Reader’s Companion to American History 1157). This organization of women also fought for the banning of alcohol to protect families. The women believed that alcohol ruined their lives because sometimes men who drank and had wives were abusive, destructive and sometimes they ended up spending all the families’ income that was needed to live.
Other organizations also fought for the passing of Prohibition laws. Two of the most important organizations included the National Prohibition Party founded in 1869 and the Anti-Saloon League founded in 1893. Of the two the one that had the most effect on society was the Anti-Saloon League. They were organized at the grass-roots level, working through churches and carefully questioning politicians about their views on temperance and then endorsing or opposing them accordingly, No matter what their stands on other issues, their party affiliation, or their progressivism. The League worked closely with the small Prohibition Party. The Anti- Saloon League had a considerable national influence when it helped pass the Volstead Act on October 28th, 1919 (The Reader’s Companion to American History 41).
The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment. The act was passed over President’s Woodrow Wilson’s Veto, affirmed and further specified the provisions of the Eighteenth Amendment, delineated fines and prison terms for violation of the law, empowered the Bureau of Internal Revenue to administer Prohibition, and classified as alcoholic all beverages containing more than one-half percent alcohol by volume. (The Reader’s Companion to American History 1122). Federal agents, in desperate times often spilled beer and liquor directly into the gutters to prove to opposers that the law under the Volstead Act would be enforced. Many opposers believed it was an infringement of their rights, and out of tune with the times of wealth, automobiles, travel, radio, motion pictures, and good times. Soon there was great split in American Society—the “wets”, which believed the law an ineffective unnecessary restriction on personal choice, generally urban Americans, versus the “drys”, rural Americans who supported the amendment. This split made enforcement difficult. President Coolidge signed...

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