We all see the changes that America goes through on a daily basis – but many remain curious about the fate of the American people during the Prohibition Era.
The Prohibition Era started around 1917 after the United States joined World War I. The Prohibition Movement started because of a religious revival.
A temporary prohibition was enacted in order to use less grain to save food. Around the same time, in order to address alcohol abuse, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment, banning the production and transportation of all intoxicating liquors. American states gave the support required to ratify the amendment within eleven months.
Ratified in 1919, the 18th Amendment went into full effect in 1920.
The Prohibition was meant to help advance the American community, although it did the exact opposite. Instead of slimming alcohol abuse, a large amount of Americans ended up drinking more. Even police officers were corrupted, drinking alcohol and taking bribes. During this time, millions of Americans were arrested for drinking illegally.
Those who wanted to continue selling alcohol were known as bootleggers. Usually, bootleggers would make moonshine using homemade moonshine stills, and then go to speakeasies to sell their alcohol. Speakeasies were special clubs used to obtain illegal alcohol.
Gangs were also notorious during the Prohibition Era. An infamous gang was run by Al Capone. His gang, well known in Chicago for bootlegging, earned about $60M annually.
Supporters of the Prohibition believed that a financial boom was on the horizon. However, in 1920, thousands of Americans lost their jobs as restaurants and bars had to close. The government felt the greatest effect of the Prohibition. Many states relied heavily on alcohol sales tax. At the state level, around 11 billion dollars were lost.
Despite the loss of thousands of jobs, many factory owners supported the prohibition to increase efficiency and prevent accidents.
Franklin D. Roosevelt knew how badly the Prohibition was affecting the American people. When he ran for President in 1932, his platform involved ending the Prohibition.
After Roosevelt took office, the 21st Amendment was passed by Congress on February 20, 1933. This effectively repealed the 18th Amendment. The Prohibition officially ended in December, with Utah being the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment.
Overall, the Prohibition Era was an interesting time for American citizens. In trying to do the right thing, Congress and the states learned a valuable lesson about vices. In the end, the American people got their alcohol.