The Evils Of Prohibition Essay, Research Paper
If a child is given no candy, will he not still crave it? That was the idea behind theEighteenth amendment, also called Prohibition or the Volestead act. The Eighteenth amendment prohibited the selling, making, and transporting of alcohol. Many people intended to follow the law, but found it too hard to control themselves. The Eighteenth amendment was meant to reduce the crime rate, augment the worker efficiency, and temperate the parental neglect troubling America. The Volestead act, however, was not as good as it was intended to be. In spite of the fact that it was an essential part of the image of the 1920 s, Prohibition brought about many complications. The rash and thoughtless passing of the eighteenth amendment only amplified America s internal problems rather than eased them as promised. Although written with good intentions, Prohibition failed because of the immense lack of enforcement, the widespread corruption in government, and the rapid increase of organized crime. Fiorella H. LaGuardia once said: Nobody knows whether Prohibition is a good thing or a bad thing; it has never been enforced. One problem with enforcement was that there were never enough agents to stop the alcohol from getting to the thirsty. There were only 1500 agents for the 3,000,000 square miles of land. That is one agent for every 2,000 square miles. Whenever an occasional raid occurred, the government cameras were usually there to videotape it. (See figure 1) These raids were not very effective because for every bottle smashed by the government agents, at least one hundred passed. All over the country there were as many as 500,000 illegal bars called speak-easies. The speak-easies were lavish, luxurious, and very profuse. Even though they lacked thriftiness, The speak-easies brought quick money to the hands of theirowners. As they grew wealthier, the owners opened even more of these illegal bars. Most of the liquor drunk in America, however, was imported. Besides their worries on land, the coast guard had hundreds of miles of foggy beaches to patrol. Even after Calvin Coolige equipped the coast guard with new boats and more men, the rum-runners were still on top of the game with faster and more agile boats. Many bootleggers had breweries and distilleries in Canada and smuggled the liquor into America by boats, also called rum-runners. Although the largest problem with rum-runners was not in the open seas, but on the calm waters of the Detroit River. Across from the first major city to go dry was Canada, a soaking wet country equipped with some of the largest distilleries in North America. The temptation was too great for the people who crossed over on the daily ferries. Some brought back a bottle for a friend or two. Smuggling whiskey over such a narrow strip of water didn t take much- a fast boat and an entrepreneurial spirit. The Detroit River was mapped by a dotted line, but as Police Commissioner Roy Hanes complained, It is impossible to stop liquor from dripping through a dotted line. After Prohibition passed, America experienced a large augmentation of crime. What
was once supposed to create a violence-free utopia, ended up causing even more deaths. The cause of most of the homicides at that time, was the competition for business between large bootleggers. Prohibition also caused organized crime to burgeon. It gave poor criminals a chance to get extremely wealthy. Al Capone was the most influential bootlegger in the history of Chicago. When I came to Chicago, I had only forty dollars in my pocket. States he. I went into business that was open, and didn t do anybody any harm. Although he tried to maintain a generous father figure to Chicago, he was a cold blooded killer. It was Capone and his gang who were responsible for the infamous St. Valentines Day Massacre in which seven men lost their lives. Statistically, the death rate was drastically up. The homicide rate was up from 1:100,000 to 8:100,000. Domestic violence was up from 9% to 13%. The government also had no way of controlling the quality of the alcohol out on the black market, so deaths from alcohol poisoning also went up from 1,064 per year to 4,154 per year. Another reason why the Prohibition failed was that the government officials grew so morally corrupt. Since the government agents made very little money, they were forced to take bribes just to make ends meet. Issuing a false medical permit for distributing whiskey nearly doubled an agent s income. Some agents were dedicated drinkers themselves, so instead of destroying the whiskey as they were supposed to, they took it home. The enforcement agents were not the only ones on the wrong side of the law. The current President at the time, Warren Harding, did not believe in Prohibition; he only used the dry law as his ticket into office. As you may have guessed, Harding was not a perfect man himself. Fathering a child by a 20-year-old shop girl, as well as being a heavy drinker, Harding was liable to blackmail and therefore shut his eyes to the criminal doings of his adviser, Harry Dordy. Dordy probably was the most dishonestofficial of all time. Harry Dordy took large bribes from large bootleggers, like George Rhemus, to keep them out of prison. But the king of all bribery was Al Capone. This opulent bootlegger practically owned Chicago. The best money Capone ever spent was on his own mayor, Bill Thompson, who was away hunting for months at a time, so Capone and his gang had the authority to do whatever they wished. Prohibition was an enormous mistake in America s history. It contributed sufficiently to the cause of the great depression and the development of the modern Mafia. Even so, some individuals, as well as political parties today still consider prohibition to be a great idea. After the twenty first amendment was passed to repeal the Prohibition, people who were still against alcohol were thought of as religious, old fashioned fanatics who were blind to Prohibition s appalling results among which were the troublesome deficiency of money and manpower to enforce the laws, severe nepotism of government officials, and the evolvement of organized crime. 4.