20th Century Background for Prohibition • Reformers wanted addressed several problems in society: • Workplace safety • Women and children • Large corporations and controlling over American society • Government not being more responsive to the people • MORALITY (improving people’s lives) • Prohibition (banning of alcoholic beverages) • Led to tensions with immigrant groups, whose customs often included the consumption of alcohol Lyman Beecher was a famous social activist of the day who was particularly concerned about the negative impact of alcohol on society.
In the 1850 engraving, "The Drunkard's Home," a cowering family in a squalid home is subjected to the whims of a brutal patriarch. Temperance Cartoons By contrast, the 1850 engraving, "The Temperance Home," depicts a scene of domestic harmony, order, affection, and material comfort.
An Early Crusader • Billy Sunday • Reformer/Preacher • Worked at Chicago YMCA • Gave him first-hand experience with the destructive potential of alcohol • Famous “Booze” Sermon: • I am the sworn, eternal and uncompromising enemy of the liquor traffic. I have been, and will go on, fighting that damnable, dirty, rotten business with all the power at my command • I challenge you to show me where the saloon has ever helped business, education, church morals or anything we hold dear
Early Temperance (Sobriety) MovementsThe Women’s Christian Temperance Union • The WCTU fought for prohibition reform. • GOAL WAS ENDING PRODUCTION, SALE, AND CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL (SIN) • Frances Willard was the national president of the union from 1879 to 1898. • Composed of mostly women angered by men who abused their wives and children
Carrie Nation: The Saloon Smasher • Member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union. • Known for bursting into barrooms, wielding a hatchet or hammer, and smashing the saloon. • Between 1900 and 1910, Nation was arrested some thirty times for her aggressive tactics • Also beaten by saloon owners wives and threatened by mobs.
Another Temperance MovementThe Anti-Saloon League SALOONS • Targeted? • The Anti-Saloon League focused only on the legal prohibition of alcoholic beverages. • Printed anti-drinking brochures, appealed to church members for support, and lobbied both lawmakers and businessmen. • Wayne Wheeler Members of the Anti-Saloon League meet in Chicago.
A glass of wine is not a sin Take a little for your stomach’s sake… LOOK- What is the message of this cartoon?
LOOK- Is this Cartoon For or Against The Banning of Alcohol ? Why?
But the Saloons had many purposes • Filled several roles in many immigrant communities • Served inexpensive meals • Cashed paychecks • Mail • Provided rooms for any purpose from weddings to wakes, political meetings to union headquarters • Vote • Find out who’s hiring
Why Prohibition? • End drunkenness • Eliminate alcohol-related deaths (accidents at work) • Stop domestic abuse • Decrease crime • Abolish the saloon • Safer roads • Different uses for money • Decrease taxes • End moral grandeur (feared alcohol was undermining American culture and values)
Why Prohibition? Reality: • AT FIRST, saloons closed doors and arrests for drunkenness DECLINED • BUT in the aftermath of WW1, Americans were tired of make sacrifices – want to ENJOY LIFE (and didn’t consider drinking to be a sin BUT A NATURAL PART OF SOCIALIZING) • End drunkenness • Eliminate alcohol related deaths • Decrease crime • Abolish the saloon • Safer roads • Different uses for money • Decrease taxes • End moral grandeur (feared alcohol was undermining American culture and values)
WETS ARGUED AGAINST PROHIBITION Claimed: • Did not stop Americans drinking • Turned law abiding citizens into criminals • Created illegalnetworks (ex: Organized Crime) • Violence • Corruption of officials
BUT at midnight of January 16, 1920 IT HAPPENED • The 18th Amendment was put into effect and all: • Importing • Exporting • Transporting • Selling • Manufacturing • of intoxicating liquor was put to an end • What’s missing? In reality… Prohibition simply made the consumption of alcohol more of a challenge and more expensive The rich had liquor delivered to their homes and the poor drank beer which was close to water, or spirits which were close to poison.
The Volstead Act • Established a Prohibition Bureau in the Treasury Dept. (enforce the 18th Amendment) • President Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act on constitutional grounds. • His veto was overridden by Congress. Special stamps were required for medicinal liquors under the Volstead Act.
"A Noble Experiment" • Under Prohibition Bureau (underfunded and understaffed – 1,550 federal agents) had to: • Patrol 18,700 miles of coastline and inland borders • Track down illegal stills (equipment for distilling liquor) • Monitor highways for truckloads of illegal alcohol • Oversee all industries that legally used alcohol (medicinal and religious). The black market for alcohol was a boon (benefit) for organized crime Detroit police discover a clandestine still
For example: • Within the first hours of the Volstead Act taking effect there were already liquor robberies and hijackings. • And within the following month the first federal agents were arrested for liquor law corruption. • Thousands of phony prescriptions for liquor were issued by physicians who tried to make profit of this new law
With the legal exception for medicinal reasons…. • Pharmacists were allowed to dispense whiskey by prescription for any number of ailments, ranging from anxiety to influenza. • Bootleggers quickly discovered that running a pharmacy was a perfect front for their trade. So what is going to happen to the number of Pharmacists? As a result, the number of registered pharmacists in New York State tripledduring the Prohibition era.
And with the religious exemptions… • Because Americans were also allowed to obtain wine for religious purposes, enrollments at churches and synagogues, and cities saw a large increase in the number of self-professed rabbis who could obtain wine for their congregations ROSE
Cultural Reaction to Prohibition? Bert Williams 1919 Songs of Prohibition • Moonshiner • Prohibition is a failure • Goodbye Old Booze • The Old Home Brew • Others…
Cultural reaction to Prohibition None of it came to pass. • Prohibitionists expected sales of clothing and household goods to skyrocket. • Real estate developers and landlords expected rents to rise as saloons closed and neighborhoods improved. • Chewing gum, grape juice, and soft drink companies all expected growth. • Theater producers expected new crowds as Americans looked for new ways to entertain themselves without alcohol.
Unintended NEGATIVE consequences… • Restaurants failed, as they could no longer make a profit without legal liquor sales. • Theater revenues declined rather than increase, and few of the other economic benefits that had been predicted came to pass. The closing of breweries, distilleries and saloons led to the elimination of thousands of jobs, and in turn thousands more jobs were eliminated for barrel makers, truckers, waiters, and other related trades.
Reaction to Prohibition? Before Prohibition there were 15,000 bars in New York. By 1926 there were 30,000 speakeasies! • Drinkers went underground to hidden saloons and nightclubs known as SPEAKEASIES (liquor sold illegally) • Found EVERYWHERE • To be admitted, you needed PASSWORD (ex: Joe sent me or Green Mill), special knock, or special card
Reaction to Prohibition? • As time went on, people grew bolder in getting around the law • Ex: • Hardware Stores – sold cheap mills and books and magazines explaining how to distill liquor from apples, watermelon, and even potato peelings Also had the emergence of the BOOTLEGGER (named for smuggler’s practice of carrying liquor in the legs of their boots
Moonshine • Spirit made secretly in home made stills • Several hundred people a year died from this during the 1920s • In 1929 it is estimated that 700 million gallons of beer were produced in American homes Famous Smuggler: William McCoy Made fortune by bringing alcohol from West Indies & Canada
Organized Crime • The enormous profits to be made attracted gangsters who started to take control of many cities. • They bribed the police, judges and politicians. • They controlled the speakeasies and the distilleries, and ruthlessly exterminated their rivals.
Biggest threat to the bootlegger…not the cops but… Hijacking • Locations of the warehouses with the liquor stock and equipment were kept very secretly • How to solve this problem(of the goods of getting stolen during the transportation)? Gunmen were hired As a side effect of prohibition, also the illegal gun-market arose to be a profitable business. . Arthur Flegenheimer
One such gunman was:Vernon C. Miller • Former sheriff that became a freelance gunman for a number of Midwest bootleggers and racketeers. • Also a bootlegger himself and bank robber
Why would the politicians get involved with the gangsters? • Relationship between the • UNDERWORLD and UPPERWORLD • In return, political figures offered little interference to underworld criminal activity. • *Bribery of police officials was common. • Patterns of corruption-reform-corruption-reform mixed sham investigations with public hearings (public perception). • Business interests promoted corruption and graft ( bribery) • Business and political figures took money and personal services from underworld figures. • Plus underworld helped them to get re-elected
The most famous of the gangsters of the 1920s was Al Capone (Southsiders of Chicago) • By 1927 he was earning some $60 million a year from bootlegging. • He had 700 men under his control. • - He was responsible for over 500 murders. • ex: Killed Dion O’Banion and Hymie Weiss (Northsiders) • “Bugs” Moran swore vengeance against Capone –
But since Gangsters ran bootlegging industries and were turning huge profits… On 14th February 1929, Capone’s men dressed as police officers murdered 7 members of a rival Northsiders gang (thought “Bugs” Moran was there) This became known as the ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’ Americans were shocked they became rivals with other gangs, especially in big cities, leading to more violent crime.
The 21st Amendment • Prohibition was unenforceable. • Many deaths occurred from bootleg liquor. • Political corruption increased. • Smuggling grew out of control. • During the Depression the potential jobs and tax revenue from the legalization of liquor increasingly attractive to struggling Americans. • Thus, in 1933, the noble experiment of Prohibition came to a close with the ratification of the 21st Amendment