On March 22 1933, FDR ended one of the most controversial issues of the 1920′s, “prohibition.” He ratified the 21st amendment to allow prohibition. This was a muh needed amendment that gave people suffering the depression jobs, as well as bringing revenue into the cities. The abolishion of prohibition gave Roosevelt a good name and helped him earn support from cities that supported the abolishion of prohibition. The political cartoon above depicts a man who just opened a bar in 1933 shortly after alcohol was legalized. Legalizing the sale of alcohol was clearly not a mistake as it has been nearly 80 years since the legalization and we rarely see protestors. The repealing of prohibiton was one of the first efforts and a giant step to ending the depression.
The prohibition of alcohol was a long and debatable topic. Everything was truly against the law, drinking, selling, importing, manufacturing and transportation. Prohibition was instituted by the 18th amendment which was ratified in 1919. Prohibition can also be defined as a legal term which analyzes the environment where the law was actually enforced! Eventually what prohibition did was worse than good, it created an atmosphere of illegal and criminal behavior. It created a route for “organized crime.” If an individual could not get it the right way, they found it another way. The life term of this amendment was not very long, its unpopularity forced it to be taken back into courts, and in 1933, it was up to the individual states to do as they pleased with alcohol.
While I agree with Foners description of the Prohibition Act, I don’t believe he provided the right amount of time and information. The Prohibition Act was a very significant change in US laws and lifestyle. It involved an amendment and a ratification of the amendment and I feel Foner should have paid more attention to it. The whole issue of prohibition was a real debated issue and a lot of the supporting opinions argued back then are argued today with many issues the United States are facing. The image above, taken from cartoonstock.com depicts the closing of the saloons/bars during the days of prohibition.
Foner’s explanation of how prohibition came in to effect was informative. He gave reason’s for why the public supported the ban of alcoholic beverages such as the adverse changes to family life and the fact that many breweries were german-american run and by purchasing liquor during war time with Germany, it bring’s upon a sense of treason. The political cartoon accompanied support’s the prohibition of alcohol by reinforcing the explanations given by foner. Although Foner’s coverage on how prohibition came into effect, he could have went into detail about the ramifications that followed after alcohol became contraband such as the bootlegger’s who would secretly sell their home made liquor from speakeasies and the criminal gangs that deveoped as a result of this ban
One important change that occurred during World War I (The Great War) was the 18th Amendment, or better known as prohibition. As one reads Foner’s recollection of the Prohibition, you notice that Foner mentions the reasoning and support behind the 18th amendment. Even though he seems to mention every reason sarcastically, he doesn’t mention the outcome of prohibition in regard to ethical fathers/husbands, calm workers, etc. And he most certainly doesn’t mention the development of bootleggers and speakeasies that lead to the huge expansion of crime. On another note, neither did Foner mention, nor was I privy to the knowledge that during the prohibition many officers were trigger happy and caused the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of innocents as depicted by the picture below.
Prohibition is one of the drastic changes that happened during the course of World War I. Looking through the course of American history, it is perhaps unbelievable that alcohol, one of the foundations of pleasure for many citizens, would be banned. On top of that, the banned was even written in an amendment, which is ridiculously difficult to be passed. Although Eric Foner only spent a little more than half page on the topic, he was able to inform us about many details of the topic. In three paragraphs, he had informed me things that I didn’t know, such as 1) how the Anti-German attitude generated hatred toward German breweries, 2) labor reformers wanted prohibition to have a more disciplined work force, and 3) the Baptists and Methodist were opposing drinking in a political way. Foner may not have given us a full picture of prohibition, but he did well to inform us by squeezing in as much information as possible in three paragraphs.
The 18th Amendment banned alcohol and allowed organized crime to make fortunes in the bootlegging business. Fortunes that spawned later political and musical careers, the alleged fixing of the world series, and an entire city, Los Vegas.