Prohibition, Why Did Americans Change Their Minds? Alcohol was thought to be the source of several of the nation’s problems. Issues like domestic violence, unemployment and poverty. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union first introduced the idea of prohibition, the illegalization of the buying, selling or consumption of alcohol. Prohibition was made official in 1919 as Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the proposal. Prohibition took effect one year later in 1920.
In the beginning, prohibition had an overwhelming amount of popularity from most of the country however Americans quickly changed their mind. Prohibition ended in 1933 with the 21st amendment to the Constitution. The increase in crime across the nation, several negative financial aspects of prohibition, and the eventual increase in corruption and loss of national restriction were all factors in the nation’s sudden change of heart. Perhaps the largest factor in the change was the overall increase in crime.
The most horrifying statistic from the Prohibition Era was the dramatic increase in homicides. Information taken from a FBI statistical report on homicides states that there was an excess of 9 homicides for every 100,000 people. There were more homicides during prohibition than during the upcoming decades, including both World War I and World War II (excluding deaths during combat). In order to continue the supply of alcohol, now illegal, underground operations began popping up in urban cities.
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Bootleggers ranged from middle class citizens and their homemade moonshine to an elaborate network complete with a supplier and several customers. With limits on law enforcement and the extent of U. S. jurisdiction, it was easy for people to get around the law. The distance off a U. S. coastline and boarders proved to be difficult areas for law enforcement to maintain. Bootleggers could often get out of U. S. jurisdiction and across the border to either Mexico or Canada where alcohol was completely legal for sale and consumption.
Another reason Americans changed their opinion was the negative effect prohibition had on several different financial aspects. Prohibition took away an enormous amount of income from the government, first with the absence of sales tax on the illegal merchandise. Any alcohol sold there could be no sales tax and thus gained no profit for the government. For all the tax that could have been collected the country could have paid off their national debt with a surplus of $200,000,000 dollars according to research titled The Last Crusade written by Leslie Gordon.
But first and fore most prohibition shut down factories. Manufacturers had to shut down plants putting Americans out of a job. Job loss gave prohibition a negative outlook. The third reason Americans eliminated prohibition in 1933 was the corruption at a government level and the loss of national restriction needed to enforce prohibition laws and limits. Stated by Mabel Willebrandt, Deputy U. S. Attorney General for Prohibition Enforcement, Senators, Congressmen and various government officials, disobeyed prohibition. The very people who put it into effect didn’t follow it.
And with the lack of law enforcement, only 3,500 state agents and flying squadrons monitoring the country’s borders, crimes slipped passed the eyes of the police constantly. Crimes also occurred within the country unnoticed by police officers, causing assumptions towards law enforcement with questions on their relationship and involvement with the bootleggers and underground operations. Prohibition put the country in chaos. The increase in crime, lack of income for families and the government, and the government corruption and loss of restriction all became facctors in America’s decision to repeal prohibition.
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