The Reason for Prohibition in the USA in 1919

The Reason for Prohibition in the USA in 1919
In this essay it will be argued that there were many reasons why prohibition was introduced. The arguments of the various movements will be discussed, as well as the effect of wwi and patriotism. To begin with the law against the selling and making of alcohol in America was passed by congress in 1917, due to the eighteenth amendment; it didn?t come into effect until January 16th 1920 at precisely midnight. Shortly after the amendment had been passed, the ?National Prohibition Act? or the ?Volstead Act?, as it was called because of its Author J Volstead, was put into effect. This act prohibited the manufacture and selling of ?intoxicating liquors?. Intoxicating liquor was defined as any drink containing more than 0.5% of alcohol. With the exceptions of alcohol made uses such as medicine and industrial uses. Anti- drinking issues went as far back as 1830, when a group of women situated in the West and Midlands known as the rural areas set up a group called the ?Christian Women Temperance Union?. These women were predominantly Christians especially Methodists and white Anglo-Saxon protestants. They blamed alcohol for all types of diseases such as cholera, epilepsy, fever and murder.
They started off with illustrated publications to express their views on drinking. Then by 1876 they had their own ?National Temperance Almanac? One passage that was issued in ?Everybody?s Magazine? in 1917 was as follow ; Everyman who works on land to produce drink instead of bread is a loss in winning the war, and worse he may mean a dead soldier." By 1893 another anti-drinking group was formed called "Anti-Saloon League". They were also women situated in the rural areas. Their arguments were that fathers were spending all the money in the saloon on drink and their families had to suffer for it. The two real consequences were financial; where children and wives went without adequate education, clothing and food. The other consequence was father?s behaviour. Men drinking lead to more aggressive behaviour and a danger for children if alcohol was in the home. The behaviour leads to social problems. For e.g. men fighting in the saloon, which lead to prison as their punishment. In addition drink lead to vice, i.e. Adultery, lies, stealing and crime. As a result for these social problems almshouses were set up to help the poor get help. The Christians believed that the saloon was not a good place. In their eyes it was seen as a temptation that led to evil and it was looked upon as a Christian?s duty to take away all temptation. They believed god was against the saloon. Many men got so drunk that they could not turn up for mass on Sundays. This set a bad example for their children. The campaign began to get influential supporters. Big businessman believed that workers would be more reliable and efficient workmen if they didn?t drink. They supported the prohibition act as it was costing them dollars by the workmen not turning up for the work and be hardworking as they possible could. Neal Dow, a prosperous businessman in Portland, Maine, established the Young Men?s Abstinence Society. He also led the campaign that resulted in Maine passing the nation?s first prohibition law in 1846. The national prohibition party were for prohibition. Prohibitionists were the only party that consistently endorsed national woman suffrage, and a substantial part of the party?s convention delegates were women from the temperance union. The party was small and never got any votes because they were a two right wing party. Due to the effect of wwi it boosted the anti-drinking issue. Apart from the fact that alcohol was believed to make them ill, it was considered that soldiers were getting drunk and were not able to fire straight. So they needed efficient soldiers. They use propaganda toemphasise their views. American society showed offence to a lot of things one main issue to them were blacks, immigrants and communists most states were so racist they felt the banning of alcohol was another form of taking their freedom away from black people. I quote "â??it was a way of keeping the Negro in placeâ??" Germans were the brewers of most the alcohol drunk in America. A German company called ?Pabet and Burch? brewed lot of the beer that was drunk. Much of the grain and barley used in brewing could be used to produce rations for the allies so for these unpatriotic reasons food and fuel control act banned the use of grain for brewing alcohol. They looked at it upon as a patriotic move for the country. In conclusion there is a chain of events which lead up to the cause for prohibition. Each cause is very strong and has a lot of back up to agree with the banning of alcohol. I think the main cause would be the family issues. If it weren?t for the organisations serious actions would not have been made. I think the least reason would have to the national Prohibition Party because I feel they made no effect to the publics mind as they were a small right wing party. On the whole there is a variety of reasons and explanations of why prohibition was introduced.

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