This essay has a total of 1834 words and 7 pages.


“The Prohibition did not achieve its goals. Instead, it added to the problems it was
intended to solve.” (Thorton, 15) On January 16, 1920, a popular American pastime was
suddenly seized from the public, and labeled a crime. The 18th Amendment, known as the
Voltstead Act, was put into effect and attempted to efficiently remove the importing,
exporting, transporting, selling, and manufacturing of any liquor with an alcohol content
exceeding 0.5%. The law was passed in order to reduce crimes such as domestic violence,
rape, fighting, and automobile accidents. However, as the government failed in enforcing
the ban, the Prohibition Act led to far more serious problems than it was intended to
solve. Crime organizations, felonies, and an explosive growth in alcohol trade and
consumption erupted directly because of the inability, and lack of desire to control the
people from drinking. And the results of the Prohibition show that its goals backfired
entirely, as crime and drinking ended up increasing drastically.

Strong Temperance and Reform movements of the early 1900’s spawned to life the Prohibition
Act. These movements made the concept of “social good” as the backbone of their causes.
Social good was the desire to make society better and more efficient - economically,
politically, and morally speaking. Held highest was the need for strong morals in
cultures. They made alcohol consumption out to be a benefactor to the problems in society,
and blamed it for violence, spousal abuse, and worsened productivity in the labor forces
of the nation. Alcohol was basically the scapegoat the movements believed was the cause
for any and every domestic problem found within the nation. As the Temperance and Reform
Movements strengthened, more and more political pressure was put on to promote forms of
prohibiting the use of alcoholic beverages. By the elections of 1916, a large number of
prohibition advocates found their way into congressional offices. Not three years
afterwards, the 18th Amendment was finally ratified (1919), and then, in 1920, the
supporters of the Voltstead Act had their wish granted as the law went into effect. Little
did they realize that they had just given birth to organized crime and the beginning of 13
devastating years in American society.

Early 20th century organized crime was experiencing its most tumultuous days. The largest
gang in New York, the Eastman Gang, was falling into pieces, as was their rivals, the Five
Pointers. All across the nation, gangs and crime rings organized to operate as “enforcers
of the political machines of the big cities” were disbanding, or dying from internal gang
affairs. Reform movements had been effective in scaring away gangs and hitting other roots
of society’s problems. Without goals or environments to operate, organized crime was
nearly dead. But just as the nation seemed to have successfully beaten established
criminal families, the Prohibition Act came like an angel out of Heaven, giving incredible
fuel for more a rebirth of crime tenfold of what it used to be. The people were not swayed
by the fact that alcohol was banned as a criminal activity, and the mobsters took heed to
the call of the commoners. Gangs such as the Jewish Purple Gang quickly rerouted their
criminal activity from robbery and murder, to controlling the illegal flow of liquor from
Canada into Detroit. In Cleveland, the Mayfield Road Gang turned their attention to
alcohol, as well as New York’s Broadway Mob and gangs all over the country dedicated their
time to smuggling in booze and giving it to the corrupt speakeasies spreading throughout
the nation. The most infamous bootlegging came from Al Capone’s racketeering in Chicago,
which drew in about $60 million for Capone himself. Along with Capone, most organizations
were pulling in well over a million dollar’s profit from the illegal activity. Crime
syndicates were so lucrative that they were easily matching the largest businesses in the
country. Practically every mob, gang, and criminal running their business in the United
States had started out by petty felonies carried out by a few unorganized men in city
ghettoes. However, these gangs over time got smarter and more efficient in their looting
and murdering, and grew in size as well. What let these still paltry gangs break out into
large, incredibly powerful organizations was the Prohibition Act, as it gave rise to the
demand for a simple product where millions of dollars could be gained from acquiring it.
Bootlegging became a simple feat as syndicates created systems to which the booze was
smuggled from Mexico, Canada, or overseas, and then the bribing of law enforcement, and
sneaking the beer into speakeasies and other places of beer flow.

The entire bootlegging process enveloped more people into crime than there had ever been
before the Prohibition. As it started in foreign nations where the beer came from, through
US Customs officials and then into the country where the real payoffs and corruption
began. Each mob or gang had about 100 people on their payroll, including drivers,
bookkeepers, enforcers (hired thugs), messengers, guards, and people to scout for other
Continues for 4 more pages >>