Prohibiton Was A Failure Essay

This essay has a total of 1558 words and 7 pages.

Prohibiton Was A Failure

Prohibition Was A Failure!
Alcohol is illegal! "The reign of tears is over. The slums will soon be a memory. We will
turn our prisons into factories and our jails into storehouses and corncribs. Men will
walk upright now; women will smile and children will laugh. Hell will be forever rent"
(Thorton 9). The Eighteenth Amendment of the Constitution went into effect on January 16,
1920, with three-fourths vote from congress (Boorstin 994). The National Prohibition of
Alcohol was adopted to solve social problems, reduce the crime rate, stop corruption and
minimize the tax burden created by prisons. Some immediate results of the amendment
included organized crime and the corruption of public officials. As time went on, the
stock market crashed, the Great Depression began, and people no longer viewed Prohibition
as a question of moral values and standards, but as economics. Because of the economic
repercussions that our country endured during the thirteen years of Prohibition, the
Eighteenth Amendment was finally repealed. (Thorton 1).

In the beginning of Prohibition, many small-time bar owners and middlemen created
bootlegging services that provided illegal alcohol. Most of these people never gained a
great deal of income from it, but with the rough economic times of the 1920's,
particularly in the later part of the decade, any extra source of funds was another way to
provide for one's family. Despite the minimal success of these men, there was the
occasional exception who made millions of dollars on illegal and legal distribution.

Al Capone is possibly the most famous example of all American mobsters. He was raised in
Brooklyn and acquired the knowledge of petty crime at a young age. His underground mob
scene arose after his move to Chicago, where he worked his way and eventually became the
strongest underground mobster in the area. When the Prohibition started, Capone's gang
began running underground bootleg services all over the city of Chicago in abandoned
office buildings, bars, and nightclubs. By the end of the 1920's, Capone's illegal
alcoholic deliveries were making him more than $20 million a year. Because of all this
fame and fortune, Capone started gaining underground political power as well as an
extensive underground crime organization. Capone had agreements with Mayor Bill Thompson
of Chicago, that he would run and direct the politics, police, and federal enforcement
agencies of Chicago County. Throughout all of the liquor traffic, murder, and burglary,
the only charge the police ever caught him for was tax evasion. He served eleven years in
prison and died soon after his release of syphilis.

Yet another bootlegger profiting from Prohibition was a young German, George Remus. Remus
was a small convenience storeowner from Chicago when Prohibition started. He began by
illegally selling gallons of liquor to select customers. As word spread, and the demand
for alcohol grew, the number of "select" customers rapidly grew into a large clientele.
Remus soon earned enough profits to branch out and open a number of stores with an
unlimited supply of alcohol.

A revision was soon passed which permitted the sale of alcohol for medicinal purposes.
Remus soon acquired stores nationwide concentrating in Cincinnati, Ohio (Behr 176). Since
he was making such large sums of money, Remus took drastic measures. He began to hire all
law enforcement agents, such as local policemen and bureaucrats, and by 1921, almost the
entire Cincinnati police force was on his payroll, generating over a $25 million income
per year. Remus's reign of terror soon ended after he was convicted of murdering his wife,
and died in jail (Hintz 122).

The Prohibition became a primary source for corruption. Anyone from major politicians to
the cops on the streets were taking bribes from bootleggers and crime bosses. The Bureau
of Prohibition soon had to reorganize in order to reduce this corruption (Thorton 13). The
organized crime and bootleg "rings" started a movement that would not be relinquished.
Political leaders began to realize that the alcohol was no harder to come by than before
the Prohibition and that all this did was put money in the pockets of mobsters such as Al
Capone and ambitious businessmen like George Remus.

Prohibition had many economic repercussions on the United States. The closing of many
brewing factories increased the already growing unemployment pool. A contemporary humorist
Will Rogers stated, "We were so afraid the poor people might drink, but now we fixed it so
they can't eat." In this statement, Rogers is basically illustrating the tremendous
failure of the Prohibition (Behr 266).

The government had lost all of its taxes paid by companies involved with the sale of
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