Dry Decade

Published: 2021-09-12 13:55:10
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The 1920s contained many names such as, "Jazz Age," "Roaring Twenties," "Prosperity Decade," "Age of Normalcy," or "New Era," non of them referring back to the event of prohibition. Instead, these names were meant to capture the image of the nation's public back then. The name that most historians prefer to use when talking about the 1920s and prohibition was "Dry Decade." The name was giving because of the ratification of the 18th amendment and passage of laws by Congress. The main topics of those laws were the consumption, buying, selling, trading, shipping, brewing and owning of alcohol. This is also the era where women just receive their suffrage rights and exercised it to the prohibition of alcohol. William Harding won the presidential election because he promised the women's suffrage group an end of alcohol consumption. The women believed it was a wrong doing and must be stopped. David E. Kyvig believed that the prohibition act was a failure. He said that it slowed down the consumption but didn't stop it completely. The government failed to put forth action on the laws, to enforce them on the people. So many people were bootlegging and selling it secretly causing more problems. On the other hand, J. C. Burnham said that prohibition was more good than bad. He says that less people of the communities were hospitalized or infected with diseases because of alcohol. Also it decreased saloons which contained many criminals.
Both men put off great arguments on this topic of prohibition, a failure or not. I happen to take the side of David Kyvig and agree with the fact that prohibition was not successful. Yes, the prohibition did do some good to the community, but mainly it created bad habits for the community members; it showed how horrible the government was at enforcing certain laws, and how the alcohol consumed wasn't always the best.
The enforcement of Prohibition was much of a struggle for the government. President Harding put little in Prohibition except give control of the matter to anti-Saloon member Roy A. Haynes. From there the president stood back and let Haynes control the whole situation on his own. Harding received hate mail on his handling of this situation. They expected more out of him since he made his whole campaign about the stoppage of alcohol consumption, which helped him win the election. He was suppose to, the president that made change for the pro-prohibitionist. It wasn't just the federal government who struggled to enforce the18th amendment; the local governments couldn't do any better. The enforcement was first assigned to the IRS then to the Justice Department next to the local police. Not one group could enforce Prohibition. Police found some result in small towns and rural areas. In big cities and towns there were to many loop holes that citizens could find for the police to be affective. Even when they locked away people, the jails weren't big enough to fit everyone who broke the law, which was most of the population of the town. Also the courts didn't have time to trial every person who was arrested; it was just a waste of time. A problem that happened in big towns was the fact that police and law enforcements were given bribes to turn a cheek to what was happening. How can Prohibition are enforced with bribed law enforcement and little to no help from the government. Kyvig talked about how law enforcer's don't have the space in the jails if they were to arrest all law breakers and that most courts didn't want to waste their time with all these prohibition cases. Burnham, on the other hand, gave praise to the police for cleaning up all the criminals and putting them away in jail. He failed to explain that once they are in jail they claimed to be guilty and pay a fine or go to jail for a tad bit; in the end, they were back on the streets in a short time doing what they were doing earlier.
Burnham did point out that the streets did clean up a bit with the enforcements they had at the time. There were less drunk people wandering the streets and causing trouble. What he neglected to look at is what happens to the people once they are put away. The so called criminal don't care about if they were arrested, they just do what they got to do so they can get out on the streets again. What bugged the most was that the president promised to do something about it and just passed the prohibition onto someone else. When upon reading that piece of information, it showed that Prohibition was going to fail because it lacked the enforcement of the government.
Since alcohol was against the law, it made becoming a criminal a popular thing. Many illegal sales and made of alcohol went on still during Prohibition. Much of the alcohol was smuggled from Canada and other nations close by. Bootlegging became a thing to do during this time; there were even gangs of bootleggers in certain cities. This caused some violence between the different gangs on territory and distribution.

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