Although sharing similar goals, the two accounts present opposing viewpoints regarding Prohibition and offer different reasons for its implementation.
Both Source A and Source B agree on the implementation and outcome of Prohibition, as well as the conservation of grain. Source A, from a 1973 American History book, examines the various justifications for Prohibition, citing "the bad influence of saloons." Similarly, Source B, from a 1979 American History book, affirms this sentiment and elaborates on the efforts of the "Women's Christian Temperance Union" in their crusade against "alcoholism," which they viewed as one of the "great evils" of their time.
During the First World War, there was a focus on prioritizing food over alcohol. Source A highlights "the wartime concern for preserving grain for food," while Source B mentions a 1917 nationwide campaign led by the Anti-Saloon League to ban the us...
e of grain for distilling or brewing. Both sources suggest that the Anti-Saloon League played a role in this decision, though they do not directly agree on the outcome of Prohibition's introduction. However, they both imply that the result was ultimately the same.
Both Source A and Source B concur that Prohibition caused a significant escalation in criminal activity throughout American history. Source A directly states that Prohibition initiated "the greatest criminal boom in American History," whereas Source B elucidates the emergence of gangsters like Dutch Schulz and Al Capone, who transformed evading Prohibition into a violent and profitable enterprise. Although they express it differently, both sources mention the reason behind the surge in crime resulting from Prohibition. According to Source A, Prohibition generated widespread crime and disrupted the customs, habits, and desires of many Americans; o
the other hand, according to Source B, gangsters who exploited the new law for their benefit were responsible for this problem.
Although it may seem that Source B and the posters displayed in Sources C and D have conflicting viewpoints, a closer examination reveals a common theme. Source B quotes Al Capone, who supported the American public's demand for alcohol during Prohibition. Capone also viewed Prohibition as an opportunity for entrepreneurship, stating "Prohibition is a business" and "all I do is supply a public demand." Similarly, the creators of both posters in Sources C and D share this perspective.
Depicted in Source C is a man who is drinking at what is labeled as "The Poor Mans Club," with a title of "Slaves of the saloon". This suggests that individuals were controlled by Public Houses due to their inability or unwillingness to free themselves from alcohol. The image showcases how men would enter a saloon after receiving their pay and spend their entire week's earnings on drinks. There is also a smaller image where a woman is seen slumped over a table, visibly dejected, with her child looking at an empty bowl of food. The quote associated with this picture indicates that "it keeps its members and their families always poor."
Two children are depicted observing a saloon in Source D named "Daddy's in there". The children express that their possessions such as shoes, stockings, and food are also within the saloon and cannot be retrieved. This suggests that men are spending their earnings, originally used for household necessities, on alcohol. The consequence of this action is seen through the suffering of innocent children who lack basic needs.
Despite using different emotional tones, both sources convey the same message.
While Source A may come across as sarcastic and demeaning towards men who frequent saloons, its smaller scene evokes a sense of compassion towards the families of these men who suffer from their actions. Similarly, Source D expresses the same sentiment using a more emotional approach by highlighting how men's spending habits in saloons affect their families.
When determining the most trustworthy source between a 1932 letter written by John D. Rockerfeller Jr. and a quote from a speech by John F. Kramer, the first Prohibition Commissioner, it is crucial to consider the roles played by these individuals. John D. Rockefeller was a prosperous industrialist.
As a businessman, John F. Kramer understood the importance of supplying what the public demanded in order to make money. He recognized that it was impractical to stop producing something that people wanted to buy. Although this realization may not have aligned with his personal beliefs, he was able to see both perspectives. As the inaugural Prohibition Commissioner, Kramer was responsible for enforcing Prohibition.
To cement his position, the requirement was that he was a strong advocate of Prohibition. His speech quote indicates his unwavering stance towards the law, stating that "the law will be obeyed in cities, large or small, and in villages." This illustrates his narrow-minded perspective on Prohibition, with no indication of any potential flexibility in his professional or personal beliefs. He declares that "the law says that liquor must not be manufactured," unable to perceive any impracticalities or impossibilities in enforcing it.
According to Source E, John F. Kramer firmly believed that he and his
1500 Prohibition Agents were capable of enforcing the law prohibiting the production, sale, and distribution of alcohol. He expressed his determination to ensure that the law was upheld and stated that alcohol would not be produced, sold, or given away if it was against the law to do so. Therefore, Source E is considered the more trustworthy evidence regarding Prohibition.
John D. Rockerfeller expressed his hope for wide public support upon introducing a law aimed at recognizing the negative effects of alcohol. However, despite his aim, it was recognized by politicians and others that this hope was not fulfilled.
Source E presents an insightful view into human nature, acknowledging that individuals often desire what is unattainable, as demonstrated by Rockerfeller's observation that "drinking has generally increased." The speaker also recognizes the impact of supply and demand when it comes to illegal substances, noting the emergence of a large group of lawbreakers. This need knows no boundaries in terms of class, as even "many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition." The widespread unpopularity of this law is evident in Rockerfeller's acknowledgement that "respect for the law has been greatly lessened." Furthermore, the consequences of Prohibition are starkly revealed in the unprecedented increase in crime. In light of these points, Source E provides a balanced and informative piece of evidence.
Although their opinions may have been similar, Rockerfeller was able to objectively analyze Prohibition and its consequences to a greater extent than Kramer. Sources G and H demonstrate that Prohibition was not effective, despite potential factors beyond alcohol affecting the numbers. While there are criticisms of these sources being an accurate measure of Prohibition's success, as the years
represented in both charts differ, it is evident that overall, the discussed offenses increased.
Statistics for the years in between are unavailable. Source H, which reports on "arrests for drinking-related offenses," only uses data from the 'City of Philadelphia Police Department.' This source cannot be considered a comprehensive reflection of events across America during that time frame. Additionally, Source H includes offenses related to drunk driving. It is important to note that the number of vehicles on the road increased dramatically between 1920 and 1925.
Despite the fact that a significant number of crimes remain unreported or undiscovered, cars have become more affordable and accessible to working-class people, making them easier to obtain. However, the reliability of Source G is questionable because it does not provide a breakdown of where seizures occurred. It is unclear if they were distributed evenly throughout the United States or if some regions had more successful enforcement than others. Considering all these factors, Prohibition was largely ineffective when comparing the efforts of Federal government agents enforcing it from 1921-9 in Source H and Source G. Assuming that Philadelphia's statistics accurately reflect those of the entire country and that the figures in Source G are proportional to each state, Prohibition failed as a whole.
The data reveals that in 1920, there were 20,410 crimes connected to drinks. In the following year, in 1921, 9,746 stills were confiscated and 414,000 gallons of spirits were seized. However, by 1923, despite the production, purchase or sale of alcohol being illegal, the number of drink-related crimes escalated to 53,947. The information for 1925 is presented in both sources.
The seizure of 12,023 stills and 11,030,000 gallons of
spirits highlights the law's ineffectiveness as a significantly greater amount of alcohol was being illegally produced. The number of drink-related crimes only rose to 57,703 in 1925 despite an increase in the gallons of spirit seized. However, the enforcement of the law seemed more successful as 15,794 illegal stills and 11,860,000 gallons of spirit were confiscated.
It can be inferred from the increase in law violations that Prohibition was not successful. This is illustrated in Source I, a cartoon called "The National Gesture" from the Prohibition era. The cartoon depicts prominent individuals seeking bribes, including a Prohibition Agent, Police Officer, Politician, Magistrate, Party Official, and Clerk holding out their hands behind their backs. While it is a representation of someone's opinion and not necessarily based on personal experience, cartoons like this were effective forms of propaganda that could be understood even by those who were illiterate.
Depicted in a caricature or exaggerated form, the above officials throughout America were not necessarily all accepting bribes to break the law. However, as Source J suggests, it must have been a common occurrence with some element of truth. The quote from a policeman specifically speaks about Chicago during the 1920s, a time where Chicago and New York were known as the homes of speakeasies and had a higher concentration of gangsters. In fact, the policeman admits to being welcomed by saloon keepers rather than feared in Chicago.
According to Source J, the way the Policeman spoke made him feel like he had no choice but to drink, saying "The bottle was there and you were supposed to drink." He also discusses the difficulty for average Policemen enforcing Prohibition, as
they were allegedly involved in a conspiracy. Furthermore, Source J recounts a personal experience where he was offered a bribe of $75 by a man who quickly disappeared after handing him an envelope on 12th street.
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