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Overview Of The Prohibition Essay

1486 words - 6 pages

The Prohibition

A Noble Experiment or a Disastrous Endeavor?

With the help of unions such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the idea of temperance being spread by these unions; the suggestion of a nationwide ban on alcoholic beverages spread like wildfire among Americans. With many politicians and civilians pushing for the prohibition, the 18th amendment was passed in 1919, quickly followed by the Volstead Act. However, with the rise in gang activity, bootlegging, crime, and murder; the 21st amendment was signed into play repealing the 18th amendment and Volstead Act. The prohibition and temperance eras created a newfound sense of ...view middle of the document...

The 18th amendment stated that the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol was hereby prohibited; and Congress and the States have concurrent power to enforce this article. This article was then aided by the Volstead Act, which defined the process and procedure for banning intoxicating beverages, and the production and distribution of such drinks.
With the new amendment out, alcohol was harder to get for those who believed they had to have it. People began bootlegging alcohol and selling it for outrageous prices. One of these bootleggers did not come from the typical background many would expect. Having to support the family at the age of 14, George Remus worked in a pharmacy which he later bought. At the age of 24, he became a significant lawyer in criminal defense. A few months into the prohibition, he saw that his clients were getting rich quickly and believed he could do better. By memorizing the Volstead Act and finding loopholes in it, he bought and used alcohol for medical purposes, in which most would disappear on the way to the pharmacy. In less than three years, he had made 40 million dollars, the equivalent of 760 million dollars today. The Prohibition Bureau quickly stepped in, and ended his bootlegging career. The Prohibition Bureau, or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, was the government’s futile attempt to enforce the prohibition. Many of its agents, however, were corrupt and under paid and trained. However, there were a few agents who took pride in their job and enforced the 18th amendment whenever they could. One of these agents was Eugene Jackson, an African American agent who was transferred to Chicago in March of 1932. As soon as he arrived in Chicago, he was greeted with the chance to arrest someone for bootlegging. He asked the man to meet him back with the liquor in half an hour. When the man arrived, Jackson tried to arrest him, but the man turned and shot him, taking off down the road. The shooter was later caught, and Eugene Jackson became the first known African-American prohibition agent to be killed in the line of duty.
While minor bootleggers were making a profit off of this brand new revenue, gangsters and mobsters also decided to make some money. One of the most famous gangsters and bootlegger was Al “Scarface” Capone. He joined the Colosimo Mob in 1920, where he worked his way up to become the boss. As boss, Capone’s reputation was fearsome as he tried to maintain his “racketeering rights” in several areas of Chicago. This reputation only grew as he eliminated and nullified rival gangs, creating a Capone fiefdom. One of the worst conflicts was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, on February 14, 1929; supposedly between adversaries of the Capone Mob and the “Bugs” Moran Mob. Here, 7 of the Moran Mob were machine-gunned against a wall by foes posing as police. This massacre was attributed to the Capone Mob, even though Capone was in Florida. It was later discovered...

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