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Essay on Prohibition in 20th Century America

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Prohibition in 20th Century America

In the early part of the 20th century some people had had enough of liquor and its deleterious effects on people and their behavior. Some believed that alcohol, and drunkenness were the most worrying afflictions that our nation faced. At least on the surface this was what prohibition was about. On the flip side, it seemed that prohibition was about "a still dominant, overwhelmingly rural, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant establishment, aware that its privileges and natural right to rule were being increasingly threatened by the massive arrival of largely despised (and feared) beer-swilling, wine-drinking new American immigrants" (Behr, 1996). Many of the "Americans" had descended from Protestant,
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Many of these believers were fanatical in their beliefs and in the delivery and spread of their message. Little by little the movements gained a stronger and stronger following of those who believed that alcohol and its consumption were rotting away the moral integrity, health, and overall foundation of American society. One of the largest constituents of this group was women. Women became so fixated on this cause that they made it into "the first women's mass movement in American history...[and] also the modern world's first large-scale, nonviolent protest movement" (Behr, 1996). These women used their determination and a strict sense of religious morality to spread their message and to gain a large audience as their efforts became increasingly covered in the increasingly important newspapers.

Prohibition was enacted as the 18th amendment to the Constitution. The bill, known as the Volstead Act, after Andrew J. Volstead, a Republican congressman from the state of Minnesota, was introduced on the 27th of May, 1919. After three months of debate the bill was passed by a vote of 255 to 166. On the 5th of September the Senate voted and passed the bill too. It was then made official after a final vote in the House of 321 to 70, and so was made law on October 10th (Behr, 1996).

The law made sure that alcohol was not easy to lay hands on. All advertising was banned along with the consumption and production of alcohol itself. Also any equipment
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