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Roots of Prohibition

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JohnT

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Another reason was that the "Drys" used WWI as a spring board. They claimed that the US needed to conserve grain and copper. These are two requirements in the manufacture of most hard spirits.
 

JohnT

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Another reason is that many that voted in favor of the new amendment though that the law would never be enforced. Most towns and cities simply did not have the funds or man power to go after bootleggers.

With this in mind, for 10 months, there was never any provision on the books to enforce the new amendment. The shocker came on 10/28/1919 with the enacting of the Volstead act which allowed for enforcement.
 

JohnT

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I did a lot of research on this. It always seemed to me that a male-dominated government would never, ever ban the comsumption of alcohol.
 

BernardSmith

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I did a lot of research on this. It always seemed to me that a male-dominated government would never, ever ban the comsumption of alcohol.
That's why it does make some sense that xenophobia, racism and anti-immigration was perhaps more central than any effort to conserve resources for any war effort associated with WW1.
 

sour_grapes

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I did a lot of research on this. It always seemed to me that a male-dominated government would never, ever ban the comsumption of alcohol.
What did your research show? Were you able to figure out why your supposition was off-base?

That we could ever have outlawed booze is just stonkifying to my mind! Never would have believed it.
 

BernardSmith

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We have the same attitude today towards recreational drugs. Prohibition is a knee jerk reaction... Not arguing pro or con but simply observing that prohibition is not very alien to our society and culture.
 

JohnT

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What did your research show? Were you able to figure out why your supposition was off-base?

That we could ever have outlawed booze is just stonkifying to my mind! Never would have believed it.
I am not saying that WWI was the only factor at work here, but it certainly was a contributing factor. Here are a couple of posters that were published at the time.







The "wets" did control congress at the time that the amendment passed, but each seat was won based on bigotry, religious, and patriotic rhetoric.

Most in congress at the time truly believed that the amendment would never be ratified by the individual states. The important thing here is that the members of congress protected themselves politically, avoiding the fallout by voting against the amendment.

Still, I just find it amazing. Consider..

- in most states, at the time, women did not have the vote until 1920. This means that it was mostly men that voted for prohibition.

- Most believed that prohibition would only ban hard liquor. That beer and wine would still be allowed, especially beer which many considered as a non-intoxicating beverage. It was the Volstead act that categorized wine and beer with hard liquor.

- Wine was allowed for religious purposes. This was one of the very few compromises made by the wets. As a result, for example, the number Jewish rabbis exploded due to the fact that they could legally posses wine and it was difficult to legally discern a real rabbi from a fake one.

- It was still legal to make wine at home (200 gallons).
 
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sour_grapes

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Interesting. Thanks, that helps to somewhat explain the seemingly inexplicable.
 

Kraffty

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Well I've learned more about this here than I ever did in school, thanks for sharing. It made me look up the reasons for repealing prohibition and it seemed much less complicated, lost revenue to the government. Estimated at 10 billion dollars in the early 30's coupled with trying to recover from the depression made an amendment a pretty easy sell.
Mike
 

BernardSmith

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The "control" of drugs has created similar drug lords, cartels and serious crime while costing local, state and federal institutions a fortune as they engage in the so-called endless war on drugs...Elliot Ness redux?
 
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JohnT

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Between being home sick at the end of last week, and the office being closed on Monday, I had a lot of time on my hands.

So, I binge-watch the Ken Burns documentary .. Prohibition.

Very well done and also entertaining.

One point (on how/why the amendment could be enacted) that I did pick up on was this. The alcoholic beverage industry at the time was mostly composed of a large group of small distillers and several HUGE and POWERFUL beer brewers.

Now, you would think that the industry would lobby to kill the amendment. The problem was that the distillers were mostly small outfits that were never really organized or profitable enough to pose any type of opposition.

OK, so how about the Brewers?

Keep in mind that WWI was still going on. The big brewers (Like Frederick Pabst, Joseph Schlitz and Adolphus Busch) were all of German origin. At the time, the anti-German sentiment was so bad that men were being lynched just for speaking the language. The "Drys" used this hatred to keep the beer industry in check.

It was an amazing three part documentary. It was free on Amazon prime. If you have time to kill, I highly recommend it!
 

jswordy

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That's a great take on some of the sentiments behind Prohibition. It wasn't all about virtuous aims, for sure, though it was cloaked in them. Some of the biggest behind the scenes backers of Prohibition also were those who made the most money off the bootleg trade.

I think close study of Prohibition can enlighten discussion about the aims and motives of more modern efforts our country has undertaken and will undertake. There's always a virtuous pitch, yet we should also look deeply at what other motives are at hand.
 

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