Prohibition History Film Clips
Click here to read a 1943 article that looks back on the ten years since the repeal of Prohibition.
A reminiscence by screen writer, artist and all-around literary misfit Rob Wagner (1872 - 1942) as he recalled the bad old days of 1918, when he was hoodwinked into believing that the widespread prohibition of alcohol would help achieve an Allied victory in World War I. When the war ended and time passed, he noticed how the Noble Experiment was evolving into something quite different, and how it was altering not only his friends and neighbors, but American culture as a whole.
"Before Prohibition, the average business or professional man, never dreamed of drinking spirits during the working day...Now, however, a full grown man with the sparkle in his eye of a naughty sophomore, will meet you on Spring Street at eleven in the morning, slap you on the back, and ask you to duck up to his office where he will uncork his forbidden treasure..."
Four and a half years into Prohibition, journalist Jack O'Donnell reported that there were as many as 25,000 women who had run-afoul of the law in an effort to earn a quick buck working for bootleggers:
"They range in age from six to sixty. They are recruited from all ranks and stations of life - from the slums of New York's lower East Side, exclusive homes of California, the pine clad hills of Tennessee, the wind-swept plains of Texas, the sacred precincts of exclusive Washington... Women in the bootleg game are becoming a great problem to law enforcement officials. Prohibition agents, state troopers and city police - gallant gentlemen all - hesitate to embarrass women by stopping their cars to inquire if they are carrying hooch. The bootleggers and smugglers are aware of this fact and take advantage of it."
Verily, so numerous were these lush lassies - the Federal Government saw fit to construct a prison compound in which to incarcerate them; you can read about that here...
It stands to reason that when one addictive drug disappears, the users will seek another drug to serve as a substitute - and although Wikipedia stated that drug addiction rose 44.6% throughout the course of Prohibition, this 1922 article reported that (at least for the first three years of the law) narcotics use remained at it's pre-1919 levels.
Attached is an editorial that was co-authored by George Jean Nathan and H.L. Mencken from their reoccurring column in THE SMART SET: "Répétition Générale". This short columnists sought to expose the damages inflicted upon the country by the "guardians of the national virtue" and their bastard children, Prohibition and the Volstead Act, which will primarily serve to promote the wide (though illegal) distribution of all the poorest distilled spirits concocted in the most "remote frontiers of civilization".
When the four brothers La Montagne were arrested for violating the Volstead Act in 1922, the social butterflies of New York society were shocked; not simply because some of their own had been roughed-up by the police, but shocked because they had no idea as to where they were to acquire their illegal hooch in the future.
"The plea for leniency made by several well-known lawyers, on the grounds of social prominence of the accused, was 'pitiable and foolish', in the opinion of the New York 'Globe'.
"In summing up his case...the United States District Attorney said":
"'To allow these defendants to escape with a fine, it seems to me, would...justify the belief that men of great wealth or influence or power are above the law.'"
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