Prohibition History Film Clips
Click here to read a 1943 article that looks back on the ten years since the repeal of Prohibition.
One decade into Prohibition, the editors of THE LITERARY DIGEST polled numerous states in an effort to understand the law's standing within the nation.
Prohibition had been in place for a little over eleven and a half years by the time this uncredited editorial was published. The column is informative for all the trivial events that Prohibition had set in motion and are seldom remembered in our own time - such as the proliferation of private golfing institutions; clubs that intended to appear innocent enough, but were actually created for "Wet" dues-paying golfers. A recently posted article (1917) that appeared in THE LITERARY DIGEST near the end of 1929 examined the astronomical wealth that had been earned by the gangsters in America's biggest cities.
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..."
By 1927 it was common knowledge to every Chicago-based journalist that any reporter who wrote truthfully or seemed in any outraged by the business practices of Al Capone - and others of his ilk, was likely to be found face down in Lake Michigan. The writer who penned this piece probably had that fact in mind while sitting at the typewriter; it is not an apology for the Chicago gangsters, it simply implies that they are established, the police are complicit - so get used to it. The writer then begins to explain how the bootlegging and distribution business operated - some of the up-and-coming hoods of the day must have been gratified to read that there was plenty of room for advancement within each organization.
A history of Chicago vaudeville can be read here...
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...
Attached is an editorial that was co-authored by George Jean Nathan and H.L. Mencken from their reoccurring column in THE SMART SET: "Rιpιtition Gιnιrale". 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".
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