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Prohibition History

               Prohibition History Film Clips

Click here to read a 1943 article that looks back on the ten years since the repeal of Prohibition.

The Damage of Prohibition (The Smart Set, 1921)

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 brief column 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".


The Political Landscape (Pathfinder Magazine, 1920)

Weeks after the Prohibition Amendment came into effect, there was much scurrying about by all politicians on both the state and Federal levels - all looking for allies they could rely upon to either defend or overturn the legislation, depending upon their respective constituencies. The first question put to each representative was, "Are you wet or dry?" Shortly before this article went to press, Congress held a vote to repeal the Volstead Act: the repeal was rejected by a vote of 254 to 85.


Prohibition Era Prisons Filled with Women (American Legion Weekly, 1924)

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...


Upper-Class Bootleggers Arrested (Literary Digest, 1923)

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.

- from Amazon:

"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.'"


Will Prohibition Create More Drug Users? (The Literary Digest, 1922)

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.

Click here to read about the problems of American drug addicts in the Forties...


The Non-Success of Prohibition (Pathfinder Magazine, 1932)

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.


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