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.'"
In 1959 an eyewitness to American Prohibition recalls what life was like and what a mistake it was.
Two sources have been combined on one printable page in order to assess the body count that was created as a result of the murders that the prohibition laws had wrought. The complete number is not here - just the last four years:
1933, the year Prohibition was rescinded, seemed to have been the bloodiest year in this study - with 12,123 people murdered (being 9.6 per 1000,000 souls). The numbers began to drop from there: 1934 through 1936 saw a steady decline in urban homicide.
Published at a time when America stood so reluctantly on the doorstep of the Prohibition era, an unnamed editor at THE LITERARY DIGEST compiled a number of quotes from numerous literary sources as if to illustrate the deep roots the Western world of belles-lettres has invested in the culture of alcohol.
The attached article is composed of numerous newspaper observations that appeared in print throughout April of 1933; these perceptions all pertain to the goings on that followed in the joyous wake of Prohibition's demise:
"'The return of beer has really been a remarkable phenomenon,' says THE NEW YORK EVENING POST.
'Not one of the bad effects predicted for it actually took place'."
An article about Mabel Willebrandt (1889 - 1963), the Assistant Attorney General of the United States between the years 1921 through 1929, her tremendous successes in the past and her ambitions to hold fast in the enforcement of the Volstead Act:
"'Give me the authority and let me have my pick of 300 men and I'll make this country as dry as it is humanly possible to get it,' she said without the slightest trace of braggadocio. 'There's one way it can be done: get at the source of supply. I know them, I have no patience with this policy of going after the hip-pocket and speakeasy cases. That's like trying to dry up the Atlantic ocean with a blotter.'"
When Mrs. Willebrandt stepped down some seven years after this article went to press, she questioned the willingness of the nation's law enforcement agencies to see the job through.