Written some eighteen years after the event, here is a reminiscence of the worst day in Prohibition history: the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
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1933, the year Prohibition was rescinded, seemed to have been the bloodiest year in this study - with 12,123 people murdered (being 9.6 per 1000,000 souls).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.
During the Jazz Age, there were a number of opinion pieces published concerning the general feeling of malaise and disillusionment that was experienced throughout most of the Western nations. In this article, written by a well known Protestant theologian of the time, it is stated that a new day has come to America - one that shows itself with a blatant disrespect for law and order.
"Our most obvious lawlessness is the breaking of the prohibition laws... The shame of the present situation is that the law is not being chiefly outraged by poor people; it is mainly the men of means, prestige and influence, who ought to know better. Obviously there has been a breakdown of authority in the state and the rise of a rampant and selfish individualism."
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.
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.