Prohibition History Film Clips
If you are looking for a serious report concerning the political battles fought in Congress regarding Prohibition (1919 - 1933), you can keep looking. The attached essay is a humorous parody of that dispute between the Drys and Wets as it existed just months before the 'Noble Experiment' began in earnest. By November of 1918, the American newspaper readers had simply overdosed on the redundant writings of assorted war correspondents - and so, with a bit of whimsy, the VANITY FAIR writer George S. Chappell sat down to write about the political war between these two groups using the same journalistic affectations everyone was so heartily sick of. You will also find a mock military map depicting the faux topography in dispute.
"Prohibition has been pretty rough on everybody, but there is no class of people which it has hit so hard as the theater-goers. The Federal Amendment has completely wrecked their evenings. It isn't so bad while the show is going on; the blow falls between the acts. In happier times the intermissions were the high spots of the evening..."
With pin-point accuracy, Vanity Fair was able to identify the new minority-victim class that emerged from America's unfortunate experiment with Prohibition: Broadway theater enthusiasts (It might be argued that the real victims were American bar tenders, many of whom high-tailed it over to Europe where they established a number of American-style bars).
The attached page from the magazine can be classified as humor and is illustrated with six great sketches by Edith Plummer.
Read other articles from 1919.
For some unexplained reason, H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) wrote this essay under the pseudonym "Major Owen Hatteras". The one page article is written in typical Menkenese and catalogs example after example of how prohibition is creating a worse society, not a better one; citizens of all stripes who would otherwise be judged as honest souls, are instead committing illegal acts and there seemed to be no end in sight to such behavior.
"Tobacco is not food. It is a drug. A healthy human being can get along without it. One who has never used it is better off, his health has a surer foundation and his life expectancy is greater than in the case of one who is a habitual user."
The cautionary paragraph posted above was written in the early Twenties, and this article points out that the health advocates of the that era were not delusional or ill-informed in matters involving tobacco and health care. Tobacco's ability to harm was understood so well that an effort was afoot in the U.S. Congress to make the weed illegal. Needless to say, that effort did not get very far.
Some eighty-four years ago, as it is also true this day, many people living outside the borders of the United States had a laugh, from time-to-time, concerning America's commonly held belief that they are an idealistic people whose motives are not always driven by self-interest; this is a broad topic and sound arguments can be made on both sides as to whether it is true or not. The British thinker Bertrand Russel (1872 - 1970; Nobel Prize for Literature, 1950) had some thoughts on the matter and in an address made to a number of assembled Americans he submitted that, in his view, Prohibition was not a 'noble experiment' which sought to inspire all Americans to lead a righteous life, but rather a gross perversion of Christian doctrine.
Two years before the Prohibition Amendment would be passed, the New York State Superintendent of the Anti-Saloon League, William H. Anderson (1874 - 1959), wrote this piece defending a draft of the amendment that was, at that time, sitting before Congress.
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