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American Prohibition Assignment

1.) Sources A and B are both sources from American history books published in the 70’s. Both start with reasons as to why prohibition was established but both suggest preservation of grain for the war to be a main factor and the action of two groups the anti saloon league and the women’s Christian temperance union. In my own opinion I think the sources both agree with each other quite well both stating similar and identical answers to why prohibition was enforced.

2.) I believe both artists were for prohibition the first poster shows a stick thin little girl and her little brother stood outside of a speak easy or a saloon the text reads “daddy’s in there– and our shoes and stockings and food are in there too and they’ll never come out” this obviously states that the father is spending his hard earned money not on the children and their well-being but on the drink inside of the saloon this scene is meant to show the fathers who spend their money on the drink to be bad parents.

The second poster shows a man handing over a bag labelled “weekly wages” the title at the top reads “the poor man’s club” the poster is branding the saloon the poor man’s club showing how the high payments for beer and alcohol keeps its “members” or customers always poor, the pop out circle at the bottom of the poster shows the his family sat at home, the mother weeping at the table, and the small child looking into an empty bowl. on the floor lies an eviction notice, again this poster shows how the drinkers who spent all their money on the alcohol they were addicted to were ruining their families, and stating that drinking men were again bad parents. I believe both posters are against drinking and in favour of prohibition by showing the poor conditions of the family’s while drinking was legal.

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3.) Sources E and F are a letter and a speech from different periods in time. Source E is a letter written in 1932 by John d. Rockefeller the time when prohibition has dramatically failing in America. Source F is a speech by John Kramer the first prohibition commissioner speaking in 1920. As evidence of prohibition source F is not very good. It was said at the beginning of the dry era and was spoken by a man who was highly optimistic about prohibition and the ease that America would bow down to its rule.

Source E however was written in the dying days of prohibition and was written in hindsight by a wealthy industrialist. Whereas source E highlighted the prospects and exasperations of prohibition and what they hoped they could achieve, source F states what actually happened and as evidence you don’t want to know what they thought was going to happen but what actually did happen. So in my opinion I believe that source F is better in relation to evidence of prohibition as it is an account of its events not the enforcer’s aims.

4.) Sources g and h are both statistics published by the city of Philadelphia police department, showing the number of offences linked to drinking. Source g shows the numbers of liqueur, spirits, alcohol and beer being seized each year by police forces as well as illegal stills. In the first section it shows the numbers in 1921 “414,000” gallons of alcohol seized however in the following years 1925 and 29 the amount seized by police forces rises dramatically twenty times more within four years.

Source H however shows the number of arrests in the prohibition years. In the early years arrest rates are low and drunk drivers are at 0, however as the years go on the arrest rate again dramatically rises and doubles after the first 5 years. In my own opinion I believe that neither of the statistics show any success for prohibition and that rather than helping with the problem of drinking, prohibition actually made it worse, with that being proven with the high rise in crime and the infamy of crime lords of the time such as Al Capone.

5.) Source I is a carton from the years of prohibition, the cartoon shows several police and high class figures all stood with their hands out behind their backs ready to accept a ‘back hander’ or bribe. The title of the cartoon is ‘the national gesture’ saying that the nation is now taking bribes more than shaking people’s hands and replacing that as the national gesture.

The other source is a report from a policeman talking about prohibition in Chicago and receiving a bribe from a man in the street ‘he handed me an envelope… inside was $75’. Both sources speak about brides and both support the evidence that bribery was present in the prohibition era so I believe that both sources provide good reason to say that the officer in source J is speaking the truth as with the rule of Al Capone in that era crime was extremely high and corruption with the policing system was not uncommon so bribery would have been an everyday thing for those people.

6.) In many ways you could argue for both sides. Some of the sources support the notion that prohibition was destined to succeed however some then show how poorly prohibition works and how it was failing as a system. For one example the cartoon of the children in poverty and the ‘poor man’s club’ made it to the public like the booze and the way without prohibition was the side of evil and that hope fully all of America would join in and they would be ‘Ay OK’, but no. most of the sources point in the opposite direction and show that the whole thing was dead from the start.

As Al Capone said ‘all I do is supply a public demand’ and its true all America wanted to do was drink alcohol and in fact drinking of alcohol increased during those years and created more problems than it solved. The crime and profit created fuelled gang activity for decades and scarred America forever. In all I believe that prohibition was destined to fail from the beginning. However much a good idea it may have been, drink was far too much of an inbuilt part of life for those people and was engraved into their culture. So to take it away from those alcoholics who depended upon it as their drug and fix would have searched out any means possible to get back their precious booze. Even if it meant turning to crime such were the ways of the prohibition era.

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