On January 16, 1920, the 18th amendment was passed stating alcohol was illegal creating multiple problems in the United States. Although Prohibition seemed like a good idea at first, representing good health and morality, prohibition soon led to organized crime and gangs. Speakeasies, run by gangs and bootleggers, sold illegal and home-made alcohol. Bootleggers, getting their names from people soring alcohol in false legs, would run bars or taverns hidden from police. Organized crime grew and the gangs fought for control and kept their secrets by conquering any threats.
Before law enforcement became a big part of larger cities in the United states back in 1685 they only had small organized law enforcement in the larger cities, but as time changes law enforcement modifies. One of the most famous times is the prohibition era in the 1920s when alcohol became band in the United States to help reduce crime rates until in 1933 when prohibition was repealed. During prohibition mafias and gangs would sneak in alcohol illegally and try to sell to people breaking the prohibition. One of the most famous people from this time was Al Capone was a famous gangster from the 1920s who would supply alcohol during prohibition. These were all factors in the American experience from the days of the frontier to the famous prohibition
A lot of people did not agree with prohibition and still wanted a way to get alcohol. Prohibition started because alcoholism and domestic violence was at a high and by getting rid of alcohol Congress thought domestic violence, bar fights and things of that nature would go away. Gangsters came to power because people needed a way to get alcohol and gangsters had it. But with the rise of gangsters came the rise of organized crime, which was just as bad if not worse than when people could freely get alcohol. One quote that explains how organized crime became more and more in power, “In Chicago a bare six months of prohibition has raised the total of crime, figured for the entire year, more than 25 per cent.
Moonshiners were in a profitable but sometimes tough business during the Prohibition. “In 1923, explaining how growing quantities of liquor were being smuggled into the United States from Canada, Roy Hanes said, “ You cannot keep liquor from dripping though a dotted line”” (Okrent, 153). The government had poisoned the alcohol that was still in rotation for non-recreation purposes, so no one could drink illegally. This caused the ‘wets’ to find a way to remove the poison from the alcohol so they could still obtain a profit. “Denver drinkers could look to cunning moonshiners who placed animal carcasses near their distilleries, thus disguising the telltale scent of sour mash with the more potent aroma of rotting flesh” (Okrent, 128).
Laws on underage drinking have been useful in preventing underage drinking. In a good number states, the lawful drinking age is 21 years. Bars and clubs are therefore forbidden from selling alcohol to people under the lawful age. Elusive youths however continue to drink illegally, mostly in houses where chances of arrest are almost impossible. Also notable is the involvement of organizations which have embarked on campaigns to reduce drunk driving.
Although drinking was generally thought to have declined during Prohibition, it had instead, continued uninterrupted in many parts of the country, particularly in large cities and areas with large foreign-born populations. Smuggling on such a large scale could not be prevented, and the illegal manufacture of liquor sprang up with such speed that authorities were hard pressed to contain it. Thus began a period of illegal drinking, lawbreaking, organized crime, and the corruption of public officials. During Prohibition there was a 24 percent increase in crime rate between 1920 and 1921. The rate of arrests on account of drunkenness rose 41 percent, and arrests for drunken driving increased 81 percent.
The successful bootleggers at the time were able to capitalize on the high demand for alcohol. “Through the criminal experience gained and the political connections established in gambling and prostitution rackets in the early 1900s, gangsters had become well prepared for the exploitation of Prohibition.” One could argue that these gangsters may have only been successful from an economic standpoint and that their lives seemed more glamorous then they truly were. Many of them died terrible deaths but the fact is historians and society will forever be fascinated with these figures and their lifestyles. Through my research, I have determined that it was more than this; these successful gangsters had very similar character traits and childhood
One way in which the book and film capture the times, is in the handling of, sales of, and consumption of alcohol. We see in both sources that Gatsby’s fortune is largely made from bootlegging illegal liquor and that despite alcohol being prohibited, people of wealth still regularly indulged in this luxury. This reminds readers and viewers that the twenties were a time of prohibition, but also a time when people drank heavily to show off their means. Another way in which the 1920s are portrayed is through the description of and use of clothing in the book and film; respectively. In the film, one sees Gatsby dressed in flamboyant suits made of expensive fabrics.
“Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same.” This was said by Charles Bukowski, who was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer. Drinking is known for being a pleasure for most people, but in America there is an age restriction for that pleasure. On July 17, 1984, The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was passed and it was controversial because it punished every state that allowed persons below 21 years old to purchase and publicly possess alcoholic beverages. One of the primary reasons why this bill was passed was to prevent traffic deaths caused by young drunk drivers.
It was made illegal in the 1930’s for the same reasons as alcohol, because it was believed that it was going to do harm to society. As years have gone by, it is obvious that a mistake was made. The fact that marijuana was made illegal has created numerous problems for the United States that on the long run could have been easily avoided. Countries in different parts of the world and some states within the United States have already legalized marijuana and they have all shown positive outcomes out of their decisions. Although marijuana is illegal in majority of the states, legalizing marijuana for recreational use would bring about social and economical reforms that would help deter crime in the country, increase the amount of money the government makes, and also help people that are medically in need of the drug.