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Roots Of Prohibition

Powerful Essays
By 1820, the average American, over 15 years old, consumed about seven gallons of pure alcohol per year (“Roots of Prohibition”). Not only has the drinking age changed since then but this is nearly three times the amount of alcohol that is drank today. Alcohol abuse was causing chaos on many lives, especially during a time when women had few legal rights and depended on their husbands for support (“Roots of Prohibition”). From 1920 to 1933, the transportation, sale, and manufacture of alcohol were illegal in the United States under Prohibition. The 18th amendment, along with other groups and movements, enforced the Prohibition of alcohol; however, it was later repealed by the 21st amendment due to increased illegal alcohol sales, disrespect…show more content…
While Prohibition was in effect, “alcohol consumption increased sharply, to about 60-70 percent of its pre-Prohibition level” (Miron and Zwiebel 1). Because the trade of illegal alcohol became more profitable, the quality of alcohol on the black market declined, “on average, 1,000 Americans died every year during the Prohibition from the effects of drinking tainted liquor” (Lerner). Also, it was estimated that 40% of homicides during Prohibition were cause by drug related crimes (“Women the Driving Factor…). The Great Gatsby, published in 1925, takes place during the summer of 1922, during Prohibition. Fitzgerald analyzes the negative effects of Prohibition on the economy, the different social classes of the 1920’s, the characters, and the plot. For example, Gatsby was considered high in social class due to his outrageous parties and large amounts of alcohol provided by his “under the table” business. The Great Gatsby features parties with large amounts of alcohol, provided by bootlegging. Bootlegging is “to produce, reproduce, or distribute alcohol illicitly” (“Bootleg”). Prohibition was effective in rural areas and small towns but was less effective in urban areas, due to these illegal suppliers. Another downfall to Prohibition was speakeasies. Speakeasies were clubs or liquor stores that sold alcohol illegally (“Speakeasy”). The high price of bootleg liquor meant “the nation’s working class and poor were far more restricted during Prohibition than middle or upper class Americans” (“Origins of Prohibition”). Speakeasies and bootleggers increased the illegal production of alcohol, sale of alcohol, gang violence, and crimes. The most notorious example is Al Capone, the “Chicago gangster” who earned $60 million annually from bootleg operations and speakeasies
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