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The Prohibition Era, 1919-1933

(1917—1933)

Prohibition began with temperance movements throughout the United States before the Civil War. Alcohol consumption had become closely related with poverty and crime by the early 20th century, causing states to pass local prohibition laws. National prohibition did not become a foreseeable goal until World War I, when food shortages caused the government to restrict alcohol production so grain could be used for food. The 18th Amendment created national prohibition and began an era of bootlegging, speakeasies, and organized crime. The 1920s, while a prosperous time for the United States, saw a rise in crime and moral vice—the very problems prohibition was suppose to solve. Once the nation fell into depression, FDR saw the liquor industry as a valuable source of revenue and stopped what Herbert Hoover called, “a noble experiment.” On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified and went into effect, permanently ending this period of prohibition in the United States.

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The Legendary Al Capone

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Al Capone’s father, Gabriele Capone, immigrated to the United States from Italy and became a citizen on May 25, 1906. Alphonse Gabriele “Al” Capone, born in Brooklyn, New York, on January 17, 1899, was the most notorious gangster of the 1920s. Al Capone, also know as “Scarface,” began his life of crime at an early age, dropping out of school in the sixth grade and joining the Five Points gang in Manhattan. Capone earned a living in Chicago during the Prohibition Age through bootlegging and running saloons, gambling houses, speakeasies, bookie joints, horse and race tracks, nightclubs, distilleries, breweries and brothels. Although he was arrested several times, Al Capone did not spend much time in jail until 1931, when he was convicted for income tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison. After being incarcerated in Atlanta and Alcatraz, he was released on November 16, 1939, for good behavior. He died on January 25, 1947.    

 

Source: http://www.chicago.org/history/capone/cpn4.html

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The Repeal of Prohibition

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During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt and the American people decided to put an end to the "noble experiment" of prohibition. In 1919, those you fought for prohibition really believed it would help with the problems of poverty, crime, and other moral vices. However, crime only increased during the 1920s, and by 1930 many organizations sprung up to campaign for the repeal of prohibition. During Franklin D. Roosevelt’s campaign of 1932, he ran on a platform that included repealing prohibition. The American people, especially women who had once as a group advocated prohibition, now saw its repeal as a chance to lower crime and even help the struggling economy. The 21st Amendment was fully ratified on December 5, 1933 and prohibition ended. This “noble experiment” gave the United States one of the most colorful periods of history, where bootleggers like Al Capone ran their speakeasies, drank their bath-tub rum, and gained legendary status during this “dry” time in America.

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Event Details

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18th Amendment goes into effect on federal level:
29 Jan 1919 1
Elliot Ness begins to tackle prohibition violators:
1929 1
FDR signs Cullen-Harrison Act:
23 Mar 1933 1
Herbert Hoover speaks on need to end prohibition:
11 Aug 1932 1
Prohibition is repealed with the 21st amendment:
05 Dec 1933 1
Rise of bootleggers highlights prohibition problem:
1920s 1
US Senate passes the Volstead Act:
18 Dec 1917 1
War Time Prohibition Act passed, saves grain:
1918 1

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