The Prohibition Era, 1919-1933

The Prohibition Era, 1919-1933


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.

Stories about The Prohibition Era, 1919-1933

The Legendary Al Capone

  • Chicago, Illinois

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.


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Clio - Anyone can contribute
23 Mar 2009
06 Apr 2012
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