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The rise of organised crime was the most important reason for the failure of prohibition.

Explain how far


you agree. (10)
Prohibition was the ban of the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcohol in the United States of America between 1919 and 1933. The law was known as the Volstead Act. In this essay I am going to explain whether I think that organised crime was the most important reason for the failure of Prohibition, I will do this by comparing it to other reasons such as the lack of public support, corruption and problems with enforcement. Organised crime did play a big part in the failure of prohibition. As soon as alcohol was prohibited the gangsters began bootlegging. This meant that they were bringing alcohol in to America from other countries and selling it to people and shops. Gangsters were making millions of dollars out of this scheme because they could sell the alcohol for a much higher price than it was before prohibition because it wasnt widely available any more. However this wasnt the only way they were making money from the organised crime business. The gangs could now get away with setting up prostitution businesses and in the most serious cases even murder. You see the problem was that they were bribing the police, and the judges in the court with alcohol or money to turn a blind eye to bootlegging. But that wasnt all the gangsters were very cleaver, they knew that as soon as the police or a judge had accepted one bribe they could get away with anything by blackmailing them. If it came into the

public eye that a police officer or a judge had accepted a bribe they would be sacked instantly, so they had to keep quiet even when the gangsters were murdering each other. One of the most famous and successful gangsters was a man called Al Capone. He ran a multi-million dollar operation in bootlegging, prostitution and gambling. He could never be brought to justice because he was so cleaver with his bribes. He finally did get sentenced to 6 and a half years in prison for tax evasion. So as you can see organised crime was an important reason why prohibition failed however this is not the full story there are some more reasons why it failed so drastically and was abolished in 1933, I will explain some of those now. In my opinion one of the most important reasons that prohibition failed was the lack of public support. It is always going to be very difficult to enforce a law that a lot of people do not support fully. This was the case with The Volstead Act. It was the 18th amendment to the American Constitution and a majority of the states agreed to it, but pretty much everyone else, especially in the religious deepsouth didnt. So therefore what happened was everyone simply drank more secretly. Prohibition didnt stop people drinking it encouraged people to. It is like if you tell a small mischievous child not to do something, he will want to do it more! So because of this new public demand people opened speakeasys which were underground bars. You would enter what looked like a normal front door of a house, providing you knew the password, then you would continue down many

steps to a fully functional pub. There were more speakeasys than there were pre 1919 saloons (pubs), by 1925 there were over 15 000 speakeasys in Detroit and around 30 000 in New York by 1929. So it is easy to see that prohibition wasnt having the desired effect on the American public. As well as going to the speakeasies some American citizens were making their own alcohol at night by the light of the moon. These people were known as moonshiners. One final thing that happened because of the lack of public support was that organised crime was accepted and in some cases respected in society, simply because the crime they were committing most of the time was smuggling alcohol into America for people. So prohibition was never going to work because people simply were not going to respect or follow the law. Another reason that it failed was because of the big business involved in smuggling alcohol into America, people were prepared to pay big bucks for alcohol. This was helped by the fact that America was surrounded by countries which produced and drank alcohol like there was no tomorrow. Rum was imported from the West Indies and Whiskey was smuggled from Canada. It wasnt just the people who smuggled the alcohol into the country that made a profit though. People would buy it then sell it on for a profit, alcohol could have changed hands for a considerable profit quite a few times before it was actually consumed. This links back to my point before which was that people actually respected criminals. This is because they were

taking the biggest risk and bringing the alcohol into the country so that ordinary people could simply sell it to their neighbour or sell it in their shop. It didnt seem to bother them that the criminals were making millions of dollars from this big business. Joseph Kennedy, John F Kennedys father, made lots of money from buying and selling illegal alcohol. If he hadnt made the money he had made during prohibition there is a very high chance that John, would have not become the President of the USA. However if he hadnt become the President he wouldnt have been assassinated. It just show how one event can affect the future of others dramatically. I think that the rise of organised crime did play a large part in the failure of prohibition however, if the public had accepted the law then these organised criminals wouldnt have had as much support and also if the judges, police and enforcement officers hadnt been so corrupt then organised crime wouldnt have been as much of a problem. So I think that organised crime was a consequence of these two reasons and if it wasnt for corruption and the lack of public support organised crime wouldnt have happened even though it was a big business. So therefore it definitely isnt the most important reason for the failure of prohibition.