Prohibition Essay

1718 Words Apr 9th, 2005 7 Pages
On midnight of January 16, 1920, American went dry. One of the personal habits and everyday practices of most Americans suddenly diminished. The Eighteenth Amendment was passed, and all importing, exporting, transporting, selling, and manufacturing of intoxicating liquor was put to an end. The Congress passed the Amendment on January 16,1919, but it only went into effect a year later. The Volstead Act was passed with the Eighteenth Amendment on October 23, 1919. The Act was named after Andrew Volstead, a Republican representative from Minnesota. The Volstead Act, also known as the "National Prohibition Act", determined intoxicating liquor as anything having an alcoholic content of more than 0.5 percent, excluding alcohol used for medicinal …show more content…
Large cities were the main sites for organized crime. Although there were over a half dozen powerful gangs in New York City, Chicago was the capital of mobsters, including Johnny Torrio, "Bugs Moran", the Gennas, and the O'Banions (McWilliams, 6). From Chicago, however, hailed the most powerful and infamous gangster bootlegger-Al Capone. One of the most horrific and infamous gangster shoot-outs of all time occurred on Valentine's Day in 1929. Because of business differences, Capone had his henchman, Jack "Machine Gun" McGurn plot the murder of the O'Banions, led by Bugs Moran. McGurn went to deliver alcohol to Moran at a warehouse and had his gang members impersonate police officers and pretend to raid their transaction. McGurn killed all that were inside the warehouse with a machine gun. Capone had a solid alibi, being in Miami at the time, and no convictions were ever made. This event is an example of how prohibition fueled gang warfare and increased the crime rate in America (Crime Library, 7). Although it would be thought that prohibition would have made the obtaining of alcohol more difficult, liquor was actually very easy to procure. The bootlegging business was so tremendous that customers could easily obtain alcohol by just walking down almost any street (Prohibition, 1). Replacing saloons, which were all shut down at the start of prohibition, were illegal speak-easies. These secret saloons were hidden in office buildings,

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