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“Can’t I Get a Drink?” PowerPoint Presentation
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“Can’t I Get a Drink?”

“Can’t I Get a Drink?”

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“Can’t I Get a Drink?”

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  1. “Can’t I Get a Drink?” The 1920s: The Politics of Prohibition

  2. Questions: • Was there a dominant culture in 1920s American society? • What were the differences between the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union? What did these groups have in common? • What other social issues are linked to the prohibition movement (besides a end to drinking)? • What socio-economic group had the most interest in seeing Prohibition succeed? Why?

  3. In a Nutshell: • 18th Amendment • Ratified by ¾ of states by 1919 • Prohibited the manufacture or sale of alcoholic beverages in U.S. • Volstead Act (1919) • “National Prohibition Enforcement Act” • Gave 18th Amendment “teeth” • Defined “alcoholic beverage” • Content greater that 0.5 percent • 21st Amendment • Passed in 1933; Repealed 18th Amendment • Ratifying conventions used in each state; 73% approved

  4. Maintain the Grip: • Anglo-Saxon Protestants in Control • Wish to maintain a grip on society: • Immigration Restriction • Anti-Semitism • Most virulent: Henry Ford • KKK Again • “Threats” from Blacks, Jews, and Catholics • Economy: • A-S Protestants controlled manufacturing, railroads, and public utilities

  5. Shifts in Population • Dillingham Commission Report (1910-11) • Birth rates of immigrants and poor “natives” exceeded the “old stock” • By 1911: 2 of 3 students had immigrant parents • Immigrants lived in states with most electoral votes • Republicans ignored needs of this growing group • So, why did we just look at all of this information?

  6. Prohibition • Not new in 1920s: • Maine Law (1851) outlawed manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors • 1855: 13 of 31 states had these laws • Civil War: banned drinking for Union soldiers • Grain needed for food

  7. Scientific Evidence • Scientific Temperance Journal founded after Civil War • Textbooks showed degenerating human organs from drink • Every state/territory in 1902 (except AZ) had laws requiring temperance instruction in schools • Eugenics used • Immigrants inferior since children drank since a young age

  8. WCTU and Anti-Saloon League • Women’s Christian Temperance Union • Progressive group • Frances Willard • Fought for suffrage, 8-hour workday, prison reform, and Social Gospel • To make temperance look attractive to reformers • Progressives: • Prohibition a way to attack urban political bosses (headquarters located in saloons)

  9. Anti-Saloon League (1896) • Only goal: Prohibition • Developed modern lobby techniques • Anti-drinking brochures • Appealed to church membership • Lobbied lawmakers and businessmen • 1900: • Maine, Iowa, and Kansas had laws • 1918: • 28 states had laws

  10. Who was a Prohibitionist? • Largely the A-S establishment • Rural/small-town dwellers • Middle Class • Anglo-Saxon • Evangelical Protestant • Anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-Jew, anti-Catholic • Beliefs/Motives: • Alcohol immoral • Encouraged political machines • Fulfilled personal political ambitions

  11. World War I • Aided cause: • Hysteria against all things foreign • Prohibition linked to patriotism • Liquor industry shown as foreign-controlled in propaganda • Many breweries run by German-Americans • Centralization of government power • Took over railroads and factories • Passed conscription act • Curtailed free-speech • Government seen as upholder of Americans’ moral codes • Limits to individual liberty acceptable for sake of higher social responsibilities.

  12. Results • Enforcement of Volstead Act impossible • Organized crime/smuggling rings grew • Home brewing popular • A-S Legal control succeeded, but social control declined