Did Prohibition lead to the Birth of Organized Crime?

Evan Rodriguez
English III D2, 4, 6
Ms. Muradian
29 March 2001
Did Prohibition lead to the Birth of Organized Crime?
Introduction- did prohibition lead to the birth of organized crime?
I. Prohibition
A. Legal ban on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drink
B. Alcohol alarmed those concerned with public health and morals
C. Drunkenness is considered an evil in most religions
1. Many religious and political leaders began to see drunkenness as a national curse
2. Islam for centuries has forbidden even the moderate use of fermented drink
II. The Early Prohibition Movement in the U.S.

A. In England and American colonies, governments after 1750 made many futile efforts to discourage the use of alcohol
1. Believed there was a close relationship between drunkenness and the rising incidence of crime, poverty, and violence
2. Only way to protect society from this threat was to abolish the drunkard-making business
B. first state prohibition law passed in Maine in 1851
1. Prohibited manufacture and sale of spirituous or intoxicating liquors not intended for medical or mechanical purposes
2. 13 of the 31 states had such laws by 1855
3. By 1916, 23 of the 48 states had adopted antisaloon laws
C. Post-Civil War
1. Political crisis preceding American Civil War distracted attention from Prohibition
a. Many early state laws were modified, repealed, or ignored
b. For years few restraints were placed on manufacturing or selling anything alcoholic
2. With population increase came more then 100,000 saloons throughout the country
a. Saloons became very competitive for the drinkers' wages.

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b. Many permitted gambling, prostitution, sales to minors, public drunkenness, and violence.

III. Temperance Movements
A. Progressives
B. Anti-Saloon League, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, and the Prohibition Party
C. Women's War broke out across the nation in 1873
1. Marched from church meetings to saloons, using prayer and song demanding that saloonkeepers give up their businesses
2. Alcohol regarded as the most dangerous social institution threatening the family
D. On December 22, 1917, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors
IV. National Prohibition in the U.S
A. National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act)
1. Enforced the 18th amendment
2. Made exceptions for liquors sold for medicinal, sacramental, industrial purposes, and fruit or grape beverages made for personal use
B. Wasnt enough money provided for more than token enforcement
1. Opportunity to disregard the law through smuggling, distilling, fermenting, and brewing
2. More of a ideal then reality
V. Effects of Prohibition
A. Inspired an extensive body of colorful literature
1. Moral decay
2. Social disorder due to Volsteadism
a. intolerable searches
b. seizures
c. shootings by police
B. Distorted the role of alcohol in American life
1. Drink more rather than less;
2. Promoted disrespect for the law;
3. Generated a wave of organized criminal activity, during which the bootlegger, the "speakeasy", and the gangster became popular institutions;
a. Al Capone
(1) Chicago mobster who was the leader of worlds largest crimefamily
(2) Did what the public wanted; Loved by every one
(3) Worked with Torrio
b. Johnny Torrio
(1)Leader of the James Street Gang
(2) Retired to Capone
4. Profits available to criminals from illegal alcohol corrupted almost every level of government.

5. Rise in the crime rate
VI. End of Prohibition
A. 21st amendment
1. Submitted by the Association against Prohibition Amendment (AAPA)
2. Repealed the 18th amendment
B. End in associated Crime
1. organized crime focused on more sophisticated crimes
a. large-scale gambling
b. loan-sharking
c. labor racketeering
2. Crime and violence associated with alcohol decreased after legalization
C. Now state problem rather than Federal
Conclusion- Prohibition did indeed lead to the birth and growth of organized crime.


Evan Rodriguez
Ms. Muradian
English III L4
29 March 2001
Did Prohibition lead to the Birth of Organized Crime?
Prohibition in the United States was a measure designed to reduce drinking by eliminating the businesses that manufactured, distributed, and sold alcoholic beverages. The Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took away license to do business from the brewers, distillers, vintners, and the wholesale and retail sellers of alcoholic beverages. The leaders of the prohibition movement were alarmed at the drinking behavior of Americans, and they were concerned that there was a culture of drink among some sectors of the population that, with continuing immigration from Europe, was spreading (Why Prohibition 2). Between 1860 and 1880 America's urban population grew from 6 million to more than 14 million people. The mass of this huge increase found itself toiling in factories