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The prohibition in the united states during world war one

The following post was written by a guest blogger. If you would like to contribute a guest blog post, read the guidelines. In the United States, the outbreak of the war brought about a significant event impacting every citizen.


It was in this wartime environment that the 18th Amendment was ratified and Prohibition began. Alcohol, they believed, was a moral scourge upon families, leaving them impoverished and destitute, and saloon practices fostered public corruption.

They pointed not only to big breweries and distilleries but to groups like the German-American Alliance and the United States Brewers Association, calling them manufacturers of systemic abuse and arguing that the evils of alcohol destroyed families and communities.

Businesses prepared for Prohibition The wets, opponents of prohibition, however, staved off for years any alcohol restriction through their lobbying and commercial interests.

Wet leaders like Adolphus Busch embarked on massive public relations campaigns showing the essential role the alcohol industry played in the American economy. Federal tax revenue depended heavily on alcohol sales, but that all changed drastically in 1913 following passage of the 16th Amendment implementing an income tax.

  • But drinking did not return to pre-war levels;
  • Despite very early signs of success, including a decline in arrests for drunkenness and a reported 30 percent drop in alcohol consumption, those who wanted to keep drinking found ever-more inventive ways to do it;
  • However inflation was high and, in an attempt to reduce operating costs, businesses laid off workers and reduced wages;
  • Alcohol, they believed, was a moral scourge upon families, leaving them impoverished and destitute, and saloon practices fostered public corruption;
  • During the war, the number of workers in Labor Unions increased dramatically.

No longer was the government reliant on alcohol excise taxes, which gave the progressive advocates much needed support for the complete ban on alcohol. Final Blow The final blow for the wet camp came in 1916 with the escalation of hostilities between the U.

Unrestricted submarine warfare, which was taking its toll on U. The Committee on Public Information embarked on a propaganda campaigned aimed at demonizing Germans, which in turn made German-Americans a suspicious target, and in particular, the brewing industry. Critical food supplies were needed to feed large European armies and the Anti-Saloon League interpreted the production of beer as a waste of precious resources.

For the Anti-Saloon League and the drys, this was the perfect moment to enact prohibition legislation.

World War I Led to Prohibition

Congress had already passed the Wartime Prohibition Act in 1918 restricting grain supplies to breweries, but now total prohibition enshrined as a constitutional amendment became a reality.

In mid-1919, as U. In graduate school, he taught U. Thomas volunteers with the Midwestern History Association helping with their social media outreach as a contributing editor. He lives in St.

  • The impact and effects of the Great War on America were extremely diverse and directly led to the period in history from 1917-1920 referred to as the First Red Scare and the emergence of the 1920's Ku Klux Klan;
  • The letter columns of The Times were filled with debate over prohibition, or appeals for the adoption of total abstinence — considered morally superior to state coercion;
  • In addition, fundamentalist and nativist forces had gained more control over the temperance movement, alienating its more moderate members.

Louis and spends much of his time with the Scottish St. Enjoyed reading this post? Join the mailing list and receive updates in your inbox whenever a new post is published.

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