Prohibition was perhaps one of the most widely debated social reform acts of the 20th century.  Enacted in 1920 by the 18th amendment, the nationwide sale, not consumption of alcohol, which lasted for only 13 years.  With such a huge change in the ways that many were accustomed to in America, came those who would rebel against the legislation, by profiting and taking part in the new, lucrative underground drinking societies.  The constitutional ban on alcohol led to a huge new field for criminal activity, for the manufacturing, transport and supply of alcohol to citizens all across America.  Moonshine quickly became the drink of choice for those who chose to ignore the new legislation.  This moonshine was brewed all across the country, and was transported by bootleggers in their fast new cars, to illegal speakeasies, or underground, isolated bars of the time.  (Digital History)  The profit of this distribution of moonshine was extreme for some, however.  It created perhaps the most powerful organized criminals the country had ever seen, with one man in particular, Al Capone, leading the way.  Capone was a notorious gangster from Chicago, involved in the alcohol trade of the prohibition era.  Capone not only took full advantage of the profits that could be taken from prohibition, but also set the precedent for the ways to run organized crime in America.  His mob “developed interests in legitimate businesses in the cleaning and dyeing field and cultivated influence with receptive public officials, labor unions, and employees’ associations.” (FBI)  By incorporating his business into the legitimate aspects of the city of Chicago, Capone had made a name for himself and had put fear into not only the general population that was in support of prohibition, but also in the lawmakers and police of America.

As one of the general aims of the prohibition movement was to prevent crimes related to the consumption of alcohol, the amendment generally failed to prevent this, as alcohol was still widely accessible through illegal sources.  The prohibition era, if nothing else, led to a higher amount of organized crime, and led to the lucrative underground alcohol business.  For these reasons, prohibition and the 18th amendment lasted much shorter than intended, and gained little popularity throughout the country.

Sources:

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtID=2&psid=3383

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/al-capone

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