alcohol ban 1920-33



  • Members of groups such as 'Anti-Saloon League' - were often christians who believed the use of alcohol was a sin. They blamed the 'demand drink' for many social problems such as violence, crime, the breakdown of marriage and sexual immorality.
  • On 20th January, 1920 the government agreed to the 18th Amendment to the Us Constitution this banned the manufacture, sale and consumption of alcohol.
  • However many people in the cities such as; New York and Chicago, still wanted to drink and resented this attack on their personal freedom.
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Organised Crime.

  • Some Americans took to creating their own alcohol called moonshine or bath-tub gin.
  • To meet the needs of those Americans who still wanted to drink 'organised crime' set up an alternative, illegal industry producing and selling alcohol.
  • Bootleggers smuggled alcohol across the Canadian border or opened secret breweries to make their own drink.
  • They also set up 'speakeasies' - illegal bars, which could be found in every town in the country. They were st in secret and were shut down if found out by the authorities. -in New York, 1925 there were 100,000 speakeasies.
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Al Capone

  • Gangsters, like Al capone and Bugs Moran ran rival gangs to control the bootlegging.
  • They were able to avoid prosecution by bribing polititians and police men- in Chicago capone used the Mayor, Bill Thompson as his 'puppet'.
  • Also there were only 2.500 enforcement agents making it impossible to stop the bootleggers.
  • Capone was not afraid to use violence to remove those who stood in his way to tried to compete.
  • Capone is thought to have been behind most of the 130 murders in Chicago in 1926/7.
  • The most notorious incident took place on 14th February 1929 when Capone had 6 members of Moran's gang murdered by his mobsters, dressed as policemen. The St Valentine;s Day Massacre did not lead to Capone's arrest throuugh as he was in Florida that day, providing himself with an alibi.
  • The end of Capone was prosecuted for income tax evasion and sentanced to 11 years in jail.
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