• Prohibition was the
act of making the
• It was made illegal
by the 18th
amendment to the
constiution in 1919
The Roots of Prohibition
• The prohibition movement stemmed out
from the progressive movement, which
happened at the beginning of the 20th
• The progressive movement was fueled
mainly by the middle class, and
included both economic and social
reforms, such as anti-saloon
Prohibition Roots (cont’d)
• Started in 1883, the
movement and was
responsible for creating
propaganda geared toward
Why support prohibition?
• Many women
associated it with
wife beating and
child abuse. While
they thought it
• Minister preaching about prohibition
• Carrie Nation was a
Kansas extremist in
support of prohibition.
• Resorting to vandalism
as her main fight
against alcohol, she
would often go into bars
with a hatchet and
Views of Prohibition by
• Different regions and different groups of the
US had varying views of the new amendment.
• In the South and West, prohibition was
popularly supported. Southern whites were
more than happy to keep alcohol from blacks,
so they keep “in their place.” Prohibition
motives in the West suggested an attack on
saloons which was associated with crime,
prostitution, and corruption.
Views of Prohibition by
Different Groups (cont’d.)
• In the Eastern cities however,
prohibition was greatly criticized. Many
old-world immigrants and factory
workers were especially accustomed to
• Also, returning Soldiers were not too
fond of the amendment, since it had
been passed while they were over
• Founded in 1869, it was a thriving third-
party in a few elections.
• It still exists today, though it has
drastically declined since 1933.
• Its big success came when the 18th
amendment was ratified, making
intoxicating liquor illegal.
Prohibition for the Wealthy
• Many business leaders thought that the
factory workers would be more
productive if they could not have any
• Henry Ford once said, “The country
couldn’t run without Prohibition. That is
the industrial fact.”
• John D. Rockefeller donated over
$350,00 to the anti-saloon league.
• A speakeasy was an underground
place to buy alcohol during prohibition
years. They became very popular, and
there were quite a few during the
• To get into a speakeasy, one had to
know the password, or else access was
Speakeasies close to home...
• The term “speakeasy” originated in
Pittsburgh when an owner of a Saloon
in Mckeesport, Kate Hester, kept her
customers in her saloon and told them
to “Speak easy boys, speak easy.” It
soon spread from Pittsburgh and
became a national term.
Interesting Facts of
• For every legitimate
saloon that closed
down about six
• By the mid-1920’s
there were an
speakeasies in New
York City alone.
Culture of the Speakeasies
• Speakeasies influenced culture such as
the flapper and the jazz age.
• Dancing and jazz became very popular
in the speakeasy setting. The “flapper”
became an image associated with the
• Since brewers were now
closed down, many made
their own alcohol.
• Moonshine was popular, and
still is, in the Appalachian
Mountain Area. Bathtub gin
also became very popular,
named because glycerine and
juniper juices were made in
jugs that were too tall for
sinks and had to be filled with
How did the speakeasies get
• Many of these illegal bars got alcohol
from bootlegging. They did not have the
means to make their own alcohol, so
men would “run” it from some other
place. In New York City and the
Northeast a majority of the liquor was
• These runners were often gangsters.
• Bootlegging became associated with
organized crime, such as Al Capone in
Chicago and Legs Diamond in New
• It also erupted in violence amongst the
• This was one of the factors that led to
the eventual repeal of the 18th
• Born on January 17,
1899 and grew up in
two small gangs.
• He quit school at the
age of fourteen and
eventually became a
member of the
famous Five Points
Al Capone (cont’d.)
• His job as a five points member was a
bartender/bouncer at the gang’s
• This was where he earned his scars
where that would later make him
• He met his wife Mary “Mae” Coughlin at
a dance and they soon had a son,
Albert “Sonny” Francis Capone.
Al Capone (cont’d.)
• Capone moved to Chicago in 1919 and
went to work for John Torrio, helping
him run his bootlegging business.
• By 1922 he became Torrio’s partner
helping him run his saloons, gambling
houses and brothels.
• When Torrio was shot, Capone
inherited all of his businesses and was
more successful than Torrio was.
• Capone was said to have made
an estimated $60,000 a year,
which today inflates roughly to
$6 million a year.
• However, the mayor of Chicago
eventually felt the need to run
Capone out of town, and
Capone had no where to go.
• He ended up hiding in Florida
for a few years.
• His most notorious killing was the St.
Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929,
where four of his men ending up
slaughtering seven mobsters from a
• Though he murdered dozens of people,
he ended up going to prison for failure
to pay taxes.
Capone in the Slammer.
• Capone was originally sent to
a federal prison in Atlanta.
However, when he started
making deals with some of
the officers, he was relocated
• While at Alcatraz he started
showing symptoms of
syphilitic dementia, and was
hospitalized for the rest of his
• Al “Scarface” Capone was not the only
gangster who became very successful
off of bootlegging, but he was the
definitely the poster child for
speakeasies during the 1920’s.
• Some other famous gangsters included:
“Lucky” Luciano , “Bugs” Moran, and
The End Of Prohibition
• By the time the Great
Depression was in full swing,
many officials had decided it
was time to put an end to this
• In 1933, after FDR was
elected, he put an end to the
18th amendment, stating that,
“America needs a drink.”
Why did prohibition fail?
• Prohibition failed because it was not a
majority movement. Many people,
especially in the Northeastern Cities did
not support prohibition
• There was not enough enforcement,
and most police officers were not in
favor of prohibition.