American Prohibition: Moral Decay and Corruption in the Roaring Twenties

Also known as the Volstead Act, named after Republican Senator Andrew J. Volstead, the National Prohibition Act was designed to improve the morality of the nation. However, prohibition, the “Noble Experiment,” failed miserably in this respect. Focus/Argument: Prohibition in fact failed to bolster morals as hoped, but instead led to an increase in violent crime and caused morals to slip due to reactionary protest from the people. Paper should focus on the major cities of the twenties such as Chicago, New York, and St. Louis.

Special attention should be focused on the mafia, gangland violence, and bootlegging, as well as the spread of speakeasies and the resulting Jazz culture (flappers, corruption, etc). Introduction: “The so-called Temperance movement, which in fact opposed temperate and responsible enjoyment of alcohol beverages, proposed that to defeat the disease of alcohol dependency among the few allegedly required abstinence from the many. ”1 This was the rationale which enabled the 18th amendment to the U. S. Constitution to be passed.

Also known as the Volstead Act, named after its author the Republican senator Andrew J. Volstead, the National Prohibition Act was designed to improve the morality of the nation. However, prohibition, the “Noble Experiment,” failed miserably in this respect. 2 In fact, it caused an increase in crime and gave impetus to violence on a scale not seen since the days of the old west. Morality also became increasingly lax as speakeasies, Jazz, sexual promiscuity, and flappers mushroomed across the nation, giving full meaning to the term, “The Roaring Twenties.

”  Coupled with post-war prosperity with people having more money and time off than ever before, they looked for things to spend their earnings on as well as for ways to blow off steam. 3 The rise of popular legend stemming from the Prohibition years in the form of movies, books, and people such as mobster Al Capone and Treasury agent Elliott Ness, have had a lasting impact on popular culture through modern times. The Prohibition decade was more than a prohibition on alcohol consumption; it was a prohibition on morals which never has been repealed.

American Prohibition: Moral Decay and Corruption in the Roaring Twenties The 1920s went by various monikers such as the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties. It was a time of prosperity for most Americans. Scientific and technological improvements increased industrial production. The automobile, electric appliances, chemical and construction industries expanded tremendously during the 1920s. People were generally able to afford luxuries. The 1920s was also an era of wild gaiety for part of the population. Novels of the period stressed the rebellion of the youth against the traditional values of their parents.

These groups from the urban areas came to seem typical of the 1920s though actually many more people were leading conservative lives. Women had been given the right to vote in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. For the first time, women wore their dresses short and bobbed their hair; many wore make-up and smoked cigarette’s. They became regulars in the dance scenes in clubs and cabarets where jazz was played. They were called flappers. Some imitated the movie stars they saw in silent files like the glamorous Gloria Swanson and Norma Talmadge and swooned over Rudolf Valentino.

Talking pictures were first introduced in 1927 featuring the Jazz Singer. Jazz music was played everywhere and was most popular in the urban area of New York as it seemed to embody the vitality of the city. Speakeasies sprouted everywhere. Its name bespoke secrecy as these private clubs admonish its customers to speak easy or softly or the police might herar. Charles A. Lindbergh was a completely different type of national hero. In May 27, this young man from the Midwest became the first person to fly alone, nonstop, across the Atlantic Ocean.