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Question On Prohibition (US)  
User currently offlinekaitak From Ireland, joined Aug 1999, 12472 posts, RR: 37
Posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 1768 times:

I'm just watching one of my favourite movies, "The Untouchables" and one thing struck me (ok, apart from Sean Connery's attempt at an Irish accent):

What happened to all of the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks during this era; there are more than a few today which were around at that time - JD, Jim Bean, Coors, etc etc. They must have been hit quite badly.
(a) Were they allowed to export, even if their products could not be sold in the US?
(b) The Prohibition legislation must have caused quite a bit of unemployment as a result of some companies failing, not to mention the suppliers of all the ingredients; given that Prohibition existed around the time of the depression, was the need to create employment a key factor in bringing about the end of Prohibition?
(c) Did a large number of alcoholic drink manufacturers go out of business during this time?
(d) If not related to (b) above, what were the key factors which brought about the end of Prohibition?

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinefuturepilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1734 times:

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(a) Were they allowed to export, even if their products could not be sold in the US?

No idea, but my answer is probably not

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(b) The Prohibition legislation must have caused quite a bit of unemployment as a result of some companies failing, not to mention the suppliers of all the ingredients; given that Prohibition existed around the time of the depression, was the need to create employment a key factor in bringing about the end of Prohibition?

It did cause a lot of unemployment, but those laid off workers started creating homemade alcohol, which if i'm not mistaken where moonshine comes from. They sold this alcohol in underground bars and brothels. This early amateur brewing is what ultimately led to all the Mafia violence with guys like Al Capone selling bootleg booze and trying to sell it behind legitmate business. This violence was one of the key factors in bringing about the end of prohibition.

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(c) Did a large number of alcoholic drink manufacturers go out of business during this time?

Thousands, if I remember correctly. I was watching the history channel once and there were literally thousands of breweries throughout the United States before prohibition. Most of them failed, because they were locally owned and didn't export much. The largest, such as Anheuser busch and as you said Jim Bean and a few others survived.

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(d) If not related to (b) above, what were the key factors which brought about the end of Prohibition?

Well as I said, the violence was huge part of it. After Prohibition was repealed, the Mafias were dealt a major blow. Also, when Prohibition was first enacted, it completely collapsed the alcohol industry. Also, prohibiton brought on a huge black market which strained the economy. All these things were pretty unpopular, and with the great depression in full swing, it just seemed to Roosevelt like the best thing to do.



"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
User currently offlinegarnetpalmetto From United States of America, joined Oct 2003, 5395 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1731 times:

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(a) Were they allowed to export, even if their products could not be sold in the US?

Nope. According to the 18th Amendment "the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited."

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
What happened to all of the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks during this era; there are more than a few today which were around at that time - JD, Jim Bean, Coors, etc etc. They must have been hit quite badly.

Most of them switched over to other products or ventures. I know Anheuser-Busch went the soft drink route and I believe the Beams entered into citrus, coal mining, limestone quarrying, etc.

Futurepilot addressed everything else pretty adequately. There's a great quote by John D. Rockefeller which sums up the need to repeal the 18th Amendment pretty well:

When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.

Interestingly, you have Prohibition to thank in part for Big Tobacco. Interestingly, North Carolina was one of the biggest producers of wine in the US at the time of Prohibition, albeit scuppernong and muscadine wines and not vinafera wines. With the onset of Prohibition, many farmers who grew scuppernongs and muscadines to convert into wine decided to switch over to tobacco. Now that tobacco isn't anywhere nearly as profitable as it once was, many tobacco growers are going back to wine, including vinafera wines. The NC wine industry is growing steadily and is turning out some pretty good product. Anybody interested in trying some diamonds in the rough or doing a NC winery trip, let me know and I'll give good suggestions/info.



South Carolina - too small to be its own country, too big to be a mental asylum.
User currently offlinewaterpolodan From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1649 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1728 times:

Quoting futurepilot16 (Reply 1):
Also, when Prohibition was first enacted, it completely collapsed the alcohol industry.

I don't think you can use the collapse of the alcohol industry as one of the reasons why prohibition was repealed, it's not like they didn't think that would happen when they decided to ban the production, sale, and consumption of any alcoholic beverages! The repeal was mostly because of the rampant crime and disregard for the law that you mentioned, not so much the economic cost of putting many companies out of business, as AFAIK there wasn't a particularly unified alcohol producer's lobby at that point to give DC hell for destroying their industry.


User currently offlinePacNWjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 980 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 1716 times:

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
(c) Did a large number of alcoholic drink manufacturers go out of business during this time?

I can speak from indirect personal experience on this one. My great grandfather and a business partner started an alcohol distillery in the southern United States in the late 1800s which continued in existence until Prohibition. Obviously, when Prohibition went into effect the company's operations were suspended. Fortunately, my great grandfather was a savvy entrepreneur who had investments in several industries, including a fledgling soft drink manufacturer headquartered in Atlanta (try to figure out which one!). After Prohibition (by which time he had moved to the northeast U.S.), he started a new distillery (my father tells me my great grandfather held one of the first alcohol licenses after Prohibition was repealed) which operated successfully until my father sold the business in the 1970s in the face of competition from much larger distilleries that operated nationally.


User currently offlinewaterpolodan From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1649 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 1699 times:

Quoting PacNWjet (Reply 4):
(try to figure out which one!)

Congratulations, your great grandfather was in some small way responsible for the current employment of one of this board's most "interesting" members!


User currently offlinefuturepilot16 From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2035 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 1677 times:

Quoting waterpolodan (Reply 3):
I don't think you can use the collapse of the alcohol industry as one of the reasons why prohibition was repealed

Well of course not, it indirectly affected the repeal. It's collapse was so large that it had a huge effect on the economy about $500 million in revenue nationwide. Not only that, but the Negative effects of the collapse of the industry left thousands of people with alcohol brewing knowledge, out of work. These people ended up selling homemade alcohol through the black market that was one of the largest effects to the economy at the time.



"The brave don't live forever, but the cautious don't live at all."
User currently offlineltbewr From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 13115 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (4 years 1 month 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 1654 times:

Quoting kaitak (Thread starter):
What happened to all of the manufacturers of alcoholic drinks during this era; there are more than a few today which were around at that time - JD, Jim Bean, Coors, etc etc. They must have been hit quite badly.
(a) Were they allowed to export, even if their products could not be sold in the US?
(b) The Prohibition legislation must have caused quite a bit of unemployment as a result of some companies failing, not to mention the suppliers of all the ingredients; given that Prohibition existed around the time of the depression, was the need to create employment a key factor in bringing about the end of Prohibition?
(c) Did a large number of alcoholic drink manufacturers go out of business during this time?
(d) If not related to (b) above, what were the key factors which brought about the end of Prohibition?

A) No, unless for 'medical purposes'.

B) Not really, some just went to work in other growing industries in the 1920's, including a wide range of manufacturing, especially cars. See D for other factors in my opinion.

C) Yes, especially small local hard alcohol, wine makers and especially beer brewers. Some large alcohol makers like National Distillers (a company that existed until broken up in the 1990's) made industrial alcohol or diversived into other chemical products. Coors for example made it's own glass bottles since it started in the 1870's and expanded into making cermaic products, a division they spun off only about 10 years ago. A-B made yeast, bread, malt beverages and until a few years ago still made such products under their brand names or others of companies they bought out. Some companies bottled soda, non-alcohol malted beverages. Some made 'wine blocks', concentrated blocks of dried grapes or sold unpasturized grape juice or grapes for wine as eating grapes, so one only had to find some bottles or corks and crush some grapes or set up the unpasturized juice for a while and viola, one had wine with alcohol. I would note that some Roman Catholic religious orders were allowed to make wine for religous service purposes. More than a few bottles ended up outside of Mass services. Some companies were also allowed to make alcohol products for 'medicinal' purposes, requiring a Doctors prescription and pruchase at a Pharmacy.

D) About the same time as Prohibition ended, we also entered an era where more Government regulation was acceptable. In some countries like the UK, they limited hours of sale, required licenses for producers and sellers of alcohol during WW I to deal with the abuse of alcohol where in our country we went to total national prohibition. In the USA after Prohibition ended, reasonable regulation was created to make the sale legal again. Clearly Prohibition was a failed expirment, the business taken over by criminal syndicats that were violent and made a lot of money mainly led by women and the equivilent of the religious right in the late 19-teens. Their targets were often the big cities, immigrants, the poor (gee, just like today's tea party in a way). That the business continued underground, the government losing badly needed tax income and a need to end Prohibition for sound political reasons and for Democrats to get urban area and immigrant voters led to the eventual end of National Prohibition. I would note that some areas and states had total prohibition until the late 1950's, some counties and near Indian reservatios and most reservations still have prohibition.


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