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A NATION OF DRUNKARDS

MIAMI BEACH, Florida, Jan. 25 1947. Al Capone, ex-Chicago gangster and


prohibition era crime leader, died in his home here tonight." Death came very
suddenly," said Dr. Kenneth S. Phillips, who has been attending Capone since he
was stricken with apoplexy Tuesday." All the family was present. His wife, Mae,
collapsed and is in very serious condition." Dr. Phillips said death was caused by
heart failure. Al Capone was one of the most notorious gangsters America has
known. Al Capone came up in the dry era of the United States, and gained public
knowledge through his merciless ways to settle conflicts. However, he was not
the only one who came up during the prohibition. How could it be that a relatively
crimeless America evolved to be a country which was almost controlled by the
underworld?
A nation with a drinking problem
In the early years of the 1800s, most of the American citizens drink all day. They
drink when they wake up and they drink when the go to sleep. Physicians
recommend liquor for health reasons and a bell rung twice a day for grog-time.
When it was grog time, almost every drinking man in the United States raised
their glass to have a beer or another intoxicating beverage. As long as the people
kept drinking beers there was nothing to be worried about. But things changed
when a great part of the people shifted their beverages from beer to harder
liquor. They started drinking, for example, whiskey and rum. This is the start of a
so called Nation of Drunkards.
If you drank, it as a sign of masculinity that took away masculinity. This meant
that you drank to show that you are a man, but then you would lose it all because
you drank. Most men worked all week and at the end of that week, they would go
to saloons and bars to toast to celebrate the weekend. If they then came home,
all drunk, they did whatever they wanted to do. They were very violent and
eventually they could not take care of their family anymore.
In 1840, six men in Baltimore decided that they would never drink again. They
founded the Society of Reformed Drunkards and named it a Washingtonian
Society. After the first society was founded, several other Washingtonian Societies
would rise up. Most of these Washingtonian Societies were supported by
protestant citizens. The same citizens who were against slavery would now rise
up against the drunkards in what they called temperance movements. Several
initiatives rose up and the temperance movement began to grow. Reverend
Thomas Hunt founded the Cold Water Army. This was a children organization that
focused on reforming children to not drink alcohol, instead of trying to save
already drinking adults. Susan Anthony founded the Woman Temperance Society
and there are many other examples of initiatives against a nation of drunkards.
But the first real law that passed was the Maine Law. This law was accepted by
Mayor Neal Dow. Neal Dow was a big supporter of the temperance movement
and with the Maine Law he laid a total ban on alcohol in Maine. But this law was
full of mazes and loopholes such that inhabitants of Maine could still drink

alcohol. Some citizens started smuggling liquor into Maine, others became hid
their booze in their pants hose and then sold it on street corners. They were
called bootleggers. But the already explosively grown temperance movement
gained a big hit in the 1860s. The drinking problem was overshadowed by other
problems, like the battle to abolish slavery and the Civil War. The Civil War was
the cause that the temperance movement had to start over. People began to
drink again to forget the cruelties of the war and the new central government
needed a lot of money to restore the economy of the United States, which was
damaged by the expenses of the war. The solution to the problem was found in
taxes. They started to raise taxes on alcohol and in a few years one third of the
American economy was based on alcohol. When the Civil War ends in 1865, the
number of German and Irish immigrants increases. These new immigrants bring
their own culture and own habits with them. A result is that the drinking starts to
rapidly increase.
With the heavy drinking, the temperance movements regain its strength. A great
example is Eliza J. Thomas. When she loses her son she starts a movement and
leads groups of women to saloons to pray for the drinkers inside. The womans
crusade works and she visits 911 communities and closes thirteen-hundred
saloons and bars, but it turns out to be too much work. The women are not able
to feed their families and do the housework anymore. As a consequence of the
ending of the womens crusade, saloons are reopening because there were no
laws against it, but Thomas mission was not pointless. Francis Elizabeth Caroline
Willard, Saint Francis, founded the Womans Christian Temperance Unit, which
would become the biggest temperance movement until then. She made it her life
work to stop the consumption of alcohol. But the WTCU didnt stop at alcohol, it
expanded to over forty departments with different causes. For example home
protection, free kindergartens and the age of sex consent moved up from 10 to
16. The greatest and most important department was the Department of
Scientific Temperance Instruction, which worked through school systems. 22
million children had 3 times per week temperance classes, which demonized
alcohol.
But why were there so many movements and initiatives against alcohol? The
reason is that the life in the saloons was terrible wonderful. For some hard
working men it was the only reason that they could keep doing their jobs. But it
was not only a place for drinks. It was a social club, new members of the
community met new people, there were translators for immigrants and
paychecks were delivered in the saloons, as well as letters if you did not have a
post address yet. Even jobs were distributed in the saloons. In 1890, eleven of
the twenty-four aldermen in New York ran bars. Logically corruption arose. These
aldermen bought their votes for a glass of whisky and a cigar.
But the real leaders of the society were the brewing companies. The brewing
companies owned the saloons. Everybody could start a saloon if they promised to
only sell the beer from one brewery. The brewing company would pay for the
license, the location and even for the furniture. Back then they would even serve
free lunches, mostly very salt lunches, because the people would then drink

more. All levels of societies did the same and everybody hung around each other,
from hard working citizens to politicians and from (corrupt) cops to thugs and
pimps. Even in states where alcohol was prohibited in the constitution, like in
Kansas, there were bars. This was a result of the entanglement of bars and
politics.
As a result of the ongoing corruption, the Anti-Saloon League was founded in
1893. The Anti-Saloon League would turn out to be the most effective political
group for the dry side. It had only one cause, a dry United States. The Anti-Saloon
League was organized as a business, it had a headquarter, a full time staff, a
sufficient financing and a printing plant to spread propaganda. Wayne Bidwell
Wheeler would become the face of the league. The Anti-Saloon League became
so powerful that it convinced state after state to vote dry. Meanwhile the United
States became an industrial bulwark because of the immigrants. Many different
cultures came with the immigrants and the States became a melting pot of
different cultures. The native Anglo-Saxon Protestantism was not the only religion
anymore. East European Jews and Catholic Irish men moved to America and
brought their drinking habits with them. The Anti-Saloon League focused on the
Native Americans and stated that: Real Americans did not need a saloon. They
were better than that. But nevertheless the United States produced ninehundred million barrels of beer yearly.
As the dry side had the Anti-Saloon League, the wet side had the GermanAmerican Alliance as most important political group. This was an alliance
between German breweries in America. They were, obviously, for the distribution
of alcohol and their main character was Adolphus Busch, a German beer brewer.
In 1913 the Anti-Saloon League had convinced eight states to vote dry and
accept a sort of prohibition in their constitution. But the country still depended on
the taxes on alcohol and thus an amendment was financial unthinkable. But then
something happened what the German-American Alliance had not foreseen, and
neither did any drinking citizen. The income tax passed and it was now possible
for the national government to lose the alcohol tax, without the problem that an
entire part of the economy would collapse. However it was not yet so far that the
dry side had won. In 1920, the big cities would become more important in voting
for a national law. Since the cities were wet, the Anti-Saloon League had to
handle quick. It lobbied for the dry side in several important cities, and these
cities came to support the prohibition and in 1914, another 8 states accepted a
sort of prohibition in their constitution.
A Dry Nation
At the moment when the United States decide to interfere in the Great War, in
which they join the side of the Allies, the battle for an amendment in the
Constitution for prohibition starts to rapidly evolve. As most people probably
know, the Germans werent only the opponent of the allies in the Second World
War, they were also involved in the Great War. At opponent sides of the United
States. It wasnt really a problem for Wheeler to make the German-Americans
look bad. The German-American Society had always supported the causes of the
Germans in the Great War until the moment the United States interfered in the

war. Wheelers mission was to let the citizens of the United States think that
there was a link between the Great War and beer. He wanted to show that the
German Forces and the German brewers in America were connected and thus
beer was bad. To pass a proposal into the Constitution it first has to be accepted
in the White house and then it has to be accepted in two third of the states.
The opposition of the Anti-Saloon League, in the embodiment of Spencer Penrose,
presents Wheeler with the option to get the White House and the States to
accept the proposal within seven years, otherwise it would never be an issue
again. Penrose offered this to Wheeler, thinking that seven years was never going
to be enough to persuade two third of the states to accept the proposal. In 1918
the prohibition act was proposed in the White House and, as expected, the
prohibition act was accepted with 282 votes in favor and 128 against the
prohibition. But then came the hard part, at least that is what the wets thought,
to convince all the states, or at least two third of them, to back the prohibition
act. It only took Wheeler and his companions thirteen months to get 36 states to
sign the act and therefore it was accepted as an amendment in the Constitution
of the United States of America. On the 16th of January 1920, it was official and
there was not to be sold any more liquor in America. But with the passing of the
prohibition act the country lost one of its five biggest industries and besides the
loss of income for the United States government it also cost tens of thousands of
citizens their jobs in breweries. But not only in breweries there were jobs lost,
also in alcohol related industries there were major cut backs, for example the
bottling plants and truck drivers. The proponents of the prohibition thought that
together with the amendment being a fact, the alcohol related problems would
stop. Because it was now a national (/federal?) law that it was forbidden to
consume, buy, sell or make liquor. There was also a national law that forbid killing
and people didnt just go out to kill others, so it was presumed that everyone
stopped drinking alcohol. But that was not what happened. The same day that
the prohibition was absorbed in the Constitution the robberies of liquor transports
started.
In 1920, the amendment is accepted as a part of the Constitution. It is now
nationally forbidden to sell liquor in the United States, but this does not mean
that the distributing of alcohol stopped. Liquor was still being sold by so called
bootleggers, it even goes so far that the bootleggers walk into the White House
to sell liquor to the same people who accepted the law that forbids to sell liquor.
But in the beginning of the prohibition era, the law shows success. The alcohol
consumption drops with over 30% and the amount of public drunkenness also
goes down. Grape growers start to cultivate other goods instead of the main
ingredient of wine. Beer gets publicly replaced with alcohol free beer and Brewers
like Anheuser-Busch start to shift their markets from beer to ice creams, soft
drinks and even yeast. And the stocks of Coca Cola start to rise in value. But it is
not the utopia the dry hope it would be. Corruption arises, home grown alcohol
growers start to distribute their products and there is an increasing number of
gang related, and alcohol related, violence. A new term for law breaking citizens
shows up. Citizens who ignore the 18th Amendment are called scofflaws.

Since the 18th Amendment was a fact, there yet had to be an act that included
the prosecution of people who broke the amendment and still occupied
themselves with distribution of liquor. This so called Volstead Act was enacted to
enforce the Prohibition Act, because the 18th Amendment was not solid to
completely remove alcohol from American soil. It was written such that it had
many mazes in it. There were so many opportunities to still sell liquor that the
corruption stretched out to the White House. The Volstead Act was there to
prohibit any intoxicating liquor. This meant that instead of banning only hard
liquor it also prohibited all beverages that contained an alcohol percentage above
a half of a percent.
Enforcing the prohibition act was more difficult than expected. The cause of this
lies in the notation of the law. It is noted that the local government should carry
out the law and thus should finance it. But a great part of the local governments
did not want to enforce the 18th amendment or would at least not pay for it. They
thought that if the White House was so eager to ban all the alcohol they should
enforce it themselves. This was the reason that in 1920 all states spend
approximately a little over $600,000 on enforcing the prohibition act. This was
one eight of the amount they spend on enforcing fishing laws.
A Nation of Corruption and Crime
In New York City the start of the 18th Amendment meant that a lot of bars closed
up, but over a thousand illegal joints opened their doors for costumers. The dry
called New York Satans Seat. The proponents of the prohibition said they needed
a small army of two-hundred-fifty thousand federal agents to enforce the law, but
instead of that number they got two hundred federal agents. These federal law
enforcement officers were elected by politicians, what was a main cause of the
rising of corruption among the politicians. They suddenly had a lot of jobs to give
away, and these were not low money jobs. It paid decent to be a federal agent. A
consequence of the corrupt politicians was that the wrong people got the jobs,
mostly because the men they choose were corrupt as well. And the police
department of New York did not help either, they were too busy to solve real
crimes in order to help the federal agents catching men who wanted to drink.
Thats when the dry pushed through another enforcement law. The Mullen-Gage
Act, which meant that now 44% of the cases that came to court were prohibition
cases, this was over fifty thousand cases per year.
But not only the federal agents were corrupt, slowly everything became corrupt.
The local police department was also corrupt and every favor was for sale. But
the big difference between the local police department and the feds was that the
federal agents had a sole purpose of catching moonshiners and bootleggers and
therefore they were a lot less attractive to bribe than police department. A lot of
straight federal agents were unpopular and came often in the position that they
were attacked by bootleggers and the bribed officers.

Because of the easily bribable officers there arose an opportunity for every man
who wanted to get rich. This opportunity was called bootlegging and if there ever
was a king of bootleggers, George Remus was it. George Remus was a criminal
attorney and a good one, but every time he defended a bootlegger he was
impressed by the way the bootleggers simply paid the fines, in cash. He thought
that if these dumb and often hillbilly bootleggers could make so much money, he
would make a fortune. George Remus was already rich, because of his work as a
criminal attorney. In the time that Remus started his bootlegging business,
distilleries had enormous amounts of liquor, for example whiskey, which they
distributed to drug stores. Remus bought a distillery and opened a drugstore, so
he would be the buyers as the seller as well. He would send his trucks from the
distillery to the drugstores and let them be hijacked underway by his own men.
After that he would make sure the booze landed in the illegal liquor circuit. This is
what he called, the Circle. He chose Cincinnati as the place where he would keep
his headquarters, because all the important distilleries were in a three-hundred
mile radius from there. As his business flourished he bought more and more
distilleries, he opened more drugstores and even founded a trucking company to
distribute the liquor. He also chose a central place to be his distribution center.
This distribution center had fifty acres of ground and was loaded with alcohol. To
protect the Death Valley, as his men called the distribution center, he had hired
gunmen guard the miles long road to the center. His expectation became reality,
he made a fortune. On average they collected up to 79,000 dollars in the center.
Remus soon had 3,000 employees working three shifts a day and was doing
millions of dollars in business a year.
To remain untouched George Remus bribed a small army of local, state and
federal officials. However he wanted more. He needed permits to withdraw all of
the whisky from his own distilleries. These permits were issued by the national
government. This is why he needed direct access to the White House. He met
with Jess Smith, friend of the attorney general Harry Daugherty. Through Smith
Remus could get all the permits he wanted to have for two and a half dollar per
case. For fifty grand Smith promised Remus that he would never have to go to
jail, he would be protected from punishment. George Remus paid Jess Smith and
from that moment on the real growth of the business of Remus really exploded.
In less than a year he had made six million dollars. He had established a new
supply depot in Ohio and owned nine distilleries. But George Remus had become
too greedy, he went too far. He bought a distillery in Indiana and operated under
the jurisdiction of a incorruptible prohibition direct Morgan. This led to the end of
Remus. When they started seizing trucks that were loaded with alcohol, they
traced a truck back to the death valley and found the books of Remus. A few
months later the government indicted Remus. The charges were that he had
violated the Volstead act over 3000 times. When Remus was found guilty of these
charges and was sentenced to serve two years in prison he appealed and fled to
Washington to speak to Jess Smith. Smith assured him again that Remus had
nothing to worry about and would never go to prison. But a few weeks later Jess
Smith committed suicide because there were allegations that Smith was involved
in corruption in the old Harding administration. Remus would serve two years in

jail and when he came out his wife had betrayed him with a police officer and left
him.
Another example of exploitation of the 18th amendment is the Chicago outfit.
Because of the prohibition small time criminals, could become big time
bootleggers. It was the same job but the products they smuggled where way
more worth than before. Most of these small time criminals were poor immigrants
with little to lose but with great ambition. Almost every (big) city had a leader in
the underworld. Joe and Beeny Bernstein and Harry and Louis Fleischer ruled
Detroit with the Purple Gang. Charles King Solomon ruled New England,
Philadelphia was ruled by Max Hoff, Los Angeles had Vito Di Giorgio and Johnny
Lazia controlled Kansas City with his companion Tom Pendergast. The only city
that was too big to be controlled by one man was New York, but four men tried
which led to a twelve year long war.
But the most feared and one of the greatest mafia crime families was the Chicago
Outfit. With one of the most notorious gangsters of all time: Al Capone. Al Capone
was chief enforcer for the Chicago Vice boss John Torrio. Since there were a lot of
immigrants in Chicago there were a lot of gangs. There was OBannion, a Irish
safe cracker who lead the North Side Gang. The Irish smuggled liquor from
Canada. There was Genna, a Sicilian brewer and controlled the Near West Side.
The Italians had dozens of stills installed in private homes. And there was Saltis,
the leader of the Southwest Side Gang. Polack Joe was infamous for his
settlements with the Thompson machine gun or Tommy gun. The reason these
gangs could co-exist was John Torrio, who made sure the different gangs did not
interfere in each other businesses. The other reason the Chicago Outfit continued
to gain strength was the mayor of Chicago: Big Bill Thompson. The chief of the
Chicago police even admitted that 60% of the officers were bootleggers. Torrios
and Capones syndicate was worth millions of dollars per month, they made their
money through prostitutes, gambling and bootlegging. But when Big Bill
Thompson was replaced, the crime syndicate already moved their headquarters
to Cicero. Every time the Outfit was threatened, Al Capone would jump in to
settle the disagreement at his terms, violently.
The Chicago Outfit is a perfect example of how a relatively small organization
becomes quickly bigger, with the sole cause as the prohibition. Without the
bootlegging they would have probably made some money, but not on the
enormous scale they eventually did in the 1920s. But not only the Chicago Outfit,
which is the only syndicate which does not operate under the control of the Cosa
Nostra, grew big in the 1920s. Also the Genovese family, one of the five crime
families that form the Cosa Nostra, became big trough smuggling. The most
important gangster in the 1920s who set up the Luciano Family (later the
Genovese Family) is Charles Lucky Luciano. When Luciano joins Arnold
Rothstein, Rothstein teaches Luciano how to run a bootlegging business. In 1925
Luciano was making twelve million dollars a year. This was the beginning of
Lucianos crime family which would later become one of the most powerful
families in America, mostly because of the money Luciano made in the
prohibition era.

From drunken nation to criminal nation


In the beginning of the 1800s, America was terrorized by drunkards and with
them, with violence and a lot of domestic problems. Until the moment that the
first six pioneers of temperance movements began their society of non-drinkers,
America continued to be a drunken nation. But then the atmosphere in America
changed. A lot of temperance movements won in strength and aside from a short
period of denial during the 1860s, the temperance movements became bigger
and more important in the States. The WTCU and the ASL caused a revolution in
America until they reached what they wanted: A dry nation. But with an
amendment in the Constitution of the United States, corruption and crime rose.
Local, state and Federal officials became corrupt. It even went so far that, officials
in the White House, who had supported the 18 th amendment, turned out to be
corrupt. Crime rose and the men who chose crime as their path, made fortune
and gained lots of influence. At the end of the prohibition in 1933, a couple of
criminals and their crime syndicates had become so powerful, that they
controlled greater parts of the society and the government.

Block/Face 1 Carrie Nation


Carrie Nation was born Carrie Amelia Moore, her life was filled with tragedy. Her
mother died in an insane asylum, convinced she was Queen Victoria. Her first
husband drank himself to death. A second unhappy marriage would end in
divorce. She determined to give herself over to the struggle against what she
called the place where the serpent drink and crushed the hopes of my early
years, the saloon. As president of the Barber County WCTU, Carrie Nation had led
peaceful marches that had little effect and tried to find other peaceful ways to
convince the drinkers to stop consuming alcohol. Eventually she became
convinced God wished her to do more. She would eventually become notorious
for smashing saloons to pieces as an act of God, since god had prohibited the
hard liquor.
Block/Face 2 Wayne Wheeler
Wayne Wheeler was born in Brookfield Township, Ohio. He was a farm boy who
had lost an uncle to alcohol and had himself been injured by a drunken farmhand
wielding a pitchfork. He liked to say that God made the country, but man made
the town He was ideally suited to lead what became a crusade by rural
Americans against the big cities. He began his work for the dry on a bicycle,
spinning from door to door to defeat an anti-prohibition candidate for the state
senate. As the organization grew, Wheeler moved quickly up in ranks. He would
become the Leader of the Anti-Saloon League and would eventually lead the
United States into accepting the 18th Amendment.
Block/Face 3 Adolphus Busch
Adolphus Busch was an immigrant from the Rhineland, the youngest of 21
children, he entered the brewery supply business in St. Louis in 1857 went into
partnership with his father-in-law, Eberhard Anheuser, and soon became the first
brewer to succeed at bottling beer for shipment. His brewery on the St. Louis
riverfront sprawled across 70 acres. He owned railroads, ice factories and bottling
plants. Politicians sought his support, Presidents befriended him. As the AntiSaloon League steadily gained ground, other members of the brewers
Association looked to Adolphus Busch for leadership.
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