The Roaring Twenties, also known as the Jazz age. The Roaring Twenties, also known as the Jazz age, was a period of economic prosperity, thanks to the increase in industries which resulted in massive production and a complete change on the economy; people could afford buying products that in the past would have been impossible and so, started buying and investing in the stock market without thinking, which lead to the Crush of the Stock-Market on 1929. This period suffered a plethora of changes on culture; the Jazz Age resulted in the creation of Jazz as well as the popularity of new ballroom dances related to this new musical genre, new writers became popular like Ernest Hemingway, new musicians (Cole Porter) as well as new sports like Golf and Baseball. In relation to society, women took many steps towards genre equality, with important events like The Women´s Suffrage in 1920 winning the right to vote, as well as the creation of a new model of women. The Flapper, a women with bobbed hair wearing skirt and free to smoke, drink alcohol and say things that were considered not appropriate for women. In addition, politics also changed, creating ’The Prohibition’ in 1920, a law that intended to decrease vandalism and alcohol consumption by prohibiting the commerce, production and intake of alcohol. Far from cutting back on alcoholism, this prohibition resulted in an increase of its consumption, due to different factors.
First of all, this prohibition leads to a great part of the population to become alcoholic as well as the apparition of a lot of health problems. To explain this first we have to settle this prohibition in his historical context. People during the Roaring Twenties were completely carefree and insatiable, buying and investing all what they could, this attitude lead to a constant creation of parties. In these parties alcohol consumption took place in great quantities; thanks to speakeasies (illegal private clubs or liquor shops in which alcohol was distributed, under the alibi of simple businesses where only rich or important people could enter to buy this alcohol or consume it). Thanks to this massive distribution of illegal alcohol, people became more alcoholic than ever, in every party people were completely drunk. Moreover, alcohol was of a very bad quality with products like, bathtub gin and farm whiskey (containing substances now used for perfumes, camping fuels and ink), increasing health problems in a high percent of the population as well as decreasing the price of alcohol. Thus, people ended up going to psychologists or making therapies to avoid alcohol consumption.
Secondly, ‘The Prohibition’ not only increased alcoholism but also corruption, vandalism and organized crime. Since alcohol distribution was illegal, a lot of people started to make plans in order to sell it; how to produce this alcohol (illegal distilleries), how to transport it (cars with fake boots), to sell it (speakeasies), how to hide it from the police. In this way, organized crime started to dominate emerging a lot of new rich people thanks to this illegal commerce, appearing the figures of the bootleggers and the gangsters (illegal traffickers of alcohol and organized crime leaders, normally part of a mafia that acquired an enormous quantity of money). However, being hidden from the police was not always possible, so in result gangsters and bootleggers started paying the police, as well as important members of the judicial system having complete immunity from law as well as becoming untouchable.
Last but not least, the frequency in this illegal parties in which alcohol were consumed lead to a normalization of these out of law situations. In most cases, people overlooked what they were doing; if they were in a party with alcohol they were not thinking on who had bought the liquor or where, in other words they were so accustomed to assisting illegal parties that they acted like that was normal. This normalization of illegal activities, catch up the interest of many people that started to gain enormous amounts of money by bootlegging. In resume, if there was a person that became very rich with almost no motive, he was most likely to be a bootlegger.
To conclude, with this essay I have summarize the general situation during the prohibition and explained why this new law became counter-productive. This because of the creation of illegal distilleries and speakeasies were alcohol were consumed and sold, as well as the appearance of gangsters and bootleggers which made easier this illegal traffic, as well as paying for immunity from judicial reprisals and the normalization of organized crime, clandestine parties and out of law activities. In my opinion, it is very interesting to see how the population reacted to this prohibition making normal citizens to make whatever is possible for drinking some type of alcohol and changing completely the society into a chaos of crime, corruption and vandalism. In this way, it is clear that ‘The Prohibition’ turned out having a counter-effect on society as I already stated.
- History.com Editors. (2010, April 14). The Roaring Twenties History. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.history.com/topics/roaring-twenties/roaring-twenties-history
- US History II. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.cliffsnotes.com/study-guides/history/us-history-ii/america-in-the-twenties/a-new-society-economic–social-change
- Redacción. (2019, November 29). La ley seca: El despegue de las mafias en EE.UU. Retrieved November 15, 2020, from https://www.lavanguardia.com/historiayvida/historia-contemporanea/20181127/47313667204/el-despegue-de-las-mafias-en-eeuu.html