Gangsters Made Out Like Bandits During Prohibition
It all boiled down to supply and demand. Americans soon discovered illegal ways to drink their alcohol during Prohibition.A new breed of criminal arose during this period, "gangsters." These people were pretty smart and realized there was a high level of demand for alcohol and only a few ways to supply it to a thirsty nation. They smelled money and lots of it. One of the biggest gangsters of the time was Chicago's Al Capone.
Capone, and others like him, would smuggle in rum from the Caribbean, hijack whiskey in Canada and bring it across the border, or purchase liquor made in homemade stills.
To sell it, they opened up "speakeasies," or secret bars, for average citizens to stop by, drink up and socialize. As you might imagine, these were very popular places and business was really good.
Of course, there were Prohibition agents hired to raid these establishments, find the stills and arrest the gangsters. The problem was most of these agents were under-qualified, underpaid and easily bribed, by the gangsters, to look the other way.
Each of the gangs had their own territory to operate in and were not the least bit afraid to protect it, or try and expand it, by any means necessary, including bloodshed. As it turned out there was plenty of that.
With all these problems, the anti-Prohibition movement started to gain strength in the 1920s. Add in, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression, and people's opinion quickly changed. They needed jobs, and the government needed money. The natural fix would be, to make alcohol legal again, creating new jobs and additional sales tax for the government. Hey, it was a win-win for everyone.
On December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment, making alcohol legal once again. Marking the first and only time an Amendment to our Constitution was repealed.
Prohibition, or America's "Noble Experiment," had failed. "Happy Days Were Here Again!"