Prohibition and the American Gangster

Prohibition and the American Gangster
Presentation Notes


Prohibition was meant to be America's return to fundamentalism.   The great American values of hardwork and sobriety were the goal of “The Noble Experiment”.   The results, however, were not exactly what Temperance leaders had hoped for.  

Who hasn't heard the names Al Capone or   Lucky Luciano?   These individuals were literally created by   the 18th Amendment.   When lawmakers made the decision to ban alcohol, in all it's forms, for public consumption, a dual society was created.   This society provided that citizens, who ordinarily would be within the confines of the law, could break the law in a big way and it was accepted by society in general.   However, these citizens would need help from the criminal element to do so.   A judge could spend the evening drinking and listening to jazz, and in the morning put on his judicial robes without any ill effects.

The demand for alcohol created a big time business for the criminal underworld.   “Speak easies” or underground bars were considered glamorous establishments that provided society with the alcohol it craved while at the same time provided an exciting brush with those thrilling individuals who walked on the other side of the law as a matter of course.   The production, distribution, and smuggling of alcohol was an elaborate and lucrative business.   It provided mass amounts of money which fueled the image of the American Gangster as a strong armed type business man.

“The American Gangster” was an individual of style and darkness, in the public's eye. Hollywood, still in it's infant stages at that time, kept a particularly   accurate record of the gangsters due to their being bedfellows with the criminal element, so to speak.   Alcohol was the lubricant which permitted this association to run so smoothly.   Their modes of speech, dress, and big lifestyles were legendary and envied by a populous that flocked to movie theaters to catch a...