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Prohibition by the Numbers


After the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act in 1919, the making and selling of alcohol was illegal. This federal policeman uses a pickax to destroy a rum-runner's cargo in San Francisco during Prohibition.


Officers admire a cache of alcohol captured during a raid. At right are a pile of suitcases, presumably used to transport the contraband throughout Detroit.


New York society women enjoy their first legal drink after the repeal of the Volstead Act in 1933 (b/w photo) / Peter Newark American Pictures


PROHIBITION | Social movements spawned by the Progressive Era lead to the Volstead Act. Women saw alcohol as the eroding factor in the family unit. The amendment worked at first but enforcement proved difficult. Open rebellion became popular and gave rise to violence and organized crime. Gangsters like Al Capone rose up from prohibition by giving the people what they wanted: alcohol.


The Prohibition was started in 1920, and lasted until 1933. Because of the many bootleggers became popular. Also so did "speak easies" or hidden bars. Because of the Prohibition the mob started in America which consisted of smuggling alcohol. It slowly died away when it was started.


Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis (1907-1979) was given the nickname 'Creepy' due to his smug smile. He met Fred Barker in prison and they formed the Karpis-Barker gang in 1931. The FBI got on their case after they kidnapped a wealthy brewer and a Minnesota banker. Karpis was arrested in New Orleans in 1936. He was the last 'Public Enemy' to be arrested and served the longest time at Alcatraz: 26 years. Creepy!!


Letter concerning the transportation of liquor from California to Washington. Record Group 56 Records of the Department of Justice, Bureau of Prohibition National Archives and Records Administration ARC Identifier: 298430