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1920’s - the Best of Times, the Worst of Times

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Essay title: 1920’s - the Best of Times, the Worst of Times


“The best of times, the worst of times.”

The 1920’s was not a “roaring” time for immigrants and citizens of America. It harbored some of the harshest laws and brutal government restrictions. Immigrants were cast out by a post war country and alcohol banned in hopes of making our country purer. The 1920 was not the best of times.

The prohibition of alcohol in the United States lasted from 1920 until 1932. The movement began in the late nineteenth century, and was fueled by the formation of the Anti-Saloon League in 1893. This league and other anti-alcohol organizations began to succeed in establishing local prohibition laws. By the 1920's prohibition was a national effort. The prohibition movement was aimed primarily at closing saloons. Saloons were the brewing companies place in retail business, selling alcohol by the glass. In the early twentieth century, there was one saloon for every one-hundred fifty or two-hundred Americans. This competitiveness forced saloon keepers to find other ways to make money. By the 1920's saloons had become houses of gambling and prostitution, not the innocent, friendly bar we associate the word with today. The prohibition advocates found such establishments offensive, and sought to revoke their licenses. The prohibition did not stop the flow of alcohol; in the demand for smuggled alcohol organized crime was created. These criminals used some of the same weapons police did. Outlaws of that time like Al Pacino became huge celebrities.

Beginning in the early nineteenth century there were massive waves of immigration. Immigrants were mostly from Italy, Russia, and Ireland. There was a mixed reaction to these incoming foreigners. While they provided industries with a cheap source of labor, Americans were both afraid of, and hostile towards these new groups. They differed from the "typical American" in language, customs, and religion and took many jobs of Americans. Many individuals and industries alike played upon America's fears of immigration to further their own goals. The rise of Communism in Russia created a fear of its spread across Europe, and to America. The government denounced labor unions, the Socialist party, and the Communist party in America, as if America was being infiltrated with radicals who sought to overturn.

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