Prohibition from the Mouths of Those Who Were There
The most trying times can bring out the best in people, or the worst in people. Sometimes though, it brings out clever things to say.
Prohibition is definitely one of those times. The people who needed a drink had it bad. The people tasked with stopping them from having a drink had it bad. The people bootlegging the illegal liquor had it bad, but at least they had fat wallets to kind of make things better.
Cities and states that relied on liquor tax revenue had it real bad. Even the weirdos who wanted booze outlawed had it bad, because everyone was drinking more than ever.
Needless to say, everyone caught up in the mess that was prohibition had something to say about it. Here are some of the best lines.
“Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” W.C. Fields
“Prohibition makes you want to cry into your beer and denies you the beer to cry into.” Don Marquis
“Prohibition has made nothing but trouble.” Al Capone
"Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose." President Herbert Hoover
"The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this." Albert Einstein
“The prohibition law, written for wealkings and derelicts, has divided the nation, like Gaul, into three parts – wets, drys, and hypocrites.” Florence Sabin
“I am like any other man. All I do is supply a demand.” Al Capone
“The attempt to make the consumption of beer criminal is as silly and as futile as if you passed a law to send a man to jail for eating cucumber salad.” Stephen Leacock
“Doubts raced through my mind as I considered the feasibility of enforcing a law which the majority of honest citizens didn't seem to want.” Elliot Ness
“Instead of giving money to found colleges to promote learning, why don't they pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting anybody from learning anything? If it works as good as the Prohibition one did, why, in five years we would have the smartest race of people on earth.” Will Rogers
Reading these musings, I see a lot of truth in humor and a ton of lies in the sincerity. Prohibition didn’t work then, has never worked before, and will never work in the future—in case some moralist idiot gets the idea to try it again.
It’s funny and sad, at the same time, to think about all the crazy stuff people did to get their drink on, and all the people who got killed getting it to them. It was a huge waste of money and life on both sides. And you know what all this prohibition talk makes me want to do? Go have a drink.