1920s boom time high School Instructional Performance Task Module



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The Noble Experiment

When the Prohibition era in the United States began on January 19, 1920, a few sage observers predicted it would not go well. Certainly, previous attempts to outlaw the use of alcohol in American history had fared poorly. When a Massachusetts town banned the sale of alcohol in 1844, an enterprising tavern owner took to charging patrons for the price of seeing a striped pig—the drinks came free with the price of admission. When Maine passed a strict prohibition law in 1851, the result was not temperance, but resentment among the city's working class and Irish immigrant population. A deadly riot in Portland in 1855 lead to the law's repeal. Now, Prohibition was being implemented on a national scale, and being enshrined in the Constitution no less. What followed was a litany of unintended consequences.

This should have come as no surprise with a venture as experimental as Prohibition. It is no mistake that President Herbert Hoover's 1928 description of Prohibition as "a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far-reaching in purpose" entered the popular lexicon as "the noble experiment." It was unfortunate for the entire nation that the experiment failed as miserably as it did.




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