Prohibition

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PBS (Mini-Series 2011)

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  • A Nation of Hypocrites

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 3 - 10/4/11

    Support for Prohibition diminishes in the mid-1920s as the playfulness of sneaking around for a drink gives way to disenchantment with its glaring unintended consequences. By criminalizing one of the nation's largest industries, the law has given savvy gangsters a way to make huge profits, and as they grow in power, rival outfits wreak havoc in cities across the country. The burgeoning tabloid newspaper industry fans the frenzy with sensational headlines and front-page photographs of murder scenes, while Al Capone holds press conferences and signs autographs. The wealthy Pauline Sabin begins publicly decrying that Prohibition has divided the nation into "wets, drys, and hypocrites." Nearly a century before, women had hoped Prohibition would make the country a safer place for their children. But by the late 1920s many American women believe that the "Noble Experiment" has failed. Sabin unifies women of all classes, refuting the notion that all women support Prohibition and denouncing the law itself as the greatest threat to their families. Sabin and others argue that repeal will bring in tax revenue and provide desperately needed jobs. After the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, Congress easily passes the 21st Amendment, which repeals the 18th, and the states quickly ratify it. In December of 1933, Americans can legally buy a drink for the first time in 13 years.

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  • A Nation of Scofflaws

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 10/3/11

    Ken Burns continues his documentary on Prohibition by covering the failure of the Volsted Act to prevent the distribution or consumption of alcohol.

  • A Nation of Drunkards

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 10/2/11

    A Nation of Drunkards is part one of the 3-series documentary, Prohibition. It shows how Americans in 19th century consumes three times more alcohol than today, believing that alcohol is safer to drink than water. It tells how every American from the clergyman, craftsman, and canal-diggers drink alcohol until the temperance movement came and marked the prohibition era in the early 20th century, saying that alcohol is against the Protestant's clean and righteous living, and banned the sale and manufacture of alcohol.

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