Prohibition Popular at First
Prohibition in Arizona was popular at first. The state quickly ratified Prohibition on May 24, 1918. It was among the earlier states to do so. Arizonans had expected the Noble Experiment to improve health. To promote morality. And to reduce crime. They thought it would lower violence. It would protect young people. And would reduce domestic violence. But it did none of these things. To the conrtary, it created many serious problems.
Many Arizonans refused to give up their freedom to buy alcohol. The law was widely violated. The sheriff in one county reported that he had seized 152 stills. He had also arrested 183 people for breaking federal alcohol laws. And he had arrested 80 for doing the same for state laws. This was all within a three-month period in 1925.
Innocent people were often harmed by the illegal activities of moonshiners. For example, beekeepers often lost their hives. The honey was used in making illegal alcohol. This, in turn, harmed farmers. They needed the bees to pollinate their crops.
But there were much more serious problems caused by moonshine. The alcohol often had toxic lead. This was from using car radiators. So moonshine sometimes caused paralysis, blindness, and even death.
Moonshiners and bootleggers had to bribe police or sheriffs. That was in order to operate. The breakdown in morality led to disrespect for Prohibition.
It became fashionable to flaunt the law. Women, for the first time, widely became drinkers. And Prohibition led to a pattern of less frequent but much heavier drinking. That’s because it was not legal to buy alcohol. So people did so in speakeasies..
Needless to say, there was violence that went with organized crime. Yet Prohibition fed it.
People came to realize that Prohibition didn’t improve health. It threatened it. Didn’t promote morality. It eroded it. Didn’t reduce crime. It created it. Didn’t lower violence. It raised it. And it didn’t protect young people. It endangered them.
Prohibition in Arizona was a disaster. Arizonans had suffered enough. Over three-quarters voted to repeal Prohibition.
Prohibition in Arizona
- Monson, A. There’s No Tellin’: the Temperance Movement in Phoenix, Arizona, 1884-1935. AZ State U.
- Ware, H. Alcohol, Temperance and Prohibition in Arizona. AZ State U.