The temperance movement had long been strong in the state. People expected that prohibiting alcohol would lead to improved health. To lower crime. And to decreased violence. That it would cause higher morality. Stronger families. More prosperity. And a better future for young people.
Prohibition in Kentucky
But many residents weren’t going to let their freedom to drink be denied. Prohibition failed to deliver its promises. In fact, it made things much worse.
Terrain and rural nature combined to make the state an ideal place to make moonshine. Bootleggers could easily make a lot of untaxed money quickly. They would bribe police, sheriffs and Probation Bureau officers. That was simply a cost of doing business.
Widespread corruption lowered respect for Prohibition. It caused a decline in public morality. In turn, that caused a deep lack of respect for law. It became the fashion to flaunt law. This was clear among young people.
Prohibition also led to a bad pattern drinking. It was not hrequent but very heavy drinking. People didn’t go to a speakeasy to have a beer. They went to get drunk.
Moonshiners carelessly made their products. So it often had lead toxins. So customers sometimes were paralyzed. Were blindned. Or even died.
This led some drinkers to switch to hair tonic, sterno or drugs. Prohibition caused these actions.
Prohibition also denied the state tax revenues from alcohol. This was at the very time it was causing increases in crime. This led to steeply higher criminal justice costs. That burdened tax-payers.
Widespread crime and other problems caused by Prohibition in Kentucky and elsewhere. These became very obvious. More and more residents decided that the hoped cure was much worse than the disease.
So over 80 percent of voters in the state called for Repeal.
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- Black, F. Ill-starred Prohib Cases.
- Coker, J. Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause.
- Ellison, B. 200 Years of KY Moonshine.
- Leonard, E. and Hammer, M. The Moonshine War.
- Stewart, B. Moonshiners and Prohib.
- Yater, G. Flappers, Prohib, and all that Jazz. Louisville Remembers the Twenties.