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Video:How Did Bootlegging Work During Prohibition?

with Mike Jordan

Prohibition laws could not stop the coordinated and illegal bootlegging businesses that kept alcohol flowing in America. Watch this About.com video to learn more about how bootlegging circumvented prohibition and led to organized crime families.See Transcript

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Transcript:How Did Bootlegging Work During Prohibition?

Hi, I am Mike Jordan and I am here for About.com. Today I am going to talk about how bootlegging worked during prohibition.

Prohibition was Enacted with the Constitution's 18th Amendment

After the Civil War, drinking was on the rise. Organizations known as Temperance movements attempted to dissuade people from drinking alcohol and preached that it was a leading cause of society’s problems.

By 1916, over half the U.S. states had statutes that prohibited alcohol. On January 16th, 1920 the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution went into effect. This prohibited the sale and manufacture of alcohol.

The passing of the 18th amendment was a victory for the temperance movement and an opportunity for those with looser morals, the Bootlegger.

Bootleggers Violated Prohibition Laws

The term "bootlegger" was first used in the 1880s as a nickname for someone who would conceal flasks of liquor in their boots. During prohibition, however, bootlegging was a business. This illegal business prospered as criminals supplied alcohol to a public unwilling to give up their drinking habits.

Whiskey, wine, and beer were smuggled into the U.S. across the Canadian and Mexican boarders. Ships laden with rum from the Caribbean waited just outside U.S. waters. Small boats met these rum ships to ferry liquor to U.S. shores. The men who did this job were called "rumrunners."  Others would buy large quantities of liquor made in homemade stills and supply secret bars called speakeasies throughout the land.

Bootlegging Led to Organized Crime

The coordination and manpower needed to transport and sell this illegal liquor led to America’s first organized crime syndicates, headed by such legendary figures as Al Capone and Arnold Rothstein.

Prohibition turned criminals into businessmen and law-abiding citizens into scofflaws. Bootlegging was a very profitable business up until 1933, when the 18th Amendment was repealed and the sale and manufacturing of liquor was once again legal.

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