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A Toast to the Constitution: The Eighteenth Amendment and Prohibition

Introduction:

The Progressive Era in the United States was a time of great change for American politics, culture, and social life. How did the fabric of society at the time lead to the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment? Students will better understand the relationship between social movements and politics by analyzing one of the most impactful constitutional amendments, and its end results.

Handouts:

Handout A: Amendment XVIII of the Constitution

Handout B: Prohibition (External Link)

Handout C: The Nation’s Foe (External Link)

Handout D: Woman’s Holy War Political Cartoon (External Link)

Handout E: The Unhappy Couple Political Cartoon (External Link)

Handout F: Who Are the Real Supporters of Prohibition? (External Link)

Handout G: Graphic Organizer

Directions:

Have students read Handout A: Amendment XVIII of the Constitution and Handout B: Was Prohibition a Success or a Failure? to develop a background on Prohibition. Then have them answer the comprehension questions below.

Next, have students fill out Handout F: Graphic Organizer on their own as they view Handouts C-F. After they complete the organizer, have them answer the questions below.

Comprehension Questions:

  1. What was the early history of the temperance movement?
  2. What vices did supporters of the temperance movement argue alcohol caused?
  3. What year did the Eighteenth Amendment go into effect? How was it repealed, and in what year?
  4. What vices did opponents of the temperance movement argue Prohibition caused?

Analysis Questions:

  1. Which side of the Prohibition debate do you think made a better argument? Why?
  2. Do you think the federal government should be involved in legislating on moral questions and public health issues? What do you think are some benefits and drawbacks of it doing so?
  3. Some compare Prohibition’s ban on alcohol sales and production to current laws against the possession of marijuana. Do you think this is a valid comparison? Why or why not?