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Primary Source Analysis for Prohibition Topic

Autor:   •  April 6, 2014  •  Research Paper  •  1,200 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,065 Views

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The purpose of this paper is to identify and describe three primary sources that pertain to the topic of Prohibition. The Library of Congress website was used to locate these resources. Selected were a cartoon, a poster, and a picture taken from the Prohibition era. Each was reflective of the thought and actions that were emerging at that time.

Primary Source #1

The first primary source was a cartoon drawn by Clifford Berryman. The title is "Some medicine ball." The visuals seen within the cartoon are a medicine ball, the top of the Capitol building, a grass lawn, and four men. The only object within the cartoon that is labeled is the medicine ball; inscribed across the ball is "Prohibition Enforcement" (Berryman 1930).

This medicine ball is an important symbol. It represents at least two things. First, medicine balls are not easily thrown, and this is depicted by the perspiration on one of the gentlemen's forehead. Secondly, the throwing of a medicine ball represented a game that was a favorite of President Hoover. Each morning, the President, and several important members of the White House staff or President's cabinet, would play a strenuous game of throwing a 6-pound medicine ball over an 8 foot net. The game was nicknamed by some as "Hoover-Ball." The game was played on a grassy area. ((The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum). In addition, the Capital dome, which represents freedom and democracy, as well as the legislative branch of the country, is seen in the background.

As mentioned previously, one of the men was sweating profusely; this individual is currently in possession of the ball but his motions suggest that he is about to toss the ball forward to another man. This man appears very anxious. The other men in the background of the cartoon also appear to be nervous and their position in the background suggests they are more of support individuals behind the action. The words "Prohibition Enforcement" on the medicine ball are most significant as they represent the difficulties of accomplishing this undertaking.

The message of this cartoon displays just how demanding and exhausting it was to enforce the laws of Prohibition (Foner 2012, 625). The lack of manpower and the low wages earned by these agents were elements of disaster; the government enforcers could be simply bribed to look the other way (UMUC 2012). It was a laborious duty that was mandated by the passing of the 18th Amendment and upheld by the administration. The man currently holding the ball represents Andrew Mellon who was the Secretary of the Treasury and originally responsible for upholding the law. The individual about to receive the ball represents Attorney General William D. Mitchell. The cartoon was drawn in June 1930, and the transfer of power from one agency to the other was effective


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