To what extent was the impact of The Great Depression the main reason for the repeal of National Prohibition in 1933?

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Although both the coming and the arrival of the Great Depression did have some influence over the decision to repeal the Eighteenth Amendment, other factors played a part – most importantly the simple fact that prohibition didn’t work. In the early 1920s and throughout the 1930s America suffered through a period of economic decline, and because of this, the government in particular, was in need of funds to fuel its weakening economy. Taxation on alcohol would contribute towards the resources for relief, and prevent higher taxes in other areas of business which would only compound the situation. Each year the government was missing out on a sum of around $500 million which would be brought in by a tax on alcohol, and would significantly help America during the crisis. As well as this, an end to prohibition would eliminate the costs required to enforce it – an extra expenditure the government could not afford at this time. Economically, an end to prohibition would help strengthen the unstable situation in America: ending unproductive government spending as well as bringing new money into the system. Repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment would also meet social demands brought about by the crisis. Those facing hard times wanted to drink, and wanted an end to the law to allow them to do so more easily; thus the Great Depression added to the support for social groups already campaigning for its repeal. Both the economic and social effects of the Depression make it an important reason for the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, a concept supported by historian Joseph Gusfeld. However, this aspect, rather than directly causing the repeal of national prohibition, was the accelerating factor which catalysed the passing of the Twenty-first Amendment. Levine and Reinarmann conclude that rather than instigating it, “the Great Depression provided the necessary context for repeal”.
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