Crusaders Gangsters and Whiskey - Prohibition in Memphis
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Prohibition, with all its crime, corruption, and cultural upheaval, ran its course after thirteen years in most of the rest of the country—but not in Memphis, where it lasted thirty years. Patrick O’Daniel takes a fresh look at those responsible for the rise and fall of Prohibition, its effect on Memphis, and the impact events in the city made on the rest of the state and country. Prohibition remains perhaps the most important issue to affect Memphis after the Civil War. It affected politics, religion, crime, the economy, and health, along with race and class. In Memphis, bootlegging bore a particular character shaped by its urban environment and the rural background of the city’s inhabitants. Religious fundamentalists and the Ku Klux Klan supported Prohibition, while the rebellious youth of the Jazz Age fought against it. Poor and working-class people took the brunt of Prohibition, while the wealthy skirted the law. Like the War on Drugs today, African Americans, immigrants, and poor whites made easy targets for law enforcement due to their lack of resources and effective legal counsel. Based on news reports and documents, O’Daniel’s lively account distills long-forgotten gangsters, criminal organizations, and crusaders whose actions shaped the character of Memphis well into the twentieth century.