Audioburst Search

Kingpins Daily: Eliot Ness

|

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Times but in his nineteen fifty. Seven book the untouchables. Ness reveals a more vulnerable side of himself. One that suggests that even the most by the book offices questioned the very rules they enforce. He wrote doubts race through my mind as I consider the feasibility of enforcing which the majority of honest citizens didn't seem to want the law of at Ness was referring to was the eighteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. I ratified in January. Nineteen nineteen it banned the manufacture sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors and incited the prohibition era for those unfamiliar. It's important to note that Americans didn't just wake up with a hangover and empty liquor cabinets. They had the opportunity to prepare for prohibition and prepare they did many acted like Frat boys before a big snowstorm. They hoarded alcohol. And why shouldn't they? There was absolutely no promise that the storm of prohibition was going to pass any time soon. In fact they were politicians. Like Senator Morris Sheppard of Texas essentially telling people the pigs would fly before it ended. Needless to say there were stockpiles of liquor everywhere and by everywhere we mean in the cellars of those who could afford it. How were they able to purchase these now? Illicit goods simple the eighteenth amendment was poorly written as we said it banned quote the manufacture sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors. It failed to mention whether alcohol was illegal to consume and it didn't define what in the good hell intoxicating meant so without parameters to enforce any law. Authorities like Eliot Ness. We're left twiddling their thumbs. Enter the VOL- Stead Act in nineteen twenty it defined intoxicating liquors any substance containing point five percent alcohol or more for perspective. That's one tenth. The average can of beer of course higher proof substances could still be manufactured and sold for practical applications like medicine cleaning and religious sacraments e there were loopholes and whether loopholes there are people abusing said loopholes for profit. Which is exactly what happened. The reason prohibition caused mind speakeasy as Pianos flappers and booze is because alcohol didn't go anywhere. In fact during prohibition consumption increased by an estimated sixty to seventy percent it just moved from the free market to the black market from being a stable of the American home to being. Contraband as it did. The line between crime and leisure became incredibly blurred which led to some very lucrative and suddenly criminal enterprises. Elliott's ness the man in charge of enforcing prohibition laws in all this mess in Chicago. No less the home of notorious mob. Boston bootlegger Al Capone Aka scarface. Ness worked for the Prohibition Bureau from Nineteen Twenty Six all the way to the end of prohibition in Nineteen Thirty Three. In that time he was surrounded. By other prohibition who were accepting bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye to these illegal operations. Everyone was getting rich and they use this new ethical gray scale to justify their actions. It was after all just alcohol. Who is it hurting? Really like said the majority of honest citizens didn't even want the law ness wasn't the delusion that any person who chose to imbibe where criminals but at the same time there were men like Al Capone men who were undoubtedly criminals and from between those two extremes sprung doubt and the fact. That ness had doubts is important. It's a shame that history frequently ignores that chapter of his story too often. He's relegated to a trope. The unflinching leader of the untouchables. A team of agents that upheld the law at all costs but the truth is much more complicated than that. What misunderstood was the good and bad can exist on both sides of the law. Yes Eliot Ness would one day help take down. Al Capone a man responsible for the deaths of many innocent lives. But prohibition had more victims than those men victims whose stories are often forgotten the poor the ones that we're most held accountable by the laws of prohibition simply because

Coming up next