Growing out of this moral suasion was political action regarding Temperance. Numerous fraternal orders of temperance were formed. Some of them were local in nature, but a few grew into national stature. One of these, The Good Templars, called a conference in 1869 that resulted in the formation of the Prohibition Party. The first experiments with Prohibition were short lived, but the movement was growing. The WCTU, the Anti-Salloon League, The Prohibition Party and others were getting the movement for prohibition in motion that resulted in the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920. Nor was the U.S. the only country that had prohibition. Canada tried it, Russia and Finland tried it during 1915-16.
There were many reasons for the failure of the Prohibition law. One of these was the legal aspect that one of the parties to the sale of alcohol was blameless. The main reason for its failure was that although there was enough popular support for prohibition to secure its approval, there was not enough support to secure its enforcement. This sort lesson is not the time to study the reasons for the failure of prohibition. There was one bad result of this failure, and that was that in the fight to get prohibition, the meaning of intemperance was forgotten. When prohibition ended, there was no organization or movement encouraging temperance, and during prohibition the drinking habits of the population had changed, and the automobile had come of age. While some areas still have the problem of prohibition through local option, all areas still have the problem of intemperance.
What are the psychological effects of drinking? A number of studies have been made about this, but they are in the main inconclusive. It appears that the effects of alcohol pass with the no damage except from irritation. On the other hand, cirrhosis of the liver occurs more often in heavy drinkers. Heavy drinkers definitely have a shorter life than moderate drinkers, but there are no figures on moderate and non-drinkers. The worst damage probably comes from malnutrition.
What effect does education have on this? People have a tendency to reject the whole when they doubt a part. Therefore, young people in particular, having been told of the bad effects of drinking, but having seen their elders drink for years, reject abstinence or temperance all together. Dr. Haggard at yale University said that the physiological injuries resulting from the use of alcohol are largely misleading and that the dangers are not so much bodily as sociological. The early temperance worker could easily see the results of intemperance in the form of the physical infirmities and dramatized them in the teaching against drinking. Education through emphasis on the physical deterioration has largely failed.