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The Maltese Falcon Historical Context

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Historical Context

Prohibition and Gangsters

Sale of alcohol had been illegal in the United States since 1920, when the 18th Amendment was ratified and signed into law. Congress passed the National Prohibition act, also referred to as the Volstead Act, to provide law enforcement agencies with the means to enforce the ban. While the intent of the amendment was to hinder the use and abuse of alcohol, it ended up having the unintended effect of creating a profitable industry for criminals to rise to power.

As federal agents struggled to control the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol, those who were willing to take chances and oppose the law saw great profits. As a result, criminals found it in their best interests to organize their distribution networks to regional chains. Although illegal, liquor became easily available, most notably in "speakeasies," which were underground nightclubs. Profits were high enough to absorb the...

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This section contains 546 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Maltese Falcon Study Guide
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The Maltese Falcon from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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