The reliability of a source is important to historians and so in order to make a valid point using sources the reliability must be tested. For this reason, I will be looking at the reliability of both sources and by analyzing both I will determine which source is more reliable. Source E is in the form of a letter written in 1932 by John D Rockerfeller Jr. who was from a very recognizable and highly respected wealthy family in America at the time.
They had one of the most powerful influences on the United States and had a personal wealth exceeding a cool $1 billion and the person who had the greatest share of this was John D Rockerfeller Jr. and thus making him a very influential business man in America. Due to the high standards and the highly respected status of John D Rockerfeller, source E can be said to be very reliable. He has nothing to gain by writing this source as truthfully as he can however by writing false information he could have lost everything.
This source is actually a letter written by Rockerfeller in 1932 before the abolishment of prohibition (due to the small volumes being allowed to be produced legally). This source was also written in during the era of prohibition which meant that John D Rockerfeller had actually seen what had been happening because of prohibition at the time and hence it also made him a witness of the effects. The fact that it was written during the time also meant that the writer had a complete understanding of what was happening in the world around him.
Also, the fact that source E is a letter and not something that will be made public, or was something to be made public, makes it more reliable because the writer was not trying to convince anyone and it was his own understanding of the situation and it’s his account, his experience and his beliefs of what was happening. The Source can also said to be strongly reliable because it agrees with other sources for example source A ; B. The messages that are expressed by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti- saloon league all strongly agree with the source.
One of the great evils of the time – alcoholism’… ‘The Women’s Christian Temperance Union had joined in a crusade… ‘ states source B which agrees perfectly with what Rockerfeller was bringing out in his letter. ‘The day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol… ‘He also believed that alcohol was a vile thing and caused corruption like the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. There are some aspects of the source which make it a lot less reliable. The fact that it is one persons account makes us question its reliability.
Rockerfeller may be exaggerating the failure little especially since he was a huge supporter of Prohibition. This source could in fact be the view of a very narrow group of American Philanthropists where as on the other hand the general public may have had a very different view. Also, the source shows no references to actual facts and shows no figures which weakens Rockerfellers argument because it then shows that his points are more of his opinion and he doesn’t specify and go into detail. He only generalises each point.
Other sources like source G & H use facts and figures and so there reliability is valued more. In a similar way, source F was also written by a very influential person in society. The author of this source is by John F Kramer and although his name wasn’t as highly recognised as John D Rockerfeller, his job was still closely associated with prohibition thus making the source quite reliable. The fact that Kramer was the First prohibition meant that he had a huge amount of insight within the subject and could express his views fully.
His reliability could therefore be said to be the same as John D Rockerfeller. His opinions also agree with that of the Anti- saloon league and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union like Rockerfellers does. ‘Liquor must not be manufactured… ‘ shows that his views agree with that of the Anti- Saloon league, ‘Grain should be preserved… ‘. His arguments also agree with that of Rockerfellers, he is also against prohibition. His will make sure that alcohol will not be manufactured ‘We shall see that it is not… or sold, nor given away’ over here he could be saying that even if alcohol is given away, just because its not taking away money from people, it is still wrong and so none of it will be tolerated. However, this is where the similarities end and the reliability of the source begins to decline. Source F was a speech given in 1920. Not only does this mean that it was meant for people to be heard it also means that it was written at the beginning or the prohibition era. Unlike Rockerfellers letter, this was a prediction of what will happen.
He believed he could make it work, unlike Rockerfeller, he did not know the outcome of Prohibition like gangsters etc. Secondly, this source can also be seen to be highly bias, thus making it unreliable. It was a speech, meant to be heard and so bias views would be expected in order to convince people to support it prohibition. It is designed to persuade people and make the do what you want and so the source is can be said to not be very reliable at all. In conclusion, I find that source E is more reliable then F.
It was written towards the end of the prohibition era and was not designed to persuade anyone unlike source F. The writer was given the advantage of seeing what was happening during the era and so his argument to me is more reliable and valuable. Source F can only be used to explain how and why prohibition came about and what affected the public’s attitude. Source F can show that prohibition was started and the law makers had innocent intentions however source F shows haw badly it failed because it discusses everything that happened during the era and not what was believed to happen.