Temperance Movement. Temperance defined. The temperance movement was a widespread effort by many Americans during the 1800s and early 1900s to reduce the consumption of alcohol. . Alcohol banned.
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The temperance movement was a widespread effort by many Americans during the 1800s and early 1900s to reduce the consumption of alcohol.
Many in the movement wanted an outright ban on all alcoholic drinks, including beer, wine, and hard liquor. They saw alcohol as a source of social problems including violence, crime, and poverty.
What do you notice?
The political cartoon shown on the right is from a weekly magazine in 1874. It shows the view that most people in the movement had of bars, saloons, and taverns that served alcohol.
Did you notice….
… the bartender is the figure of Death. In a back room there is a drunken fight, with one man swinging a bottle. Just outside the door are two children, perhaps pleading for their father to come back home. The damage done to families by alcohol drinking was one of the main arguments used by leaders in the temperance movement.
Saloons were usually places for men only in the 1800s and early 1900s. They could be fancy places in big cities, or rickety wood frame buildings in a Western town. However the saloons looked, their customers considered them as a kind of men's social club where they were welcome and could relax with friends.
The temperance movement became very well organized by the late 1800s. It drew much of its energy from preachers like the one below, who has drawn a crowd in the street by speaking out against alcohol in front of a saloon.
By the 1890s the movement to ban or limit alcohol was holding national conventions of temperance leaders from all over the country.
This photo shows an 1892 national convention of temperance leaders.
This drawing is one of a sequence of prints put out by a temperance group.
It shows a family being ruined by the father's drinking.
In this scene, a drunk husband loses control of himself and hurts his wife.
While drawings like this were intentionally dramatic, it is certainly true that alcohol often created serious problems in many families.
In 1917, the U.S. Congress voted to propose an Amendment to the Constitution to ban the making, sale, or transportation of alcoholic beverages. The proposal was approved, and the 18th Amendment took effect in 1920.