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Temperance. Alcohol is bad for your soul. The Temperance Movement. The Temperance Movement focused primarily around the eradication of alcohol and prostitution

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Alcohol is bad for your soul

The Temperance Movement

  • The Temperance Movement focused primarily around the eradication of alcohol and prostitution

  • The Second Great Awakening called for a more pure society and called for strong moral reform, thus people naturally saw alcohol and lust as agents of evil, so the temperance movement was born.

The “Problem”

  • Around 1830 the average American that was 13 or older consumed about 30 gallons of regular liquor and 9 gallons of hard liquor a year

  • Alcohol was common place. laborers often took part in a lively saloon which encouraged masculine comradery and alcohol consumption

  • On a regular basis before 1820 colleges would serve a pint of ale with every meal to students

  • The Elite would commonly have an “after-dinner whiskey or sherry”

Some information

  • Organized opposition to alcohol prominently surfaced in the 1810s

  • In 1826 a Connecticut minister named Lyman Beecher stated that alcohol paved the way to crime, poverty, family violence, and Idleness

  • Millions of Americans took a pledge of temperance, and many became involved in efforts to end prostitution

  • By 1833 the American Temperance Society boasted more than a million members, and at the time that was huge

Who were its leaders? What where its motivations?

  • The Second Great Awakening: As the second great awakening swept across the U.S., its Ideals of sobriety and hard work fueled the temperance movement. Alcohol was viewed as a vile substance that would convert ordinary men to a life of sin and apathy. Preachers composed a vast number of the leaders of the early movement.

*Artist’s rendition

Turning water into wine would have

been a handy prohibition era skill.

Who were its leaders? What where its motivations?

  • Women's rights activists: Many women became involved in the temperance movement often because of the problems alcohol caused in the household , particularly in the hands of abusive alcoholic husbands.

    Prominent example include:

    --Mary Hunt

    - - Carrie Nation (infamous for her use of a hatchet to smash barrels in saloons)--Lucy Webb Hayes--Susan B. Anthony--Frances Willard--Matilda Bradley Carse--Annie Wittenmyer

Who were its leaders? What where its motivations?

  • The temperance movement was often linked to hostile racial and religious undertones. Heavy alcohol use was associated with Catholics from Ireland and other parts of Europe. Many Early supporters did so in order to suppress these Immigrants.

  • Racial and religiously motivated groups associated with the movement include many religious organizations and preachers empowered by the second great awakening, but also includes several purely anti immigration groups such as the Klu Klux Klan.

Typical Irish catholic stereotype


  • Several Organizations formed under the Temperance Movement, two prominent ones include: The American Temperance Society, and the Cold Water Army.

  • The American Temperance Society was formed by Lyman Beecher (who was mentioned earlier), and had a general campaign and advocated to everyone.

  • The Cold Water Army was formed by Reverend Thomas Hunt, his campaign primarily focused on children and advocated abstinence. He figured that prevention was the best cure

How widespread was the temperance movement?

How widespread was the temperance movement?

  • Temperance ideas where not by any means confined to the untied states, many countries across the world adopted temperance policies throughout history, many clustered in the late 1800s as in the U.S.

  • Prominent examples include Australia, Canada, Ireland (I know, I was surprised too), New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Britain.

The temperance movement spread quickly across the nation following the second great awakening, soon gaining support nationwide. While some areas carried less prevalent views and tolerance, temperance became a nationwide phenomenon.

How widespread was the temperance movement?

The Effect

  • Made a sizable impact on alcohol consumption:

  • Consumption diminished to one quarter of the per capita consumption of 1830 (the ridiculously large amount)

  • Main became the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages.

Cold Water Army Pledge Coin

How effective was it at stemming alcohol use?

  • While initially Temperance policies managed to curb alcohol consumption it also exacerbated class conflicts as cheap liquor (ex. Whiskey) prevalent among the lower classes was primarily targeted, while alcoholic beverage consumed by the elites (ex. Wine) was left relatively unaffected.

The 99%

How effective was it at stemming alcohol use?

  • By the time temperance Ideas led to prohibition, many more serious problems began to occur. Because the consumption of alcohol was so deeply ingrained in our culture, prohibition did not stop alcohol consumption on any considerable scale, It merely forced the alcohol business underground. Cities filled with hidden saloons, many of which where tolerated by the police. Many enterprising individuals built home stills and brewed their own alcoholic beverages for sale on the black market and personal consumption.

Moonshine stills: the meth labs of the early 19th century

How effective was it at stemming alcohol use?

  • Soon as massive demand caused the price of alcohol to rise, organized crime overtook the role of distributing this valuable commodity. Alcohol smuggling and production became a violent and highly profitable enterprise, funneling massive amounts of cash into gangs and smugglers.




*artists rendition

How effective was it at stemming alcohol use?

  • Overall, rather than stemming alcohol use temperance/prohibition legislation merely created a highly lucrative and violent underground business empire.

BONUS PAGE: the evolution of gangs in America

1920s 1990s



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