American Temperance Movement Essay

American Temperance Movement Essay

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The desire to control alcohol consumption, or advocate temperance, has been a goal of humanity throughout countless periods of history. Many countries have had organized temperance movements, including Australia, Canada, Britain, Denmark, Poland, and of course, the United States. The American temperance movement was the most widespread reform movement of the 19th century, culminating in laws that completely banned the sale of all alcoholic beverages. The movement progressed from its humble local roots to nationwide organizations with millions of members and large amounts of political power. The growth of the temperance movement resulted from the changes in society between the original American settlers and the post-Revolutionary War citizens. The Revolutionary War is the catalyst for the movement, and the new society that emerges out of it is the cause of the development of the American temperance movement.
If one was to look at colonial America with no knowledge of the future, the thought of millions of people promoting alcohol regulation and abstinence would be unimaginable. As hard as it is to assign general characteristics to colonial America, it is clearly evident that alcoholic beverages were extensive in consumption, to the point where they were among the main forms of liquid nourishment. It was so extensive that "Estimates for 1790, at the end of the colonial period, place per capita consumption of absolute alcohol (the alcohol content of alcoholic beverages) at three gallons, about one and a half times the amount of per capita consumption in the United States today. Despite staggering consumption rate, the relatively high level of per capita consumption failed to produce widespread concern about drinking.
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...e years between Colonial America and Post-Revolutionary United States changed American society greatly, especially in the attitude towards alcohol. The temperance movement took advantage of these changes, and spread throughout the states rapidly. The movement became one of the largest reform movements in history, changing the lives of millions of Americans and altering the course of American history from that point forward.

American Temperance Society. "Permanent Temperance Documents of the American Temperance Society". New York, Arno Press, 1972.
Blocker, Jack S. "American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform". Boston : Twayne Publishers, c1989
Ezell, Marcel D. "Early Attitudes toward Alcoholic Beverages in the South" Red River Valley Historical Review 7, 1982.
Nott, Eliphalet. "Lectures on Temperance". New York : Sheldon, Blakeman, 1857

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