American Culture and Drug Use: 1800-1850

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Between 1800 and 1850, the global map was changing and it was no different on the North American Continent. As a young nation, only 25 years into its existence, America struggled with a multitude of issues including slavery, migration, immigration, and substance abuse to name a few. America was being tested externally by global super powers while it was being ripped by its seams from within through the on-going scourge of slavery and the social dysfunction caused by the proliferation of drugs and alcohol. From the prevalence of marijuana in early America to the use of southern tobacco, to the abundance of alcoholic beverages on the heavily populated eastern seaboard to the opium dens of the gold rush west, drugs and alcohol have had significant roles in America’s history since its inception. In pre-Civil War America, drug and substance use including opium, tobacco, and alcohol were at all-time highs (Brown, 1981). Social movements, societal beliefs, limited legislative action, and a lack of medical oversight between 1800 and 1850 would all play a part in how Americans viewed the existence and use of intoxicating substances. The early to mid-nineteenth century in America held promise for the young burgeoning nation. Dealing with the growing pains that every new country faces, America would expand its land territory, enter into another war with England, struggle with slavery, and move westward into California and the Northwest Territory. In 1800, America was just 25 years old, an infant in a world made up of mature governments and countries such as England, France, and Spain. Although the Capitol had just been moved from one city center of Philadelphia to another in Washington D.C., America was mostly rural and full of farm... ... middle of paper ... ...pmc/articles/PMC2552718/ Newton, D. E. (2010). Substance Abuse: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC- CLIO Sheldon, J. (n.d.). Historical aspects of alcohol and other drug use. Retrieved from Sutton, B., Goodwin, S., Bradley, B., Welling, S., & Whitley, P. (2008). 19th Century: 1800- 1809. American cultural history. Lone Star College-Kingwood Library, Kingwood, TX. Retrieved from Taylor, Q. (n.d.). United States history timeline: 1800-1900 Retrieved from United States Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Significant dates in U.S. food and drug law history. Retrieved from

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