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It is indisputable that "By the time of her death in 1906, Mary Hunt had shaken and changed the world of education" (Ohies, 1978, p. 478) with her campaign for coercive temperance education (or "institutionalized prohibitionist propaganda" [Clark, 1965, p. 35]). In 1901-1902, 22 million school children were exposed to anti-alcohol education (Hunt, 1904, p. 23). 6 "The WCTU was perhaps the most influential lobby ever to shape what was taught in public schools. Though it was a voluntary association, it acquired quasi-public power as a censor of textbooks, a trainer of teachers, and arbiter of morality" (Tyack and James, 1985, p. 519).
Temperance writers viewed the WCTU's program of compulsory temperance education as a major factor leading to the Eighteenth Amendment (Cherrington, 1920, p. 175; Colvin, 1926, pp. 178-179). Other knowledgeable observers agreed. For example, the U. S. Commissioner of Education asserted in 1920 that:
In the creation of a sentiment which has resulted first in local option, then in state prohibition, and now in national prohibition, the schools of the country have played a very important part, in fact probably a major part.... The instruction in physiology and hygiene with special reference to the effects of alcohol... has resulted first in clearer thinking, and second in better and stronger sentiment in regard to the sale and use of alcoholic drinks. (Timberlake, 1963, p. 46)
A study of legislative control of curriculum in 1925 indicated that teaching about temperance "is our nearest approach to a national subject of instruction; it might be called our one minimum essential" (Tyack and James, 1985, p. 516; also see Flanders, 1925). The WCTU held a virtual monopoly over the selection of textbooks until the 1940s, when it began to experience competition from the Yale Center of Alcohol Studies (Mezvinsky, 1961, pp. 48-56). Writing in 1961, Mezvinsky (p. 54) reported that "some alcoholic physiology and hygiene textbooks still stress total abstinence.... Some schools still stage [temperance] assemblies and meetings each year and hold WCTU essay and oratorical contests." So-called Scientific Temperance Instruction "laid the groundwork for the formal drug education programs that remain high on the agendas of today" (Erickson, 1988, p. 333), and some of the laws Mrs. Hunt had passed still remain (Garcia-McDonnell, 1993, p. 13).
It can also be argued that compulsory Scientific Temperance Instruction failed to achieve its major objective of bringing about complete abstinence. Annual consumption of alcohol beverages increased between 1880 and 1920. That is, it increased between the beginning of the movement and the beginning of national prohibition. Additionally, the difficulty of enforcing prohibition and its ultimate failure indicates that the instruction had not convinced enough young people to abstain (and to support prohibition) when they became adults (Mezvinsky, 1961, p.54). 13
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