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History Of Prohibition
  • MODERATION WAS THE NORM
  • SOCIAL CONTROLS WERE STRONG
  • CHANGE AND REVOLUTION CREATED PROBLEMS
  • BIRTH OF THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT
  • FROM TEMPERANCE TO TOTAL ABSTINENCE
  • PAVING THE ROAD TO UTOPIA
  • ESTABLISHMENT OF ALCOHOL EDUCATION
  • TEMPERANCE TEACHINGS
  • SCIENTIFIC TEMPERANCE INSTRUCTION CRITICIZED
  • THE LEGACY
  • THE NOBLE EXPERIMENT
  • PROHIBITION AND THE KKK
  • ANOTHER TRY FOR PROHIBITION
  • TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT BIDES ITS TIME
  • THE NEW TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT
  • SUMMARY
  • Appendix
  • History Of Prohibition

    SUMMARY

    Alcohol has been part of American life since the beginning of the colonies. European settlers viewed alcohol as the "good gift of God," to be used and enjoyed in moderation by young and old alike; however, its abuse was neither approved nor tolerated and was seen as being "from the Devil." Both formal and informal controls enforced moderation, which was the typical pattern of consumption.

    The Revolutionary War brought about dramatic social changes that reduced control over alcohol abuse. Drunkenness increased at the very time a changing and industrializing economy required a reliable work force. Simultaneously, many of the problems caused by industrialization, urbanization, and other changes were blamed on the new phenomenon of frequent intoxication.

    As a result, a movement then arose to encourage the moderate or temperate use of alcohol. But with the passage of time, most temperance groups began to insist that no one should be permitted to drink any alcohol. Temperance came to mean prohibition and the good gift of God came to be seen as the evil Demon Rum.

    After the Civil War (1861-1865), churches increasingly began to view prohibition as a religious issue and fought for it as a holy crusade against sin. Churches were joined in their crusade by numerous women's groups-alcohol was considered a defiler of women and destroyer of families and home life. The Women's Christian Temperance Union initiated a successful campaign to mandate legally the teaching of temperance (termed Scientific Temperance Instruction) throughout the entire public education system. After carefully examining the mandated curriculum, a prestigious body of scientists and educators concluded that Scientific Temperance Instruction was neither scientific, temperate, or instructive. In spite of these and many other objections, temperance instruction continued unabated and was later credited with contributing to the rise of national prohibition in 1920.

    The noble experiment of national prohibition began with the optimistic belief of temperance workers that it would bring about a dramatic reduction in the nation's poverty, crime, and other social problems. Unfortunately, it was not to be. To the contrary, prohibition brought about a dramatic increase in organized crime, the extensive consumption of dangerous bootleg alcohol, widespread corruption of public officials, general disrespect for law, and an increase in the rapid and excessive consumption alcohol beverages. Recognizing the disastrous problems caused by prohibition, the American people called for its repeal by a resounding three to one margin.

    But repeal did not eliminate support for prohibition. A substantial minority of the population maintained its strongly anti-alcohol sentiments and many tried to use World War II as an excuse to reimpose prohibition to whatever degree possible.

    While its goal was largely defeated, the temperance movement continued to exist and promote its cause. However, it was largely dormant for several decades. By 1980, temperance sentiment re-emerged in a new guise. Variously referred to as the new temperance, the neo-dry, the neo-prohibition, and similar terms, this most recent incarnation has modified its ideology and political strategy.

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