The Temperance movement of the 1830's was, at its most basic, a precursor or warmup for the time of Prohibition in the early twentieth century. Initially started by fearful wives and children who were fed up with the abuse and neglect that frequent alcohol use brings to a household, the Temperance movement snowballed into an event that had global impacts. Places like Ireland, England, and Scotland held protests and passed legislatures in attempts to forbid the use, trade, and fermentation of hard spirits like whiskey or bourbon. The trouble of alcohol abuse was not the underlying, more important issue. Sure, it was a problem that needed to be dealt with, but the ban on spirits was a tool that paved the winding path to reach the final goal of moral reformation.  

Important facts about the Temperance Movement:

-Teetolism- radical anti-alcohol movement committed to ending the use of alcohol. Heavily advocated alcoholic abstinence, going as far as attempting to force the government to pass legislatures that significantly taxed the alcohol industry.

-It officially began in 1826 in the northeastern United States.

-Mainly focused on moral reform and the ban of liquor. Beer and wine were less emphatically opposed.

-American Temperance Society- one of the largest anti- alcohol fellowships, after twelve years boasted nearly 1,500,000 people.

- Caused by angry wives and children fed up with the consequences alcohol abuse by their husbands/ fathers imposed on domestic America.

- Temperance movement effectively halted all liquor, beer, and wine commerce in North America as well as in many European countries.

- The Temperance movement was the culmination of many past events. Spousal abuse, domestic neglect, and chronic unemployment combined together over the course of many years to explode into what is now known as the Temperance movement.

- Important people:

  -Benjamin Rush- judged chronic alcohol abuse to be serious health hazards to mind and body.

   - Lyman Beecher- minister who warned his listeners against the dangers of liquor.

   - Joseph Califano- founded the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Temperance movement

Anti- Alcohol Propaganda Poster- Primary Source

This is a political cartoon from the Temperance movement era. In plain sight are the offenses that are being blamed on alcohol. For instance, being the cause of both poverty and crime. The hard liquor costs an exorbitant amount of money which causes desperation when funds run out. An alcoholic may choose to turn to a life of crime to support his/her continuous drunken states mind. Other offenses like "robbing women and children" and "being against progress" are equally important to this cartoon: appealing to the sentimental side of the human personality. To a hard man poverty and crime could just be any other day, but to sketch the illusion of women and young children starving without hope because their breadwinner, their head of house decided to buy a bottle of whiskey is enough to soften any previously hard demeanor. Notice in the back the words "waste" and "ruin". The cartoon is drawn in such a way that the bottles of booze have the semblance of an army. From the tight, hard faces to the endless column of bottles, the message is clear: 1) the line of bottles never ends once the first one is picked up and 2) wherever the bottles go, waste and ruin follow shortly after to consume whatever life you started out with.


At the start of the American temperance movement, authorities were ordered to dispose of all alcohol by pouring the barrels full into the city's sewer

The Temperance Movement was largely lead by women and children in 1820's who were upset and fed up with the poor treatment that they were getting by their husbands and fathers that were committing alcohol abuse

The main point of the temperance moment was to keep the American population from falling into a state of decline due to the use of alcohol which was blamed could be blamed for all of the countries weakness. Hoping that through the temperance movement the stability of the nation and individual households could be upheld.

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