American Temperance Movement

1768 words 8 pages
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 …show more content…
People began organizing lectures and speeches to inform people of the harmful effects of spirits, and tried to promote controlled drinking. One of the most influential speakers against intemperance during this time was Eliphalet Nott, whose sermons were later published in the book Lectures on Temperance. Nott used a variety of arguments to promote his ideas, and his influence spread quickly. He argued that alcohol is a waste of money and is costing the country millions. Britain, he said, pays two hundred millions dollars per year just for the articles to hold alcoholic beverages, and loses another two hundred million dollars in fired and wrecks caused by drunkenness (Nott 26-27). He stated "that pure alcohol is poison; that every beverage containing alcohol contains an element of poison and that other elements of poison are often, if not usually, contained in intoxicated liquors, are known and admitted facts" (Nott 8). He did, however, make a distinction between distilled spirits and fermented beverages, not to offend readers of the Bible (Nott 51). Lecturers like Nott promoted the temperance movement throughout the early 1800s, and led to organized groups of like-minded reformers. The first temperance societies were organized in New York and Massachusetts, between 1803 and 1813. In 1813, the Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of

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