Paper Assignment #1
February 14, 2011
A History of U.S. Drinking
Throughout history America has been very keen to alcoholic beverages. There were many factors that lead Americans to alcohol in the past relating to health and the availability of certain beverages. In the early 19th century, alcohol was consumed quite frequently by Americans. There was also a time where Americans significantly decreased the amount of alcohol they consumed. Americans started to realize the harmful effects of alcohol and temperance became more and more popular around the 1830's.
In the early 19th century Americans believed that drinking a good amount of alcohol every day was not an uncommon thing to do. Americans followed the beliefs of the British and the Europeans that rum, gin, and brandy had a nutritional value to them and were healthy. They also believed that distilled spirits could cure colds, fevers, snakebites, frosted toes, and broken legs, and as relaxants that would relieve depression, reduce tension, and enable workers to enjoy moments of good fellowship (Rorabaugh 1979, 25). They drank a plentiful amount of alcohol, being unaware of the unhealthy side effects of over indulging in alcohol. Americans started out drinking spirituous beverages such as rum soon developed a taste for whiskey as it was cheap and did not need to be imported. Americans found it normal to have a glass of whiskey even during breakfast and dinner. American food was very salty and greasy and they found it satisfying to have a drink of whiskey to wash it down. They were also drinking with the intention to become intoxicated quite frequently. It was considered an honor to be the first one done with dinner, in order to get to the bars for hours of drinking (Rorabaugh 1979, 118). Americans would even give their children alcohol very early in their lives so they would develop a tolerance for alcohol. Americans would even drink during work breaks and...