The Temperance Movement

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The Temperance Movement: The Attempted Removal of a Deadly Sin

The Temperance Movement was an attempt to better society by ending the sale and consumption of alcohol. This movement began in the 1830’s to the 1840’s from the desire to reform society and abolishing it’s sins by the removal of slavery. Many people saw the negative effect that alcohol also had on society, and so they put forth an effort to convince others to refrain. The fight for prohibition originated from the church. The Protestant religion enforced abstinence from alcohol and others followed, thinking that preventing the sin would help to reform society (“Roots of Prohibition”). Key leaders in the movement guided people towards their cause, such as Billy J. Clark who saw the chaotic effect that drinking had on society. He observed how dependent society was as it revolved around alcohol (“Billy J. Clark”). He worked to lead others away from the tempting drink and in 1808, he helped to form the first ever temperance society, the Union Temperate Society of Moreau and Northumberland (“History of the World’s Temperance Centennial Congress”). Although many efforts were introduced in order to enforce prohibition, the dependency of Americans on alcohol and their lack of fervor in the cause made it impossible to reform the masses. We still care today because the attempt at Temperance in the past can be used in the present in order to see what actions work and which ones don’t when trying to limit the usage of alcohol (Berridge).

There were several causes of the Temperance Movement in the early 19th century, but all causes seemed to revolve around the desire to reform society with the removal of its sins. Firstly, abolitionists worked to remove what they believed to be the biggest issue at the time, slavery. Through the desire to abolish this sin, they realized that the consumption of alcohol was as equally disastrous to society (“Roots of Prohibition”). The Protestant Church was the primary and...
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