The Temperance Movement

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The 18th amendment, “Section 1, After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. Section 2, The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Section 3, This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress. (The Charters of Freedom n.d.)” This amendment’s ratification was the realization of all the people in the United States that the temperance movement finally became reality, but long over a century before the ratification of the 18th Amendment the temperance movement was making its way into the United States. When examining the Prohibition its impact is palpable, but it was more than just a trial and error issue. The prohibition was about social reformation that took place long before the initial enactment of the 18th amendment. The era known as the temperance movement brought renovation on many aspects of the United States; politics, religion, government roles and the role of the people. The Temperance Movement is a period in time which we can credit this absolute change of American aspects to the array of prohibition supporting parties and Congressional debate.

The earliest signs of a temperance movement date back to the 1820’s, with licensing acts, that tried to limit, but truly the goal during the 1820’s was more focused on abolishment of alcohol. These first laws were brought forward by the Federalist Party. The Federalist Party would primarily be made up of businessmen, and most New Englanders were federalists. The Federalist Party would be made up of people that typically supported views of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton in the early 1800’s (Jenson 2000, 23-25). These laws and opinions soon would not only show prevalence in the Federalist community, but also soon would be adopted by fellow groups that had the same opinion of an abstinent America. The two main groups that became involved during this time were people of evangelical religions and the frontier people. The evangelical religion became involved spiritually, while the frontier people were suffering problems in the Midwest. The evangelical religion, is made up of Protestant Christian’s who derive from the England, they are also known as “born again” Christians (Eskridge 1995). The problems these “born again” Christians had with the frontier people was the issues of gambling. The frontier people were the people moving westward in America at the time, this sense of adventure associated with the frontier people showed itself in the gambling ring as well. During the 1830’s when gambling was under attack from the evangelical religion, the idea of temperance presented itself once again. During this restriction of gambling many ideas and issues presented themselves: abolishment of slavery, educational reform, women’s rights and prison reform. All of these ideas had one common goal in mind, reformation (Dunstan 1997).

In the 1840’s the idea grew from moderation to abstinence, throughout many townships, counties and cities in the United States prohibition was tried, surprisingly through many local options, but in 1851 our country received the first statewide prohibition law in Maine. The law was created by a temperance activist and the mayor of Portland, Maine, Neal Dow. The law “prohibited the sale of all alcoholic beverages except for medicinal, mechanical or manufacturing purposes” (Clubb 1856). This law soon became heard around the country, falling shortly behind was the world publicizing it. The state law soon had...
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