temperance movement

temperance movement

Temperance movements worked to reduce consumption of alcohol. Some promoted simply reduction of alcohol while others were teetotalers that advocate complete abstinence.

In the United States, temperance movements began as early as the late 18th century when farmers in Connecticut worked to ban the manufacture of whiskey. By 1815, eight other states had some form of temperance movement although not all were state-wide groups. While religious groups factored in heavily in some of the groups, others did not. Many of the most serious temperance groups worked in a reform capacity, to reduce the use of drinking, particularly in observation of the Sabbath.

As the Civil War approached, the American Temperance Society (formed in 1826) had over 100,000 members actively preaching against the dangers of alcohol, particularly with regards to other moral issues including promiscuity and domestic violence.

Teetotalism had an almost parallel start, although its roots were in Europe, especially in England. These people believed that any consumption of alcohol (or any other intoxicant) -- except as medicine -- weakened the spirit of man and placed distance between man and God. When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Seventh-day Adventist Church religions were forming, they adopted the this ideology as a basic tenant or their faiths.

As drinking itself was never made outright illegal, there was a major reform movement underway into the early 20th century that saw the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution's ratification in January of 1920. With this amendment and the Volstead Act, the federal government at once at authority to enforce these restrictions and finally ban alcohol consumption.

The temperance movements fell out of favor rapidly during the Great Depression, with most cities having near-open drinking establishments enjoyed by citizens, law enforcements and legislators. By the time the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1933, the organized temperance movement was dead, nationwide.

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