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date: 21 August 2017

Temperance and Prohibition

Summary and Keywords

The temperance and prohibition movement—a social reform movement that pursued many approaches to limit or prohibit the use and/or sale of alcoholic beverages—is arguably the longest-running reform movement in US history, extending from the 1780s through the repeal of national prohibition in 1933. During this 150-year period the movement experienced many ideological, organizational, and methodological changes. Probably the most widely embraced antebellum reform, many of its earliest assumptions and much of its earliest literature was explicitly evangelical, but over time the movement assumed an increasingly secular image while retaining strong ties to organized religion. During the movement’s first fifty years, its definition of temperance evolved successively from avoiding drunkenness, to abstaining from all distilled beverages, to abstaining from all intoxicating beverages (i.e., “teetotalism”). During these years, reformers sought merely to persuade others of their views—what was called “moral suasion.” But by the 1840s many reformers began seeking the coercive power of local and state governments to prohibit the “liquor traffic.” These efforts were called “legal suasion,” and in the early 20th century, when local and state laws were deemed insufficient, movement leaders turned to the federal government. Throughout its history, movement leaders produced an extensive and well-preserved serial and monographic literature to chronicle their efforts, which makes the movement relatively easy to study.

No less than five national temperance organizations rose and fell across the movement’s history, aided by many other organizations also promoted the message with great effect. Grass roots reformers organized innumerable state and local temperance societies and fraternal lodges committed to abstinence. Temperance reformers, hailing from nearly every conceivable demographic, networked through a series of national and international temperance conventions, and at any given time were pursuing a diverse and often conflicting array of priorities and methodologies.

Finally, during the Progressive Era, reformers focused their hatred for alcohol almost exclusively on saloons and the liquor traffic. Through groundbreaking lobbying efforts and a fortuitous convergence of social and political forces, reformers witnessed the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment in January 1919 that established national prohibition. Despite such a long history of reform, the success seemed sudden and caught many in the movement off guard. The rise of liquor-related violence, a transformation in federal-state relations, increasingly organized and outspoken opposition, the Great Depression, and a re-alignment of political party coalitions all culminated in the sweeping repudiation of prohibition and its Republican supporters in the 1932 presidential election. On December 5, 1933, the Twenty-first Amendment to the Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment, returning liquor regulation to the states, which have since maintained a wide variety of ever changing laws controlling the sale of alcoholic beverages. But national prohibition permanently altered the federal government’s role in law enforcement, and its legacy remains.

Keywords: temperance, prohibition, social reform, alcohol, moral suasion, antebellum reform, Progressive Era, religion, reform

The Rise of the Temperance Movement, 1784–1836

As with other reforms, a full understanding of temperance requires understanding its ideology, methodology, and organizational structure. All three were in constant flux and often in conflict. Temperance ideology includes what reformers meant by the term but also the panoply of rationales employed for promoting it. Temperance movement methodologies and organizations were about as varied as one’s imagination can envision. However, the rise of the temperance movement, and its development over time, can be understood only when one considers alcohol consumption patterns in the context of evolving social norms and economic and demographic trends.

The colonists’ consumption and regulation of alcohol replicated what was normative in 17th-century England. This meant that drinking alcoholic beverages was widely assumed to be a necessary, even healthy, practice, so “virtually everyone drank virtually all the time.”1 Equally important, drinking was embedded in specific social contexts with clearly defined customs and sanctions. Family meals were regularly accompanied by (often homemade) beer or hard cider for all ages. Farmers and master craftsmen supplied their laborers with daily rations of whiskey or rum that were enjoyed during the workday by employer and employee together. Alcohol flowed at gatherings such as weddings, funerals, ordinations, barn raisings, militia drills, corn huskings, and election days at the county courthouse. Alcoholic beverages were essential to one’s diet, since many colonists did not have access to safe drinking water or milk supplies, coffee and tea were too expensive, and soft drinks and unfermented juices had yet to be invented. It was nothing for men to drink several “drams” of brandy or whiskey daily, beginning in the morning. Different kinds of ciders were often distilled into brandies; however, by the time of the Revolutionary War, rum had become the most popular distilled drink. After the war, corn and rye whiskeys soon replaced rum as the inexpensive distilled drink of choice. There were always those who drank to excess (and, of course, preachers railed against it) but most colonists pursued subsistence lifestyles on relatively isolated farms more controlled by the seasons than the clock and generally not visible to the larger community. As Americans moved west of the Appalachians in the 1800s, they found it most economical to convert their corn to whiskey before shipping it to market. This literally created a whiskey “glut” in America.

Therefore, by 21st-century standards, per capita alcohol consumption was high at the time of the revolution and continued to rise through the 1820s. Per capita consumption of distilled beverages increased from less than three, to over five gallons a year between 1800 and 1830. By comparison, current per capita consumption is only about two gallons. When cider, beer, and wine are included, the per capita intake of absolute alcohol (the amount of alcohol in beverages) rose from about three to four gallons in the same period.2

In the pre-industrial colonial social order people knew their “station” in life and generally acted their part. In politics and religion, the masses deferred to their “better sorts,” and the better sorts willingly took the lead. Apprentices and journeymen artisans boarded with their employers, who were legally responsible for their after-work leisure. Laws that governed such matters as drinking in taverns were designed on the assumption that since people were sinners, the best the law could do was circumscribe, not eliminate, the negative effects of excessive drinking. Americans moved west into the Mohawk, Ohio, and Mississippi River valleys and into the new territories of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana more rapidly than local political and religious institutions could be re-created. And people moved multiple times, constantly seeking cheaper land, new economic opportunities, or to escape their past and begin life anew. All colonies and eastern states that had taxed residents to support churches ended the practice by 1800, except Connecticut and Massachusetts, and increasing numbers of people began living in western communities frequently lacking churches, schools, or even functioning local governments. Cities grew rapidly in both numbers and size, as young men increasingly left their family farms, and families to seek their fortunes in impersonal cities as immigration exploded in the 1830s. The urban population increased an alarming 60 percent in both the 1820s and 1830s, and by 92 percent in the 1840s. In the 1820s states began to remove property and tax requirements for voting, enfranchising all white males and basically eliminating the need for deference in politics. A new generation of popular self-made preachers arose who connected rhetorically and stylistically with the masses, and sometimes even denigrated advanced theological study. Finally, unmarried journeymen craftsmen began to move out of their employers’ homes into boarding houses in poorer neighborhoods, away from the oversight of their master craftsmen employers. Men increasingly drank outside the home, in taverns, during these ever-changing times. Societal transformations weakened the traditional social contexts for drinking at the same time that drinking was increasing. A general “leveling” in all areas of life made it seem to some that the nation’s social order was crumbling. How could peoples’ baser natures be restrained in such unsettling times? Could a republic long endure without stable, virtuous communities? It is in this context that a culture of reform and the Second Great Awakening flourished, and the temperance movement emerged as an integral part of both.3

Defining Temperance

Temperance reformers generally considered Philadelphia physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush, the “father” of the movement. An active reformer in areas such as education, prisons, and medical care, Rush’s ideas were all of a piece and articulated a clear republican vision for American society. In 1784 he published An Inquiry into the Effects of Spiritous Liquors on the Human Body and Mind. Rush attributed such vices, diseases, and punishments as idleness, swearing, epilepsy, and the gallows to drinking distilled spirits, while praising the effects of wine, beer, and cider. For over twenty years Rush’s arguments fell mostly on deaf years, but once the movement began to organize, reformers found him a useful authority to cite.4

Even more importantly, in 1827 Reverend Lyman Beecher, father of the well-known Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, published Six Sermons on the Nature, Occasions, Signs, Evils, and Remedy of Intemperance. These very influential sermons became the de facto blueprint for the temperance movement. Beecher raised the stakes by calling for abstinence from all intoxicating beverages (not just distilled drinks), national coordination of the movement, and for a public education campaign that would cause citizens to call for a ban on the liquor traffic itself. Within ten years, temperance reformers had embraced Beecher’s expanded platform. Reformers gradually arrived at this teetotal position because new research had proved the presence of alcohol in beer and wine (which had previously been disputed), and because experience had proven that use of beer and wine could cause reformed drunkards to relapse. Also, because whiskey was cheap it was the drink of the working classes, so attacking only that drink created the appearance of a class-based movement, exposing reformers to all sorts of criticisms. From the 1830s onward, temperance organizations defined “temperance” to mean total abstinence from all intoxicating beverages, but they were criticized as “ultraists,” and lost some of their supporters. Other organizations continued to support “temperance” in its traditional sense of meaning moderate drinking.5

Temperance Motivation and Rationale

A growing number of national, regional, state, and local case studies have attributed the rise and success of the temperance movement to causes that can be grouped into two main categories: those related to the social changes that accompanied modernization—the gender and class values associated with the rise of the middle class, the market economy, and industrialization—and those related to the ideology and worldview of the temperance reformers.

Rush, Beecher, and other northeastern reformers (who often voted with the Federalist Party), adhered to a widely held set of ideas best described as “Christian republicanism.” It was a hybrid political-religious moral framework used to justify the American Revolution, and it subsequently critiqued the social, political, and economic issues of their day, prescribing the best path forward for the health of the young republic. Purely secular republicanism taught that all republics experienced a life cycle beginning with a virtuous youth, then corruption in their middle years, followed by an inevitable decline and collapse into despotism. Republics declined because their citizens lost their virtue (disinterested service for common good) to forces of corruption such as self-interest and prosperity, leading to excessive indulgence on luxuries. The most sobering aspect of classical republicanism was the presumed inevitability of a republic’s decline, and America’s “founding fathers” genuinely wondered how long the American “experiment” would last.

Although Christian republicanism also assumed a direct relationship between public virtue and the success of the republic, it defined virtue as hinging on one’s personal morality, so a religious conversion experience would presumably lead to more virtuous behavior. Many revivalists of the Second Great Awakening, from the 1790s into the 1820s, began preaching temperance as emphatically as they did conversion and considered both to hold as much civic value as they did spiritual value. Preachers came to believe that communities with strong temperance movements tended to experience revivals of religion. Conversely, many taught that new converts should work to improve society by embracing such socially benevolent work as temperance to reduce poverty, disease, and crime.6

Even if one did not attend church or a revival service, they could easily be exposed to the temperance message in non-religious settings. Those who considered themselves “self-made,” progressive men usually embraced abstinence as a way to improve society. As the labor of more and more men became tied to regional and national markets, success required a predictable work regimen, so entrepreneurs found a temperate lifestyle in their best economic interest. Gradually employers stopped providing the expected midday whisky dram to their workers, became abstainers themselves, and began to lecture their workers on the need to become teetotalers and join a temperance society. During these years, the medical profession was undergoing a professionalization process, and many physicians incorporated Rush’s position on distilled spirits as a part of it. Doctors such as Benjamin Richardson published research on the harmful effects of alcohol to support the movement. College presidents and professors almost unanimously supported abstinence and taught it to their students, also gaining many converts.7

Temperance literature (tracts, short stories, novels, and plays) also developed a thick discourse around women and alcohol that became integral to the formation of middle class gender ideology. Reformers usually portrayed women as either sympathetic victims of male drunkenness or moral exemplars who empowered men to resist temptation or restored the fallen. The realities behind these portrayals inspired many women to become active reformers. Women reformers signed petitions opposing tavern licenses, encouraged men and women to sign abstinence pledges, taught their children the evils of drink, and joined single and mixed gender temperance societies in large numbers. At its height, the Daughters of Temperance became the nation’s largest antebellum woman’s organization.8

African Americans also received strong temperance messages from various sources. Mutual aid societies were some of the most important black-controlled institutions at this time, and they had virtually no tolerance for drunken members. Using the traditional definition of temperance, their constitutions required expulsion of members known for drunkenness but not for those who used alcoholic drinks. The black convention movement, which began in 1830, regularly approved resolutions in support of the temperance movement. Richard Allen, the well-known founding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was an abstainer, and AME congregations often sponsored temperance societies for their members. African American temperance reformers often used the same arguments as did white reformers, but the extreme racism of the day lent their arguments a special urgency lacking in whites’ rhetoric. Their inherited African sense of ethics inclined them to believe that every individual’s behavior affected the whole community, so some blacks argued that an abstinent lifestyle would “prove” their virtuousness to white Americans, undermine racism, and thereby buttress their claims to full citizenship. Finally, black temperance reformers were particularly fond of incorporating their hatred of slavery into their temperance rhetoric, arguing that they opposed both kinds of “slavery” (dependence): slavery to another person and slavery to the bottle.9

Temperance Methodology and Organizations

Temperance reformers, like other reformers and revivalist preachers, held human reason in such high esteem that they believed individuals could not help but be persuaded by logically structured arguments; so until the end of this period all temperance efforts incorporated persuasive arguments. Temperance meetings bore similarities to revival services: they included prayer, songs, testimonials, and a speaker. At their conclusions, attendees were asked to make a decision and publically sign an abstinence pledge. Signers were then encouraged to join temperance societies, where they would regularly hear encouraging speakers and where they could bring others to sign the pledge. Even in the early 20th-century, when reformers committed most resources to fighting the “liquor traffic,” there were always some working to get people to “sign the pledge.”

Beginning in 1808, and without any national coordination, local temperance societies began springing up throughout the northeast and the Ohio valley. The first southern temperance society was formed in North Carolina in 1822. The Massachusetts Society for the Suppression of Intemperance (MSSI), founded in 1813, was the first temperance society to create a network of affiliated local groups. It intentionally sought out the elite members of local communities, but lasted only a few years and only opposed the intemperate use of spirits, even serving wine at its meetings.10

In 1826, however, a group of ministers involved in various benevolent empire organizations launched the first truly national temperance organization: the American Temperance Society (ATS). It held annual conferences, published a newspaper, millions of copies of tracts, circulars, and annual reports, and financed the ministers Nathaniel Hewitt and Justin Edwards as itinerant agents to sign up existing local temperance groups and organize new ones. Unlike MSSI, the ATS pledge followed Benjamin Rush’s recommendation and required total abstinence from distilled spirits. Its primary goal was not to restore drunkards but rather to make sure that sober people remained sober. Demonstrating its effective mass appeal, by 1835 the ATS had organized over 1.5 million people (about 12 percent of the population) into over eight thousand local societies in every part of the nation. But there were likely still more unaffiliated local societies. In 1833 the ATS became the United States Temperance Union, and in 1836, it became the American Temperance Union and added some Canadian societies. It was at the 1836 convention where the ATS also voted to follow the lead of many of its local and state societies and adopt the teetotal pledge.11

But the temperance message was also spread by other groups of the benevolent empire. The American Tract Society and local tract societies published many temperance tracts, and missionaries from such groups as the American Home Mission Society and the American Baptist Home Mission Society distributed them and organized temperance societies throughout the West. Sunday School literature often included temperance stories. Charles Finney, the most famous evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, included several temperance sermons and pledge-signing opportunities in his renowned 1830–1831 Rochester, New York revival. Influential revivalists Asahel Nettleton and Edward Norris Kirk further tightened the revival-temperance connection by publically questioning the sincerity of any convert who refused to also sign the abstinence pledge. Popular Methodist itinerants in the South and West, such as Peter Cartwright and James B. Finley, railed against intemperance, and not a few Baptists also castigated it. Abstinence sentiment grew slowly among Methodists and Baptists from the 1830s onward, but as the two fastest growing sects in America, their temperance efforts cannot be dismissed.12

Every Which Way, 1836–1893

Temperance reformers might have agreed on their definition of temperance in 1836, but they agreed on little else. Their ranks were as notoriously divided as those of other reform movements. Some continued to persuade individuals through a flood of free and inexpensive literature, speeches, and local organizing. Others experimented with ways to use the political process to end the liquor traffic, which they now deemed intrinsically evil, just as they now argued that drinking any amount of alcohol was a sin. Some chastised the new German and Irish immigrants for their drinking customs, some worked to restore drunkards to sobriety, and some spread the temperance message through popular forms of entertainment. Rarely did any one reformer support all of these efforts. So many different things were being done in the name of temperance that one is tempted to argue that there were actually several simultaneous movements.

The Rise of New Organizations

From 1836 to 1865 the American Temperance Union (ATU) was the national voice of the movement. Although it struggled financially, its secretary, congregational minister John Marsh Jr., faithfully churned out temperance literature, annual reports, and traveled and spoke extensively. As with the ATS, the ATU’s leadership unashamedly considered itself a Christian organization, even calling God himself the “supporter and director” of the movement. As the years passed, the ATU’s influence declined, and its annual reports increasingly focused on overseas temperance developments.

The 1840s witnessed the rise of two dynamic new types of temperance organizations: the Washingtonians and fraternal temperance lodges. The Washingtonians originated in Baltimore in 1840 as a working-class temperance movement that used non-religious methods to reach the masses. Clergy, the middle class, and the wealthy generally criticized and avoided the movement, but by 1841 they claimed to have convinced hundreds of thousands of working men to sign the pledge and to have reformed many drunkards. They sponsored picnics, fairs, and parades. They also pioneered the use of reformed drunkard testimonials and generally re-created the camaraderie drunkards used to experience in taverns. Women formed Martha Washington auxiliaries to provide food and clothing to families in need because of an alcoholic husband. After only a few years, a variety of internal conflicts led to the fracturing and rapid decline of the Washingtonian movement, but its members had successfully popularized the movement to a mass audience in a way that the more middle class ATS and ATU never could.13

While difficulties arose in the Washingtonian movement, temperance lodges began appearing: Sons of Temperance (1843), Independent Order of Good Samaritans (1847), and the Independent Order of Good Templars (1852). These groups, usually operating as secret societies, required members to sign abstinence pledges, incorporated formal rituals and regalia, held regular meetings that provided accountability, and sometimes offered the insurance benefits of a mutual aid society. They grew rapidly in the 1840s and 1850s, and although their popularity fluctuated over the years, some experienced long-term success, existing until the early twentieth century. Like the Washingtonians, the Good Samaritans focused heavily on reforming drunkards. The Sons of Temperance had a strict policy of secrecy to help restore those who relapsed and to preserve the image of the movement. The Sons had an affiliate named the Daughters of Temperance that existed for about ten years. The Templars admitted men and women, spread to England and Scotland, and comprised the majority of the attendees at the organizing convention of the Prohibition Party in 1869. In the 1870s, Templars created the United Order of True Reformers, a parallel fraternity for southern blacks. 14

There were even temperance societies for children, called Bands of Hope, which originated in England in 1847 and spread to the United States in the 1850s. Adults acted as overseers, and the membership requirements (pledge signing) and meetings were modeled after adult temperance societies. Children were taught from an official Band of Hope Catechism to abstain from all alcoholic beverages.15

The Move into Politics

At the 1833 convention of the American Temperance Society, radical reformer Gerrit Smith successfully sponsored a resolution that condemned the liquor traffic as morally wrong and recommended that “local communities be permitted by law to prohibit the said traffic within their respective jurisdictions.” Despite its passage, many opposed government involvement, either because they believed only personal religious transformation could make someone temperate or because they thought it implied the failure of moral suasion. Supporters, however, argued that prohibition would put liquor sellers on a par with businesses such as brothels and gambling dens and that public sentiment would gradually turn against them. The focus on local political action meant it would only be attempted in locales where there was already sufficient public support for it, support presumably created through prior moral suasion. Because counties, towns, and cities had different government structures for approving retail liquor licenses, these efforts varied from place to place. While one locality might hold a referendum on granting liquor licenses (a “local option” election), in another reformers might run candidates for commissioner (or whoever granted the licenses) who promised not to grant any liquor licenses.

From the late 1840s through the 1850s, temperance reformers poured their energy into local political efforts, and they successfully “dried up” many northern and western communities. In the 1840s New York passed a law standardizing the process by which localities could prohibit the retail sale of alcohol, and within two years 728 of its 856 towns went dry. Southern attitudes toward the role of government, buttressed by the weakness of market forces in many communities and the regionally popular Protestant biblical teaching emphasizing the “spirituality of the church” (the idea that the church should not involve itself in secular matters), prevented antebellum southern reformers from experiencing nearly as much political success. In contrast, New England states often led the way in using the law to control alcohol, supported by their philosophy of governance, which assumed the right of the community to use the law to regulate individual morality for the public good. Reformers did not remain satisfied with local laws, however, and turned their efforts to the state level. In 1838 Massachusetts passed a law forbidding the sale of alcoholic beverages in the state in quantities less than 15 gallons, effectively making all sales wholesale. The opposition to this law was so strong that at the next election the Whig governor and the lawmakers who signed the bill were voted out of office, and the law was repealed.

Neal Dow, the mayor of Portland, Maine, and founder of the Maine Temperance Union, was the driving force behind the landmark 1851 Maine Liquor Law. This law made Maine the first state to ban the manufacture and the wholesale and retail sale of liquor. It inspired reformers in many other states to attempt the same thing and made Dow a temperance celebrity. Between 1852 and 1855 many states debated such a law, and twelve passed one: Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Vermont, Michigan, Connecticut, New York, Indiana, Delaware, Iowa, Nebraska, and New Hampshire. The nativist Know-Nothings political party was influential in state-level politics during the 1850s, and their elected officials usually supported prohibition laws. These laws produced so much backlash that courts in five states invalidated key enforcement provisions of their laws, and in four states the legislatures repealed their own laws. There were also instances of mob violence connected with enforcing these laws which tarnished the movement’s image. Where the laws remained, enforcement was generally lax until after the Civil War. Despite its struggles and shortcomings, organized antebellum temperance certainly had it successes. By 1845 per capita alcohol consumption had declined to about a quarter of what it was at its peak in 1830.16

Temperance and Popular Culture

The temperance message entered popular culture in the 1830s and 1840s in a way that shaped both it and popular culture. Former drunkards such as John Henry Willis Hawkins and John B. Gough toured the nation giving dramatic and lurid speeches of how alcohol once controlled them but they eventually became sober. They were titillating and financially successful entertainers, but the audience always left with a temperance message. Many of these “experience speakers” had become dry through the Washingtonians, so they presented their message mostly without reference to a spiritual conversion. These speakers represented a “democratization” of the movement, for their authority rested on nothing more than their personal experience. Their stories progressed predictably from an early period of respectability, to social dislocation either in a city or on the frontier, to a decline into drunkenness, and a pledge-signing experience leading to their restoration.17

The temperance cause inspired a massive amount of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, and some pieces that blurred the distinction. Clergy leaders of the movement published plenty, but so too did the experience speakers, women writers, and physicians. John B. Gough published the first of several editions of his temperance-laced autobiography in 1845. Some other particularly well-known temperance writings included Putnam and the Wolf (1829), Inquire at Amos Giles’ Distillery (1835), The Distiller’s Daughter: Or, The Power of Woman (1844), and Mrs. Henry Wood’s Danesbury House (1860). By far the most popular temperance novel was T. S. Arthur’s Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I saw There (1854), which sold over 400,000 copies. It was one of the best sellers of the 19th-century. Arthur drew the stories for his fictional work from Washingtonian testimonials he had heard. African American fiction writers also addressed temperance in their writings. Some examples include The Two Offers, Clotel: Or, The President’s Daughter, The Garies and Their Friends, and Blake: Or, The Huts of America. African American authors spoke highly of the abstinent lifestyle, with some portraying it as a way to resist oppression by whites.18

Theater was growing in popularity during these years, too, and its leaders latched on to the temperance message so as to expand its appeal to the middle class, who generally avoided theaters for moral reasons. The Drunkard: or, The Fallen Saved!, a melodrama that opened in Boston in February 1844, was the first theater production to have over a hundred consecutive performances. It was the first of several popular shows portraying morally “respectable” temperance themes. By far the most influential temperance drama was William W. Pratt’s stage adaption of T. S. Arthur’s Ten Nights, first produced in 1857. It was produced regularly into the 20th century, during the silent film era, and as late as 1931 for the silver screen. Plays such as these enabled attendees to steep themselves “not in an ethic of restraint, frugality, and rationality but rather in the pleasures of emotional release, commercialized leisure, and compensatory fantasy, purified by evangelical trappings.”19

Temperance and the Civil War

Although the Civil War gave temperance reformers much to fret over, such as the army’s restoration of its daily spirit ration, the movement marched on. Whiskey was part of the Confederacy’s daily navy ration and was authorized for use in its army “under circumstances of great exposure and protracted fatigue,” as well as for medical purposes. The Confederacy’s need to feed its soldiers, however, led to various prohibitions on producing spirits.20 In 1862 the federal government began taxing distilled and malt liquors and licensing retail liquor sellers, which some reformers complained legitimized the liquor traffic. Most reformers, however, focused their attention on drinking by Union soldiers. In 1861 the Young Men’s Christian Association organized the United States Christian Commission to assist army and navy chaplains in meeting the troops’ spiritual and physical needs. The commission sent almost five thousand civilians behind Union Army lines to distribute Bibles, conduct prayer meetings, operate canteens, distribute medical supplies, and operate lending libraries. Promoting temperance was a commission goal, so temperance literature was included among the millions of pages of tracts its “delegates” distributed. 21

Another way for temperance-minded men to find support was to join specifically designated “temperance regiments,” such as the 13th Maine Infantry and the 24th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. Their members and officers committed themselves to abstinence. Neal Dow accepted his commission as the commanding officer of the 13th Maine Infantry Regiment only under the condition that he could select officers who were “temperate and upright men.”22

New Postbellum Temperance Organizations

The end of the Civil War revitalized the temperance movement. Sons of Temperance membership doubled between 1865 and 1868, and that of the Templars increased six-fold as they rapidly spread into the South. Although only four national temperance conventions were held in the thirty years before the war, five were held in the first sixteen years following the war. Reformers used these conventions to network, assess various strategies, and pass resolutions carefully articulating the “liquor problem.”23

In addition to revitalized fraternal orders, three very different new temperance organizations emerged following the Civil War to lead the movement into the 1890s. At the Fifth National Temperance Convention in August 1865, delegates decided to close the moribund American Temperance Union and create a new organization to carry forward the vision of the ATS and the ATU. The new organization, the National Temperance Society and Publication House (NTS), intentionally perpetuated the earliest characteristics of the temperance movement, such as moral suasion, education, Christian republicanism, and clergy and church involvement. Good Templar J. N. Stearns was named its publishing agent and editor of its monthly, the National Temperance Advocate. The NTS committed itself to educating the public by distributing large amounts of inexpensive literature and defending every community’s right to conduct local option elections.24

Once it became clear that the Republican Party would not adopt national prohibition as a plank in its platform, the Good Templars and Sons of Temperance called for a national convention in 1869 in Chicago to discuss the idea of creating a national Prohibition Party. They viewed the Republican Party as key to the overthrow of slavery and thought that another party would be the best way to end the liquor traffic. Several of the more progressive reformers who had helped organize the Republican Party also attended, and together they birthed the Prohibition Party, which nominated its first presidential candidate in 1872. The party was much more than a one-issue group however, for its initial platform included a call for the direct election of senators and woman’s suffrage, among other issues. The Prohibition Party did not emphasize the evangelical temperance arguments favored by the National Temperance Society, although some NTS leaders were members of the party. Prohibitionists targeted the liquor traffic, per se, stressing its high cost to society from the crime, disease, political corruption, and poverty it caused. This materialistic focus was designed to broaden its appeal to an increasingly diverse electorate. The party represented the radical fringe of the movement and highlighted its divisions because the vast majority of reformers were loath to tamper with the two party system. They preferred local option elections where people voted “yes” or “no” on prohibition, independent of any particular party, so political partisanship would not intrude on the alcohol question.25

The third major temperance organization was organized by veterans of the “Woman’s Crusade,” a movement of women who gathered in front of saloons to pray publicly for their closure. This occurred in as many as 900 towns during the winter and spring of 1873–1874 and led to saloon closures in over two hundred communities. Organization of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union followed in November 1874 at a convention in Cleveland, Ohio, with Frances Willard becoming corresponding secretary, then president in 1879. Willard became nationally famous in that role, making a much-touted tour of over fifty southern cities in 1881 that helped organize the southern temperance movement and was viewed as a major step in reunifying the nation. Although gaining prohibition was a top priority, Willard proclaimed a “do everything” motto that encouraged local chapters to engage in whatever reforms their local communities needed. She began arguing that women should be given the right to vote so that they could protect their homes by voting to close saloons. This rhetoric smartly built on middle-class gender ideology that made women responsible for the moral purity of their home and became a major turning point in the women’s suffrage movement. Loyal Temperance Legion chapters were created to educate boys and girls about the dangers of alcohol, and the WCTU’s Department of Scientific Temperance Instruction pressured every state legislature to implement mandatory alcohol education in its public schools. Willard welcomed both racially segregated and integrated local chapters, and although national WCTU conventions welcomed all women, the WCTU faced ongoing criticism from both blacks and whites about how it handled racial issues. Under Willard, over half of all US counties claimed a WCTU chapter, making it the first truly national voluntary organization since the end of the Civil War. In 1881 the WCTU joined a coalition of missionary groups that worked to “reach” former slaves with the temperance message. 26

Temperance and ProhibitionClick to view larger

Figure 1. 1888 WCTU Petition. Courtesy of the National Archives.

Postbellum Temperance Politics

In the 1880s the work of the NTS, WCTU, and the Prohibition Party produced the largest wave of prohibition activism since the 1850s. Republican and Democratic Party leaders knew that embracing prohibition would have easily split both of their parties, so they found ways to avoid endorsing it, to the consternation of some prohibitionists. Those who rejected the Prohibition Party, which was most temperance workers, could not work easily with the Republican or Democratic parties either. Because so many of the old 1850s state prohibition laws had been gutted when states backtracked on prohibition, the WCTU decided to work to amend state constitutions this time, presuming that such legal maneuvers would be much more difficult to reverse. J. Ellen Foster, superintendent of WCTU legislative affairs, coordinated petition campaigns calling for statewide referenda. Although Republicans refused to add prohibition to their platform, they eventually supported the idea of holding statewide referenda so citizens could decide for themselves. Democrats, however, proudly remained the party of “personal liberty” and opposed sumptuary laws. In 1880 Kansas was the first state to successfully amend its constitution to prohibit alcohol, and nineteen more referenda were held in seventeen more states and territories. Although seven states adopted prohibition, more Republicans left for the Prohibition Party, and some African Americans even flirted with the idea of abandoning the “party of Lincoln.” Prohibition Party strength peaked in the 1892 presidential election.27

Evangelical support for abstinence finally solidified in the postbellum South. Although Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian preachers proclaimed personal abstinence and their churches consistently disciplined their own intemperate members, many church members remained ambivalent about empowering state government to ban the liquor traffic. Black pastors, mostly Baptist and Methodist, also preached vigorously against alcohol and disciplined members for drunkenness.28

Despite conflicted evangelicals, prohibition did expand in the South during the late 1870ss and 1880ss, through various legal mechanisms. Georgia passed a “3 mile” law, which required all property owners within a three-mile radius to approve every proposed saloon. Tennessee’s “4 mile” law created dry zones around schools outside of incorporated towns that dried up much of rural Tennessee. Some states created dry zones around every church and school. Many communities petitioned their state legislature for permission to deny liquor licenses. Ad hoc requests such as these made 80 percent of Georgia’s counties dry by 1885. Then Georgia passed a general local option bill to standardize the process for the remaining counties. Virginia and Mississippi each enacted similar local option laws, which led, in Mississippi, to 80 percent of its counties using the process to close their saloons. One of the most prominent southern local option votes was Atlanta’s successful 1885 vote. There was certainly plenty of opposition to prohibition, though, and in 1887 statewide referenda were defeated in Tennessee and Texas, and Atlantans later reversed their 1885 vote. These votes ended the spread of prohibition in the South for twenty years.29

Prohibition during the Progressive Era, 1893–1933

The 1890s offered mixed successes for the largely temperance-turned-prohibition movement. Between 1890 and 1906 local option efforts dried up more than half of the nation’s counties, representing about 40 percent of the population. Evangelical Protestant churches—but not most Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Episcopalians—consistently taught personal abstinence in their Sunday Schools and their youth organizations, in their Sunday sermons, and in their denominational publications. Evangelical congregations began substituting “unfermented sacramental wine” (grape juice) for wine in Holy Communion.30

Although local dry politics witnessed some success, the major national temperance organizations experienced more repositioning, recalculating, and bickering than success. Frances Willard sought (with significant opposition and limited success) to ally the WCTU with the Prohibition Party while continuing to promote women’s suffrage by calling it a “home protection” ballot. But talk of women’s suffrage caused many southern evangelicals to distance themselves from the WCTU, and the major political parties and the Prohibition Party all were sent scrambling by the rise of Populism. In response, party Prohibitionists debated how broad or narrow their party platform should be and whether or not they should seek “fusion” with the Populists, only for both parties to fade into insignificance by the end of the decade. The prominence of the WCTU, the Prohibition Party, and the National Temperance Society waned as key leaders died, and movement leadership gradually transitioned to the new Anti-Saloon League (ASL). Despite the organizational challenges of the 1890s, movement leaders soon found ways to successfully appropriate key aspects of their changing society to build a coalition strong enough to pass national prohibition.31

Just as early-19th-century social and political thought shaped the ideology and tactics of the temperance movement, Progressive Era America reshaped the movement in fundamental ways that would have made it almost unrecognizable to many earlier reformers. Over twenty million immigrants, mostly from southern and eastern Europe, industrialization, and urbanization, radically transformed the United States between the 1880s and the 1910s. Immigrants were mostly Roman Catholic and Jewish, and native-born white Protestants viewed them as inferior peoples. By 1910 almost 15 percent of Americans were foreign born, and in some cities it was close to 50 percent. They arrived with little to no education and had few opportunities to do anything but low paying factory jobs. Multigenerational families lived in cramped tenement housing, often sharing their apartment with another family. Sanitation and public health concerns abounded.

To compound matters, in the eyes of native-born white Protestants, wine and beer played central roles in the social life and cultural traditions of most immigrants. Factory workers would eat lunch in local saloons and stop by again on the way home from the factory. Between 1840 and 1910 per capita beer consumption grew over 1,000 percent, and its frequent public consumption easily caught the attention of temperance reformers. Saloons became the working man’s “palace.” Saloons functioned as ethnic “community centers,” as well as centers of local partisan politics, as party precinct captains and ward bosses secured their constituents’ votes by “taking care of” their various needs when unemployed, sick, injured, etc. Before long reformers argued that closing saloons would clean up political corruption.32

The desire to explore ways to ameliorate the negative side effects of industrialization and urbanization helped fuel the rise of the social sciences and social work, as various statistical and research-based urban reforms were proposed and implemented to improve the lives of city dwellers. Reformers such as Jane Addams established settlement houses to provide services such as English-language classes and childcare for immigrants and began to argue for the closing of the saloons. Supporting their efforts was a generally growing respect for science and professional expertise and a belief in its ability to solve human problems. As a result, reformers happily promoted—and exaggerated to good effect—the findings of groups such as the American Medical Association and the American Society for the study of Alcohol and Other Narcotic Drugs, which denied the health benefits of alcohol. Prominent business leaders such as John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford supported the anti-saloon movement because they saw it as good for business efficiency and workers’ health, anticipating benefits such as fewer worker absentees on “blue Mondays.”

The heightened racial prejudices of the era also provided an impetus to close saloons. Many native-born white Protestants, disdainful of so many “inferior” whites in cities, began to fear such things as losing their cultural dominance and the possibility of racial “degeneracy” if the new immigrants did not assimilate quickly. Closing the saloons would help immigrants learn to live as Americans. At the same time, anti-black prejudice reached new extremes in ever tightening Jim Crow laws requiring segregation everywhere. As lynching increased, negative caricatures of black people became increasingly common, and southern white elites blamed poor whites and blacks for volatile race relations. Whiskey allegedly made black males more dangerous to white women, and southern elites who argued that the racial mixing in “low dives” was fertile soil for race riots promoted closing saloons in the best interest of law and order. The many new turn-of-the-century socioeconomic realities provided many otherwise disparate groups of Americans reasons to support closing saloons.33

The Success of Prohibition in the South

Prohibition did not become widely accepted in the South until the first decade of the 20th century. In the 1890s, “Redeemer” Democrats, fearful of losing control over state and local politics, actively undermined both Populists and Prohibitionists. At the same time, Prohibitionists had to address strong southern cultural norms that conflicted with the goals of Prohibitionists. For example, Prohibitionist rhetoric redefined the southern code of honor to mean sobriety and law-abiding orderliness, rather than hard drinking and fighting. Second, the “spirituality of the church” doctrine that prohibited church involvement in secular matters was consistently challenged until it fell out of favor. Finally, prohibitionists seized on the rising white fears of racial violence (e.g. 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina, and 1906 Atlanta race riots) and concern about white women being raped by alcohol-fueled black men. They argued that Prohibition was the best way to simultaneously protect white women and stop the lawlessness of lynching. In the 1880s Prohibitionists had conveniently blamed blacks for the many defeats of local Prohibition referendums while ignoring the divided white electorate. With that interpretation they came to support blacks’ disfranchisement, ostensibly to reduce voting “corruption.” Blacks’ disfranchisement, along with Prohibition and ending the convict lease system became leading causes of southern progressives. By the 1900s, because of the disfranchisement of blacks throughout the region, whites could freely debate prohibition without the risk of losing Democratic political control, and between 1907 and 1919 voters in Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Florida approved statewide prohibition referenda, while state legislatures in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, and Arkansas approved statewide prohibition.34

The Anti-Saloon League and National Prohibition

The Anti-Saloon League (ASL) had its hand in some, but not all of the southern prohibition victories. Lawyer turned Congregational minister Howard H. Russell had organized the Ohio Anti-Saloon League in 1893 based on his conviction that the model of the Prohibition Party could never succeed, but that rather narrow, pragmatic, non-partisan political action designed specifically to close saloons would be far more successful. Although Russell eschewed the larger reform agendas of the WCTU and Prohibition Party and was not explicit about his faith in his activism, this did not mean Russell rejected church support. In fact, the league claimed to be “the Church in Action Against the Saloon.” It received official support from Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Baptists, and employed mostly ordained ministers and active laymen. Russell organized leagues in local congregations with support from pastors. In 1895 at a convention with representatives from forty-seven different temperance organizations, Russell organized the Anti-Saloon League of America, which by 1908 had branches in forty-three states. The ASL’s internal structure and functioning were more akin to a corporation than a democratic grass roots social reform organization whose priorities are guided by the interests and votes of its members. State leaders were appointed, not elected, and worked in concert with the national organization’s goals.

The ASL effectively pioneered several modern interest group lobbying tactics. It supported virtually any legislator who supported local option elections or the closing of saloons, even if the lawmaker was not personally abstinent. This was a significant change from the traditional temperance tactic of only electing “godly men.” The ASL also, to the horror of many, disavowed loyalty to any party. Nothing mattered except its own agenda of closing saloons. It wrote “model” laws for legislators to sponsor, kept mailing lists of dry voters, recorded and publicized legislators’ voting records, organized letter writing campaigns, and printed and distributed literally tons of literature monthly. In Ohio it even successfully persuaded voters to remove a legislator and governor from office and to replace them with individuals who supported their agenda. Such tactics and successes soon gained the league the respect of elected officials from both parties. By 1908 the Ohio ASL had attracted its share of criticism, partly from its complete disregard for party loyalty; however, it had also achieved several impressive legislative victories that greatly restricted the state’s liquor businesses and inspired leagues in other states to replicate its success.

Finally, in 1913 the ASL made its biggest and boldest moves. It turned its attention to the U.S. Congress, and in a matter of weeks persuaded it to pass the Webb-Kenyon bill and override President Howard Taft’s veto. The bill prohibited interstate shipment of liquor into states whose laws already prohibited possession or consumption of liquor. In the years before this victory the liquor industry had become increasingly organized and politically active and the ASL had lost some local elections. The ASL’s weakness in popular votes seemed to contrast with its effective lobbying of lawmakers. At the same time, supporters of Progressivism were pushing through Congress important new laws designed to protect American citizens, such as the laws creating the Food and Drug Administration, the Meat Inspection Act, and the Federal Trade Commission. Considering urban population growth, the ASL calculated that reapportionment after the 1920 census would increase the number of congressmen from urban districts, making their work more challenging. They decided it was a favorable time to launch a campaign for a constitutional amendment creating national prohibition. Wayne Wheeler, the ASL’s lead lobbyist, called the decision “the logical result of the tendency of the times toward a government under which the people may protect themselves from evil and wrong.” As it turned out, the Eighteenth Amendment was one of four amendments passed between 1913 and 1919, the biggest wave of amendment writing since Reconstruction. One of those amendments established the federal income tax, which greatly reduced the federal government’s dependence on liquor tax revenues. None of these changes were lost on the ASL leadership.35

The ASL leadership expected that it would take up to twenty years to pass their radical amendment even with marshalling all of its resources. But the beginning of the First World War rapidly transformed public opinion about patriotism, the federal government, and all things German including beer and, by implication, generally all alcohol. As the nation began to pass laws to control production in certain key industries and took control of the railroads, public opinion focused on the ways citizens could make sacrifices for the good of their nation. New laws created dry zones around army bases to ensure healthy soldiers, and required grain to be used for food, not liquor. As public opinion turned increasingly against Germans, the US Senate investigated the United States Brewers’ Association for its German sympathies, and the German American National Alliance of America (which was funded by the brewers) was forced to cease operations because of its alleged sympathies with the Kaiser. In this environment, between 1914 and 1916, fourteen more states established prohibition. The 1914 Congress contained clear dry majorities but not the necessary two-thirds for approving an amendment. To bring public opinion in line with national Prohibition, the ASL distributed literature in fifteen different languages, published new periodicals targeting specific demographic groups, expanded fundraising, and coordinated its efforts with other groups, such as the Federal Council of Churches and the WCTU. Ernest Cherrington, responsible for all ASL publishing, took advantage of the concern for workplace efficiency and safety by printing literature that touted the benefits of closing the saloons for the industrial workplace. For several years, there had also been a growing body of scientific literature calling alcohol both poisonous and a narcotic, which added important gravitas to the older arguments of preachers and reformers. Citing experts and specialists, ASL literature presented the closing of America’s saloons as a panacea for a widening range of American social and economic ills. As wartime needs became political priorities, Americans who might otherwise have opposed intrusive federal legislation became increasingly inclined to accept expanded federal powers.

Two-thirds of the Congress elected in 1916, in part through ASL work, were committed to a prohibition amendment. The ASL first successfully lobbied for a rider to a bill that prohibited the use of grain in distilling. Then the prohibition amendment to the US Constitution was submitted to the Senate, and passed on September 1, 1917. The House approved the amendment and sent it to the states in December. The amendment banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquor “for beverage purposes” (without defining intoxicating” liquor), and although the states had seven years to ratify it, the required two-thirds threshold was met on January 16, 1919 when Nebraska became the thirty-sixth state to ratify it. The speed of its ratification surprised everyone, including ASL leaders. It took effect one year later.

The amendment required a federal statue to implement it, and ASL lobbyist Wayne Wheeler gave representative Andrew Volstead, a Minnesota Republican, the wording for the National Prohibition Act, and Congress passed the act over Woodrow Wilson’s veto on October 27, 1919. The “Volstead Act” used an IRS definition for “intoxicating beverages” that defined them as any beverage with more than .5 percent alcohol content. Further, it assigned enforcement of the law to the IRS, established usage guidelines for industrial alcohol, sacramental wine, and medicinal alcohol. The amendment also required each state to pass a law providing for enforcement of the amendment, making violation both a federal and state crime. Although every state except Maryland passed its own enforcement codes, actual state enforcement varied significantly. Eight states eventually rescinded their enforcement codes, while thirty-four states revised and strengthened their codes, but state resources and manpower seldom seemed sufficient.36

Temperance and ProhibitionClick to view larger

Figure 2.18th Amendment. Courtesy of National Archives.

Prohibition and the Transformation of a Movement and a Nation

The years of national prohibition, 1920–1933, witnessed yet another transformation of the nation’s organized temperance movement. The National Temperance Society and Publication House witnessed such extreme financial challenges that by 1917, to survive, it had entered into a special “federation” with the Commission on Temperance, an arm of the Federal Council of Churches, and it remained on life support until it folded in the 1940s.

The WCTU gained tens of thousands of new members in the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, and its membership peaked in 1923 at almost 500,000, including its youth auxiliary membership. During the 1920s WCTU members made their motto “Education for Enforcement” and proactively supported the work of Prohibition law enforcement officials. But by 1931 the groundswell of opposition to prohibition combined with the depression put the WCTU on the defensive. Its claim to represent the views of all American women on alcohol was greatly undermined in 1931 when the recently organized Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, which supported repeal, announced that its membership exceeded that of the WCTU. Although WCTU membership began a long slow decline, the organization still exists and still has foreign chapters. Ella A. Boole, president when the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed, captured the sentiment of WCTU women when she declared, “Repeal will not change the nature of alcohol.”37

Many members of the Prohibition Party celebrated the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment, but hardly any of them celebrated the process by which it was created. In fact, the Prohibition Party never officially endorsed the amendment. They rightly foresaw that the amendment did not have sufficient popular support to be effective but rather would breed a general contempt for the law. As one leader bemoaned, the real problem with the passage of the amendment was that the “great end” of any reform movement, the genuine “renovation of government,” had not occurred. The two-party system had made things so difficult for third parties that by 1924 Prohibitionists were only on the ballot in sixteen states. The dwindling and marginalized party has continued to nominate candidates for every presidential election into the 21st century. In the 2016 election it was on the ballot in at least three states.38

Prohibition Party leaders were right about the nature of this reform. Missouri Senator James Reed put it this way: “The legal revolution occurred but the moral miracle did not come off according to schedule.”39 Violations of prohibition were too numerous to track, and enforcing the law required substantial personnel commitments and challenged the traditional nature of federalism. Unfortunately for its supporters, Prohibition’s uneven enforcement fell heavily on non-white and lower income communities, with elites and the middle class seldom feeling the full force of the law when they violated it. These were years when Americans and their elected officials became fixated on the “crime waves” spreading across the nation and the general disregard for law they represented. One response was a revival of the KKK, as it sought to use its own racist form of vigilante justice to “assist” law enforcement. The press did not miss opportunities to sensationalize every crime story. Although the murder rate had already increased more than fourfold between 1900 and 1916, something seemed different about crime in the 1920s. Although violations of the Volstead Act were a major cause, the rise in automobile use also created new categories of crime, while the “red summer” of 1919 witnessed over thirty incidences of white mobs attacking blacks as well as labor unrest and strikes. After Prohibition commenced, it quickly became obvious that selling illegal liquor would be incredibly profitable. Now, the crime trends and law enforcement challenges that dry states experienced before the First World War were being realized on a national scale and called for a national response. By the mid-1920s the nation’s crime fighting apparatus was overwhelmed at every level—local, state, and federal. Prisons were overcrowded, courts were backlogged to a degree never seen before, bootleggers regularly bribed law enforcement personnel, and new constitutional and legal questions complicated court cases.

Prohibition thus “turned an entire industry over to criminal entrepreneurs”40 and enabled them to buy off not just police but also judges and elected officials, significantly undermining Americans’ confidence in their law enforcement system. This led several cities and states to establish crime “commissions” to study the problem and suggest solutions. In Herbert Hoover’s 1929 inaugural speech he called crime a national problem and quickly followed up by creating the National Commission on Law Observance and Enforcement (Wickersham Commission), chaired by a former attorney general, George Wickersham, and staffed by men with experience on the earlier city and state commissions. The commission published fourteen reports that laid the foundation for federal centralization of crime fighting for many years into the future. The Prohibition Bureau was housed in the Internal Revenue Service, and at Wayne Wheeler’s urging, its agents were not part of the Civil Service so he could control who was hired. When the agents were made to join the civil service later in the decade, about 40 percent could not pass the test. About one in twelve agents were accused of accepting bribes, and there were constant complaints about excessive use of force when bootleggers and still owners were killed and reportedly sometimes shot in the back. The violence employed to enforce prohibition became increasingly unpalatable to Americans.

The crime produced during Prohibition contributed to significant federal institutional developments. In 1924 the organization that would become the FBI began the practice of fingerprinting criminals, and in 1930 it began issuing the annual FBI Uniform Crime Report based on reports from local police departments. Serious prison overcrowding pushed the federal government to build new prisons and reorganize their administration in the Federal Bureau of Prisons that began issuing a yearly report on prisoners in state and federal prisons and reformatories. Because the court system became so backlogged with cases, the use of parole and plea bargaining became commonplace, and a Federal Parole Board was established. A 1922 law reorganized the federal judiciary, empowering the chief justice to make decisions to increase court efficiencies. New Supreme Court decisions permitted wiretapping of telephones, seizure of a vehicle if police had “reasonable and probable cause” for believing it contained bootleg liquor in transit, and allowed individuals to be prosecuted in both federal and state courts for the same crime, overturning the Fifth Amendment ban on double jeopardy.41

Finally, national alcohol prohibition paralleled a new “war” on narcotics and other banned substances. The 1922 Jones-Miller Act outlawed the import and export of opium, heroin, and other narcotics and established the Federal Narcotics Control Board. In 1923, Richmond Hobson, a former ASL lecturer once nicknamed the “father of Prohibition,” founded the International Narcotic Education Association to persuade people of the dangers of alcohol, opium, heroin, cocaine, and morphine and end their “traffic and use.” He gained support from pharmaceutical companies and later formed the World Narcotics Defense Association to end their global trade. When President Hoover created the Federal Narcotics Bureau in 1930, he appointed Henry Anslinger, former assistant commissioner of the Prohibition Bureau, to lead it. WCTU women had become enthusiastic supporters of the war on drugs by the 1930s. Put simply, all the negatives attributed to alcohol had been transferred to narcotics by the 1930s and this has continued into the 21st century. Historian Lisa McGirr notes, “The logic of alcohol Prohibition . . . hardened public opinion toward substances widely judged to be more addictive and harmful than liquor,” while political scientist James Morone maintains that prohibition “constructed institutional and legal precedents for almost every aspect of the war on drugs.”42

Opposition to this “noble experiment” was growing by the 1928 presidential election, and Al Smith, governor of New York, voiced the concerns of those wanting to revise the Volstead Act, if not rescind the Eighteenth Amendment altogether. Although Hoover easily won the election, Democratic Party leaders worked intentionally over the next four years to solidify their party as the party of repeal and to bring urban white ethnic voters who supported repeal into their coalition. Those efforts paid off in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 landslide victory, and they swept a Democratic majority into Congress rooted in a coalition that remained well into the late 20th century.43

After national prohibition began, the ASL experienced a significant drop in financial support, and its leadership began debating the best way to use their limited resources. Wayne Wheeler wanted to leverage the league’s political influence to support enforcement and use ASL literature to remind citizens to obey the law of the land. Until he died in 1927, he closely allied the league with Republicans, who were the majority party. Cherrington, on the other hand, wanted to launch an education campaign to convince Americans to embrace personal abstinence. But the ASL had never focused on personal drinking habits, and the approach fizzled. After the stock market crashed and depression spread, public opinion turned against the lackluster response of Hoover and the Republicans, while ASL claims that prohibition enforcement was the nation’s priority fell on deaf, even incredulous, ears.44

What H. L. Mencken had called the nation’s “Noble Experiment” collapsed with the 1932 national election that repudiated Hoover and the Republican approach to both the depression and prohibition. The lame duck Congress passed a repeal amendment that required special state ratification conventions; it was the only amendment to ever have such a requirement. Congress wanted to verify that popular sentiment supported the repeal of Prohibition. Even though the Eighteenth Amendment had been ratified faster than anyone expected between 1917 and 1919, its repeal, occurred even more rapidly. State conventions often supported repeal with lopsided votes in the range of 65 to 70 percent, and the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933.

Discussion of the Literature

Tracing the historiography of the temperance and prohibition movement is tricky because it was such a long lasting “event” and few scholars trace its 150-year history in a single study. Most historians examine a short chronological period in a particular place and draw conclusions that others then sometimes sloppily apply to the entire time period or different places. As with most areas of study, the quantity and quality of the scholarship is unevenly distributed over time and place. For example, there are more detailed studies of the antebellum movement and the post-1890 period than the years in between, and scholarship on the African American experience with the movement is relatively thin. As the above essay has demonstrated, what was true of the movement in the 1820s was not true of the movement in the 1840s, the 1880s, or the 1910s. In popular discourse there is more awareness of the post-1890 era than earlier years, and people tend to read the traits of that era back into the earlier years. Of course, region also plays a significant role in interpreting the movement, as New England, the South, and West had different experiences with temperance and prohibition, not to mention the rural-urban contrast. To further complicate matters, not just historians have written on the topic. Sociologists, political scientists, historians, economists, cultural studies scholars, literary scholars, legal scholars, and scholars of religion have all weighed in on either the movement or factors which are, practically speaking, inseparable from it, such as theology, social customs surrounding drinking, and legal and political processes. These factors need to be taken into consideration when assessing or comparing the claims authors make about the temperance and Prohibition movements. Two notable exceptions to the usually limited time frame used by temperance scholars are Lee L. Willis’s Southern Prohibition, Race, Reform, and Public Life in Middle Florida, 1821–1920 (2011) and Sabine N. Meyer’s We Are What We Drink: The Temperance Battle in Minnesota, (2015) which covers the years 1819–1919.

Temperance and prohibition scholarship has been guided by a series of questions: What kinds of rationales were articulated to justify abstinence, and to what extent did they reflect the actual lived reality of the reformers? How were these rationales conveyed? Who was likely to become an abstainer and why? Why did the idea gain popularity where and when it did? Why was the message largely rejected, when and where it was? How did different groups respond to the abstinence message? What rationales were used to defend prohibition? What methods were successfully used to implement prohibition? Why did those methods work for some time periods and places but not others? Why did many drinkers support Prohibition? How did class, race, gender, and ethnicity affect one’s response to the abstinence message and to the Prohibition message? What have been the lasting effects of the temperance movement, or Prohibition, on the United States? How effective was enforcement during Prohibition? Did Prohibition actually reduce the amount of drinking Americans did? Space constraints will permit only a limited exploration of the historiography on the above research questions.

One area where the scholarship is particularly thick is the antebellum era. Here the emphasis is mostly on the northeast region of the country, and scholars seek to explain why this unprecedented idea of abstinence became as popular as it did. The earliest academic attempts see the movement as closely tied to evangelical Christianity and the revivalism of the Second Great Awakening: The Origins of Prohibition (1925), The Antislavery Impulse, 1830–1844 (1933) and Freedom’s Ferment: Phases of American Social History to 1860 (1944). Although the sufficiency of this approach has been vigorously challenged over the years, scholars have continued to look closely at the relationship between the temperance movement and evangelical theology, revivalist practices, and republican ideology. Some of the more recent thoughtful scholarship in this area includes Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (1994), Bearing Witness against Sin: The Evangelical Birth of the American Social Movement (2006), “‘A Battle Not Man’s But God’s’: Origins of the American Temperance Crusade in the Struggle for Religious Authority,” by Laura A. Schmidt in Journal of Studies on Alcohol (January 1995), The Politics of Benevolence: Revival Religion and American Voting Behaviors (1979), “‘Drinks He to His Own Undoing’: Temperance Ideology in the Deep South,” by Douglas W. Carlson in Journal of the Early Republic (Winter 1998), and ‘A Most Stirring and Significant Episode’: Religion and the Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Black Atlanta, 1865–1887 (2013).

The first major challenge to the religious/ideological school came from sociologist Joseph Gusfield, in his frequently cited 1963 book Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement. Gusfield argued that drinking customs are social status markers and that the earliest temperance reformers perceived certain changes around them as threatening their status, so “in its earliest development, Temperance was one way in which a declining social elite tried to retain some of its social power and leadership.”45 Despite the popularity of Gusfield’s work, Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition, by William Rorabaugh, and 1970s works by Norman Clark and Jack S. Blocker Jr., have established that there was a significant increase in alcohol consumption in the early republic to which reformers were responding. Ronald G. Walters argued in American Reformers, 1815–1860 (1978) that evangelicals involved in the temperance movement were likely involved in other evangelical endeavors to improve society. They formed many Protestant voluntary associations with overlapping memberships that were products of their particular understanding of benevolence. These associations included, among others, the American Bible Society, American Tract Society, the American Sunday School Union, and the American Board for Commissioners of Foreign Missions. Walters called these organizations the evangelicals’ “benevolent empire.”46 Probably the dominant view today is that wherever market forces were strongest, workers, professionals, and entrepreneurs were likely to embrace the benefits of an abstinent lifestyle. Two books that clearly demonstrate the links between temperance and the developing market economy and middle-class values are Paul E. Johnson’s A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, NY, 1815–1837, 25th anniversary edition (2004), and Bruce E. Stewart’s Moonshiners and Prohibitionists: The Battle Over Alcohol in Southern Appalachia (2011). Three useful articles that highlight the intersection of temperance, the working class, and the market economy are: “The Working Classes and the Temperance Movement in Ante-Bellum Boston,” by Jill Siegel Dodd, Labor History (Fall 1978), “The Shuttle and the Cross: Weavers and Artisans in the Kensington Riots of 1844,” by David Montgomery, Journal of Social History (1972), and “Cultural Aspects of the Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, Shoemakers and Industrial Morality, 1826–1860,” by Paul Fahler, Labor History (Summer 1974).

There are certain state or local studies that have become classics in the field for the clarity with which they address some of the questions listed above. Some of these are Paul E. Isaac’s Prohibition and Politics: Turbulent Decades in Tennessee, 1885–1920, Jed Dannenbaum’s Drink and Disorder: Temperance Reform in Cincinnati from the Washingtonian Revival to the WCTU, Larry Engelmann’s Intemperance: The Lost War Against Liquor (Michigan), and Robert L. Hempel’s Temperance and Prohibition in Massachusetts, 1813–1852. A recent book of this caliber is Sabine N. Meyer’s We Are What We Drink: The Temperance Battle in Minnesota, which pays special attention to German and Irish Americans and women.

Some recent scholars of Prohibition have been exploring the long-term impact of Prohibition on the US government and society. Scholars have found the genesis of an increasing array of modern social, political, and economic practices, patterns, and assumptions in this era, which are rooted in patterns of law breaking, law evading, or law enforcement under prohibition. Current social customs about drinking, the relationship between the police and minorities, how the government treated criminals, and the marketing of soft drinks, among other things, were all informed by Prohibition. Three excellent works that explore the long-term impact of Prohibition on the federal government are James Morone’s Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History (2003), Lisa McGirr’s The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State (2016), and Daniel Okrent’s Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (2010).

Primary Sources

Probably the single largest primary source collection on this topic is the 424 microfilm reels of the “Temperance and Prohibition Papers, 1830-1933.” The items in this collection are held by the Ohio Historical Society, Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Michigan Historical Collections, and the Westerville Public Library. The collection contains the records of many organizations, including the Prohibition Party, WCTU, Ohio Anti-Saloon League, Scientific Temperance Federation, and the Anti-Saloon League of America. It also contains the papers of Ernest Cherrington, Howard Russell, Francis McBride, and Thomas Steuart. It includes the WCTU’s Union Signal and the ASL’s American Issue. Be aware that the American Issue was first published monthly, then weekly; after that, various state leagues issued their own edition. There is a useful printed finding aid that is absolutely essential for browsing this collection. The entire collection is held by the University of Michigan, the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society), and Harvard University.

The temperance related materials held at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building of the New York Public Library are quite possibly the most extensive found anywhere. A subject search for “temperance” in the NYPL online catalog yields 573 separate subject categories, and each category lists between one and 1,678 separate items. It is the best location to find any publication of the National Temperance Society & Publication House. It holds the complete run of the National Temperance Advocate. The library also holds Voice and the New Voice, official organs of the Prohibition Party, the annual reports of the American Tract Society, and many of their tracts. They published much in support of temperance.

Some other libraries with extensive temperance and alcohol-related collections are the American Antiquarian Society and Brown University. A subject search for “temperance” in the Antiquarian Society’s catalogue yields 1,308 items, while a keyword search reveals 4,069 results. Brown University houses the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies and the Chester H. Kirk Collection on Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous, some of which is digitized on the Internet.

The first three annual reports of American Temperance Society are extant and individually available. Permanent Temperance Documents, Volume 1, contains annual reports 4–9 of the American Temperance Society, and Volumes 2 and 3 contain all the annual reports of the American Temperance Union. They are also microfilmed and located in many libraries. The Journal of Humanity and Herald of the American Temperance Society and the Journal of the American Temperance Union are both available on microfilm.

The Frances Willard Memorial Library and Archives (Evanston, IL) hold copies of the WCTU’s first newspaper, Our Union, plus Frances Willard’s Papers, which include her speeches, photos, eighty scrapbooks of temperance-related newspaper clippings, and many more items. Visits are by appointment only.

The records of the National Temperance Society and Publication House are held at the Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia).

The Proceedings of the ten National Temperance Conventions held between 1833 and 1904 are also extant as are the annual Anti-Saloon League yearbooks, produced by Ernest Cherrington between 1909 and 1932, which are useful compendiums of Prohibition-related statistics and developments. Ernest Cherrington’s six-volume Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem, published between 1924 and 1930, is valuable for information on topics not covered in detail by more recent writers.

At the Rockefeller Archive Center (Tarrytown, NY) one can research the temperance-related philanthropy of the Rockefeller family members. Syracuse University holds the papers of Gerrit Smith, a philanthropist and active member of the New York Temperance Society and speaker at the 1833 National Temperance Convention. The Guy Hayler Collection (or “Temperance Collection”) at the University of Wisconsin contains many microfilmed American and British temperance tracts.

The temperance activities and positions of church groups are scattered throughout their various periodicals and annual conference, convention, or association reports. Most church bodies had standing temperance committees that regularly approved resolutions from the late 1870s through the 1930s. Also, individual church congregations report church activities regarding temperance and disciplining of members for drunkenness. Some repositories include the American Baptist Historical Society (Atlanta, GA), Presbyterian Historical Society (Philadelphia), Southern Baptist Historical Society and Library (Louisville, KY), United Methodist Church General Commission on Archives and History (Madison, NJ), and the Congregational Library (Boston). The records of Georgia’s African American Baptist associations and conventions are held by Mercer University’s Jack Tarver Library. The annual reports and monthly publications of the various home and foreign missionary societies also contain much useful information about their missionaries’ temperance activities.

Newspapers and magazines are a treasure trove of articles reporting on local option elections, temperance speeches, and activities of temperance societies. One should search whatever newspaper databases they have access to, using a variety of terms, such as: temperance, prohibition, alcohol, liquor traffic, and the names of various organizations and temperance speakers.

The Wickersham Commission Records are held at the Harvard Law School and the Richmond P. Hobson Papers are at the Library of Congress. The National Archives holds the records of the Bureau of Prohibition under the General Records of the Department of the Treasury.

Further Reading

Blocker, Jack S. Jr.American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989.Find this resource:

Coker, Joe L.Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause: Southern White Evangelicals and the Prohibition Movement. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007.Find this resource:

Dannenbaum, Jed. Drink and Disorder: Temperance Reform in Cincinnati from the Washingtonian Revival to the WCTU. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984.Find this resource:

Kerr, K. Austin. Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Kyvig, David E.Repealing National Prohibition. 2d ed. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Lewis, Michael. The Coming of Southern Prohibition: The Dispensary System and the Battle Over Liquor in South Carolina, 1907–1915. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Martin, Scott C.Devil of the Domestic Sphere: Temperance, Gender, and Middle-Class Ideology, 1800–1860. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

McGirr, Lisa. The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016.Find this resource:

Meyer, Sabine N.We Are What We Drink: The Temperance Battle in Minnesota. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Mintz, Steven. Moralists & Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Pegram, Thomas R.Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800–1933. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998.Find this resource:

Rorabaugh, W. J.The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.Find this resource:

Tyrrell, Ian R.Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800–1860. Westwood: Greenwood Pres, 1979.Find this resource:

Willis, Lee L.Southern Prohibition: Race, Reform, and Public Life in Middle Florida, 1821–1920. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2011.Find this resource:


(1.) Jack S. Blocker Jr.American Temperance Movements: Cycles of Reform (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989), 3.

(2.) William Rorabaugh, Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 7–10.

(3.) Blocker, 8–10; Thomas R. Pegram, Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800–1933 (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1998), 9–13; William J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979); Steven Mintz, Moralists & Modernizers: America’s Pre-Civil War Reformers (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), chapter 1; Ian R. Tyrrell, Sobering Up: From Temperance to Prohibition in Antebellum America, 1800–1860 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979), chapter 1; Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking in America: A History, rev. ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1987), chapter 1; and Sarah Hand Meacham, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

(4.) Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), chapter 1; and John Allen Krout, The Origins of Prohibition (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1925), chapter 4.

(5.) H. Paul Thompson Jr., “A Most Stirring and Significant Episode”: Religion and the Rise and Fall of Prohibition in Black Atlanta, 1865–1887 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2013), 18–19; Abzug, chapter 2; Allan M. Winkler, “Lyman Beecher and the Temperance Crusade,” Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 33 (1972): 939–957; Blocker, 22–24; and Krout, 155–168.

(6.) William Gribbin, “Republicanism, Reform, and the Sense of Sin in Ante Bellum America,” Cithara 14 (1974): 25–41; Heman Humphrey, The Way to Bless and Save Our Country: A Sermon (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1831); Albert Barnes, The Connexion of Temperance with Republican Freedom (Philadelphia: Boyle and Benedict, 1835); E. N. Kirk, The Temperance Reformation Connected with the Revival of Religion and the Introduction of the Millennium (London: J. Pasco, 1838); Lender and Martin, 35–40, 79–85; John Quist, Restless Visionaries: The Social Roots of Antebellum Reform in Alabama and Michigan (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998), 164; and Charles C. Cole, The Social Ideas of the Northern Evangelists, 1826–1860 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1954).

(7.) Blocker, 17–19; Krout, chapter 10; David Montgomery, “The Shuttle and the Cross: Weavers and Artisans in the Kensington Riots of 1844,” Journal of Social History 5 (1972): 411–446; and Thomas S. Grimké, Address on the Patriot Character of the Temperance Reformation (Charleston, SC: Observer Office, 1833).

(8.) Scott C. Martin, Devil of the Domestic Sphere: Temperance, Gender, and Middle-class Ideology 1800–1860 (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008).

(9.) Thompson, 124–129; Donald Yacovone, “The Transformation of the Black Temperance Movement, 1827–1854: An Interpretation,” Journal of the Early Republic 8 (Fall 1988): 281–297; and Denise Herd, “The Paradox of Temperance: Blacks and the Alcohol Question in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Drinking: Behavior and Belief in Modern History, eds. Susanna Barrows and Robin Room (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991), 354–375.

(10.) James R. Rohrer, “The Origins of the Temperance Movement: A Reinterpretation,” Journal of American Studies 24 (August 1990): 228–335.

(11.) Blocker, 12–15, 21–25; Michael P. Young, Bearing Witness against Sin: The Evangelical Birth of the American Social Movement (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006); Stephen Wills Murphy, “‘It is a Sacred Duty to Abstain’: The Organizational, Biblical, Theological, and Practical Roots of the American Temperance Society, 1814–1830” (PhD diss., University of Virginia, 2008); and Paul R. Meyer, “The Transformation of American Temperance: The Popularization and Radicalization of a Reform Movement, 1813–1860” (PhD diss., University of Iowa, 1976), chapter 3.

(12.) Thompson, 21–41; Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeeper’s Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, N.Y., 1815–1837, 25th anniversary edition (New York: Hill and Wang, 2004); Asahel Nettleton, Temperance and Revivals (New York: National Temperance Society and Publication House, n.d.); Krout, chapter 6; Raymond Pierce Cowan, “From ‘Noble Cordial’ to Sin: Early American Methodists Confront Alcohol,” Atlanta History 38 (Winter 1995): 5–19; Henry Wheeler, Methodism and the Temperance Reformation (Cincinnati: Walden and Stowe, 1882), 45–100; and John Lee Eighmy, Churches in Cultural Captivity: A History of the Social Attitudes of Southern Baptists (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1987), 50.

(13.) Krout, chapter 9; Tyrrell, chapter 7; and Blocker, 39–47.

(14.) Blocker, 48–51; Thompson, 141–151; David M. Fahey, Temperance and Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996); David M. Fahey, “How the Good Templars Began: Fraternal Temperance in New York State,” Social History of Alcohol Review 38–39 (1999): 17–27; Lynn Dumenil, Freemasonry and American Culture, 1880–1930 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984), 75–80; and Jed Dannenbaum, Drink and Disorder: Temperance Reform in Cincinnati from the Washingtonian Revival to the WCTU (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), chapter 2.

(15.) Thompson, 20.

(16.) Pegram, 31–42; Tyrrell, chapter 9; Douglas W. Carlson, “Temperance Reform in the Cotton Kingdom” (PhD diss., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982): Joe L. Coker, Liquor in the Land of the Lost Cause: Southern White Evangelicals and the Prohibition Movement (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007), 25–32; Dannenbaum, chapters 3 and 4; Ian Tyrrell, “Drink and Temperance in the Antebellum South: An Overview and Interpretation,” Journal of Southern History 48 (November 1982): 485–510; and Allen P. Tankersley, “Basil Hallam Overby: Champion of Prohibition in Ante Bellum Georgia,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 31 (March 1947): 1–18.

(17.) Graham Warder, “Selling Sobriety: How Temperance Reshaped Culture in Antebellum America” (PhD diss., University of Massachusetts-Amherst, 2000), chapter 1.

(18.) Warder, chapters 2–5; John B. Gough, An Autobiography (Boston: the author, 1845); David S. Reynolds and Debra J. Rosenthal, eds., The Serpent in the Cup: Temperance in American Literature (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1997); Robert S. Levine, “Disturbing Boundaries: Temperance, Black Elevation, and Violence in Frank J. Webb’s The Garies and Their Friends,” Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies 19 (1994): 349–374; and Shelley Block, “A Revolutionary Aim: The Rhetoric of Temperance in the Anglo-African Magazine,” American Periodicals 12 (2002): 9–24.

(19.) Warder, chapters 6 and 7; William Gleason, “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and the Visual Culture of Temperance,” in Must Read: Rediscovering American Bestsellers, eds. Sarah Churchwell and Thomas Ruys Smith, 101–130 (New York: Continuum, 2012).

(20.) William M. Robinson Jr., “Prohibition in the Confederacy,” American Historical Review 37 (October 1931): 50–58.

(21.) Pegram, 45–46; and Richard C. Lancaster, Serving the U.S. Armed Forces, 1861–1986: The Story of the YMCA’s Ministry to Military Personnel for 125 years (Schaumburg, IL: Armed Forces YMCA of the USA, 1987).

(22.) Edwin B. Lufkin, History of the 13th Maine Regiment from its organization in 1861 to its muster-out in 1865 (Bridgton, ME: H. A. Shorey, 1898); and Norman H. Clark, Deliver Us from Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1976), 4.

(23.) Blocker, 73.

(24.) Thompson, 99–107.

(25.) Blocker, 86–87; David Leigh Colvin, Prohibition in the United States: A History of the Prohibition Party and of the Prohibition Movement (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1926); and Lisa M. F. Andersen, The Politics of Prohibition: American Governance and the Prohibition Party, 1869–1933 (New York: University of Cambridge Press, 2013).

(26.) Jack S. Blocker Jr., “Give to the Winds Thy Fears”: The Women’s Temperance Crusade, 1873–1874 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1985); Jed Dannenbaum, “The Origins of Temperance Activism and Militancy Among American Women,” Journal of Social History 15.2 (Winter 1981): 235–252; Frances Willard, Woman and Temperance, or, The Work and Workers of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (Hartford: Park Publishing, 1883); Ruth Bordin, Woman and Temperance: The Quest for Power and Liberty, 1873–1900 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1981); Edward J. Blum, Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865–1898 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005), chapter 6; Ruth Bordin, Frances Willard: A Biography (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1986); James Ross Turner, “The American Prohibition Movement, 1865–1897” (PhD diss., University of Wisconsin, 1972); and Jonathan Zimmerman, Distilling Democracy: Alcohol Education in America’s Public Schools, 1880–1925 (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1999): Thompson, 99–116.

(27.) Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 86–89; John M. Palmer, “An Apology for Party Prohibition,” AME Church Review 4 (October 1887): 136–153; and J. Sampson, “The Prohibition Party,” AME Church Review 4 (July 1887): 506–507.

(28.) Rufus B. Spain, At Ease in Zion: A Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865–1900 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2003); Ted Ownby, Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, & Manhood in the Rural South, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990); Paul Harvey, Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities among Southern Baptists, 1865–1925 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Hunter Dickinson Farish, The Circuit Rider Dismounts: A Social History of Southern Methodism, 1865–1900 (Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, 1938); and Thompson, 75–81, 129–138.

(29.) Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 89–90; Thompson, 155–248; Paul E. Isaac, Prohibition and Politics: Turbulent Decades in Tennessee, 1885–1920 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1965); James D. Ivy, No Saloon in the Valley: The Southern Strategy of Texas Prohibitionists in the 1880s (Waco: Baylor University press, 2003); John Hammond Moore, “The Negro and Prohibition in Atlanta, 1885–1887” South Atlantic Quarterly 69 (Winter 1970): 38–57; and Gregg Cantrell, “Dark Tactics’: Black Politics in the 1887 Texas Prohibition Campaign,” Journal of American Studies 25 (1991): 85–93.

(30.) Michael A. Homan and Mark A. Gstohl, “Jesus the Teetotaler: How Dr. Welch put the Lord on the Wagon,” Bible Review (April 2002), 28–29. Retrieved from

(31.) Jack S. Blocker Jr., Retreat from Reform: The Prohibition Movement in the United States, 1890–1913 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976).

(32.) Perry R. Duis, The Saloon: Public Drinking in Chicago and Boston, 1880–1920 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983); Madelon Powers, Faces Along the Bar: Lore and Order in the Workingman’s Saloon, 1870–1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998); and Roy Rosenzweig, Eight Hours for What We Will: Workers and Leisure in an Industrial City, 1870–1920 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

(33.) James A. Morone, Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), chapter 10; and Lisa McGirr, The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016), chapter 1.

(34.) Coker, chapter 6; Denise A. Herd, “Prohibition, Racism and Class Politics in the Post-Reconstruction South,” Journal of Drug Issues 13 (1983): 77–94; Haynes Walton Jr., “Another Force for Disfranchisement: Blacks and the Prohibitionists in Tennessee,” Journal of Human Relations 18 (1970): 728–738; Haynes Walton Jr. and James E. Taylor, “Blacks and the Southern Prohibition Movement,” Phylon 32 (1972): 247–259; Dewey Grantham, Southern Progressivism: The Reconciliation of Progress and Tradition (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1983); Jack Temple Kirby, Darkness at the Dawning: Race and Reform in the Progressive South (Philadelphia: J. P. Lippincott & Co., 1972); and William A. Link, The Paradox of Southern Progressivism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), chapters 2 and 4.

(35.) Blocker, American Temperance Movement, 112–113; and Lisa McGirr, chapter 1.

(36.) Pegram, 109–165; Peter H. Odegard, Pressure Politics: The Story of the Anti-Saloon League (New York: Columbia University Press, 1928); K. Austin Kerr, Organized for Prohibition: A New History of the Anti-Saloon League (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985); James H. Timberlake, Prohibition and The Progressive Movement, 1900–1920 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963), chapter 5; and McGirr,chapter 1.

(37.) McGirr, 125–129; Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 122–123;; Catherine Gilbert Mudock, Domesticating Drink: Women, Men, and Alcohol in America, 1870–1940 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), chapter 6; and David E. Kyvig, Repealing National Prohibition, 2d ed. (Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 2000).

(38.) Andersen, chapter 7;

(39.) Morone, 328.

(40.) McGirr, 196.

(41.) McGirr, chapter 7.

(42.) McGirr, 212; and Morone, 343.

(43.) McGirr, chapters 3, 5, 6, 7; Morone, chapter 11; Daniel Okrent, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition (New York: Scribner, 2010), chapters 16 and 17. For an example of problems under state prohibition before national prohibition, see Adam Krakowski, Vermont Prohibition: Teetotalers, Bootleggers and Corruption (Charleston, SC: The American Palate, 2016).

(44.) Blocker, American Temperance Movements, 119–127; Kerr, chapter 9; and Pegram, chapter 7.

(45.) Joseph Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1963), 5.

(46.) Ronald G. Walters, American Reformers, 1815–1860, rev. ed. (New York: Hill and Wang, 1997), 31–33.