temperance movements

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temperance movements,

organized efforts to induce people to abstain—partially or completely—from alcoholic beverages. Such movements occurred in ancient times, but ceased until the wide use of distilled liquors in the modern period resulted in increasing drunkenness. The stirrings of temperance activity began in the 19th cent. in the United States, Great Britain, and the countries of N Europe, where drinking had greatly increased. Relying on personal appeal, such individuals as Father Theobald MathewMathew, Theobald,
1790–1856, Irish social worker and temperance leader, a Capuchin priest. Father Mathew spent many years working for the welfare and education of the poor.
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 in Ireland and Great Britain and John Bartholomew Gough in the United States secured temperance pledges by preaching that moral degradation, ill health, poverty, and crime were the results of alcoholism. In 1808 a temperance group was formed in Saratoga, N.Y., and in the next few decades societies sprang up in other states and in the British Isles, Norway, and Sweden. International cooperation was begun in the latter half of the 19th cent., one of the most effective groups being the Woman's Christian Temperance UnionWoman's Christian Temperance Union
(WCTU), organization that seeks to upgrade moral life, especially through abstinence from alcohol. The National WCTU of the United States was founded (1874) in Cleveland, Ohio, as a result of the Woman's Temperance Crusade that spread through
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 (WCTU), founded in 1874 in the United States. The WCTU and the strong Anti-Saloon LeagueAnti-Saloon League,
U.S. organization working for prohibition of the sale of alcoholic liquors. Founded in 1893 as the Ohio Anti-Saloon League at Oberlin, Ohio, by representatives of temperance societies and evangelical Protestant churches, it came to wield great political
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 (founded in 1895 and now known as the American Council on Alcohol Problems) wielded significant political power in the United States and, turning from moral appeals for moderation and abstinence, demanded government control of liquor. Backed by church groups and some industrialists, they influenced the passage of many liquor lawsliquor laws,
legislation designed to restrict, regulate, or totally abolish the manufacture, sale, and use of alcoholic beverages. The passage of liquor laws has been prompted chiefly by the desire to prevent immoderate use of intoxicants, but sometimes also by the need to raise
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 and eventually succeeded in securing federal prohibitionprohibition,
legal prevention of the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages, the extreme of the regulatory liquor laws. The modern movement for prohibition had its main growth in the United States and developed largely as a result of the agitation of
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 (1919–33). Among the outstanding women temperance workers of the period were Frances Elizabeth WillardWillard, Frances Elizabeth,
1839–98, American temperance leader and reformer, b. Churchville, N.Y., grad. Northwestern Female College, 1859. She was president of Evanston College for Ladies and dean of women at Northwestern Univ.
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, Susan B. AnthonyAnthony, Susan Brownell,
1820–1906, American reformer and leader of the woman-suffrage movement, b. Adams, Mass.; daughter of Daniel Anthony, Quaker abolitionist. From the age of 17, when she was a teacher in rural New York state, she agitated for equal pay for women
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, and Carry NationNation, Carry Moore,
1846–1911, American temperance advocate, b. Garrard co., Ky. During her childhood her family moved a great deal, finally settling at Belton, Mo., where she married (1867) Charles Gloyd, a physician.
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. Among the effects of temperance agitation were the stimulation of interest in the scientific study of alcoholismalcoholism,
disease characterized by impaired control over the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcoholism is a serious problem worldwide; in the United States the wide availability of alcoholic beverages makes alcohol the most accessible drug, and alcoholism is the most
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, general instruction in the schools on the effects of alcohol, and government regulation. Unlike later temperance movements, such as Alcoholics AnonymousAlcoholics Anonymous
(AA), worldwide organization dedicated to the treatment of alcoholics; founded 1935 by two alcoholics, one a New York broker, the other an Ohio physician. They developed a 12-step program that has made coping with alcoholism possible for countless people.
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, these earlier movements did not view alcoholism as a disease and relied on government regulation and suppression of the liquor business to control the problem.


See J. A. Krout, The Origins of Prohibition (1925); H. Asbury, The Great Illusion (1950); J. R. Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement (1963); J. H. Bechtel, Temperance Selections (1893, repr. 1970); N. H. Clark, Deliver Us from Evil (1976).

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