The Temperance Movement Essay Research Paper As

The Temperance Movement Essay, Research Paper As the 1800’s came to a close the calendar was not the only thing which was changing. The tirn of the century also saw a radical

The Temperance Movement Essay, Research Paper

As the 1800’s came to a close the calendar was not the only

thing which was changing. The tirn of the century also saw a radical

change in the ways in which Americans conducted their lives. No more

were people’s lives based around farms in small rural neighborhoods.

Instead people moved into the cities, and factories started sprouting

up in every major urban area. However, the industrialization of

America also brought with it problems which hurt many Americans. The

People most hurt by these new problems called themselves the

Progressives. This new political group tried to “recapture” America by

attacking a myriad of political issues. These issues differed in

almost every facet, however the Progressives felt that America needed

a complete overhaul in its way of thinking. Thus the progressive

movement burst onto the stage of American politics.

One of the issues which the Progressives felt most strongly

about was the anti-alcohol, or Temperance movement. From the turn of

the century, until the early twenties, organizations made the issue of

prohibition a national issue. This effort culminated with the passage

of the eighteenth amendment banning the sale, or consumption of

alcohol anywhere in the US. Prohibitionists, like the Anti-Saloon

League, achieved their goals because of their group tactics, their

social makeup and composition, and the relative success of the

Progressive movement as an entity. The prohibitionists seized on many

tactics in order to have alcohol banned. It is important to see what

these tactics were, where they came from, and how the prohibitionists

were able to get the American public to buy into them.

In order to get their point across prohibitionists needed to

prove the inherent evils which were presented by the consumption of

alcohol. As pointed out by Document C, groups like the American

Medical Association, along with other members of the educated public,

joined forces in order to fight the evils which alcohol presented.

These people, along with businessmen, tried to explain how alcohol

violated the theories of proper social life (Document E). Other groups

tried to show how alcohol would ruin the American way of life. As

pointed out in Documents R and S, women were demeaned by the

consumption of alcohol, and it threatened to destroy the family

structure. Documents A and B used threatening tactics in order to show

the destruction which alcohol brought to the American family, and

Document D showed how the social status of women would be destroyed

by alcohol.

Religion also played a big role in the push for temperance. In

Documents A and I people tried to show how God looked down on the

consumption of alcohol. These people claimed to be working for the

“common good” of mankind (Document S). Many people, however were more

concerned with political gain, than with the pursuit of public

morality. Document N shows how the liquor lobby was one of the

strongest lobbying groups of its time. These people worked hard to try

and influence legislation. One of the reasons they were able to have

such an effect was because of their superior organizational skills.

They therefore, according to Document O, were able to bring an

important message to the people with virtual ease. They portrayed

non-prohibitionists as evil people who did not deserve many rights,

and they tried to remove “Saloon domination” in matters of legislation

(Document G).

Along with the arguments prohibitionists used, it is also

interesting to note why certain groups distinguished themselves as the

driving forces towards temperance. Women were the major force behind

the temperance movement. The reason for this was because they were

afraid of the abuse, disease, and poverty which was brought on by

alcohol. Women were looking to preserve the purity of the American

family, and therefore were very involved in influencing legislation.

In fact, as pointed out by Document Q, the Women’s Christian

Temperance Union was the largest such movement in the country. Along

with the women, religious groups were very involved in the Temperance

movement. As illustrated by Documents J, L, and Q the Church fought

many immoral activities, which included the consumption of alcohol. In

fact, Document I includes the writings of a minister who said that the

only people who will be worthy of going to heaven will be the sober

Anglo-Saxons. Businessmen were also very involved in the Temperance

movement; they even represented up to forty percent of the entire

movement. As Documents J and P point out these wealthy businessmen

were afraid of the alcohol’s effect on the workforce. One interesting

fact about the makeup of the prohibitionists was there geographical

locations. Although most alcoholism was in the cities, three fifths of

the prohibitionists were from more rural areas, as pointed out by

Documents K and L. In fact, this has lead many to believe that the

majority of prohibitionists were actually the social elite, who wished

to become society’s guardians in order to achieve self-gratifying

goals (Documents E, and H).

As history has shown the Temperance movement was a total

disaster. “Bootleggers” brought alcohol over from Canada, and many

people became quite proficient in developing home made brews. However,

it was process which helped shape America. For the first time women

became very active in influencing legislation, and the democratic

process. More importantly, however, were the gains made by the

Progressives. They proved that they were able to unite, on a national

level, to get major legislation passed. This talent enabled the

Progressives to remain a major player n the American Political scene

well into the twentieth century.