Relics of Temperance

It is said that in America, prior to the Revolution and prior to urbanization, alcohol consumption, as a general rule, was kept to what was then considered acceptable levels through informal social control in the home and in the community. After the Revolution and urbanization the country saw an increase in poverty, unemployment, and crime, much of which was blamed on the relaxation of social control over alcohol, and the corresponding rise of drunkenness. In hopes of reasserting that social control over the “demon rum” temperance societies began popping up across the Northeast. By 1830 there were 2,220 such temperance societies in the United States, each wielding an arsenal of tracts, leaflets, broadsides, pledges, songs, plays, and illustrations meant to scare, guilt, and bully men back into sobriety…. and that’s a lot of printed matter.

12.17. filed under: art. belief. design. history.

“And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

What a shrewd bit of logical deduction.

posted on 12.17 at 09:41 PM.

Reminded of the old Tom Waits “frontal lobotomy” quote. (Video is longish at almost six minutes, but still — a funny bit.)


posted on 12.18 at 01:16 AM.

I really like the Whisky Dragons picture, and that Facing the Enemy print.

And looking at the Four Stages of the Downward Course: are we to conclude that tobacco was considered a gateway drug that led to alcohol?

posted on 12.18 at 06:58 AM.

Absolutely fantastic post! Excellent collection of imagery, links and article. A great return. Thanks!

posted on 12.18 at 01:07 PMJackDirt

Amazing stuff. I like the Whisky Dragons also. Here’s another Tom Waits quote: “Champagne to my real friends, real pain to my sham friends.”
And that epilogue was brilliant. Hawhawhaw!

posted on 12.18 at 07:49 PM.

“Sham friends” - I’m not sure who said it first (google and wikiquote just give me lots of Tom Waits and Fall Out Boy links), but Francis Bacon definitely used it in the 1950s - anyone know its real origin?

posted on 12.19 at 05:23 AMsimon

1950’s? Methinks thou dost mean the 1590’s.

posted on 12.19 at 08:09 AM.

due to temperance, I wish to say hello
sometimes I wish I could say more…
as a recent researcher into the 1800’s, I can say they viewed it as quite a sin.  i am still forming my opinion.
I think we need it, the temperance.

Ciao, Still reading, K

posted on 12.22 at 06:48 AM.

Tom - I meant Bacon the painter, not the playwrite…

posted on 01.04 at 10:26 AMsimon

Mmmmmmm… bacon.

posted on 01.04 at 06:28 PM.

Oh, man, alcohol consumption in the US was never at the level it is in Russia now.. lucky you!

posted on 02.08 at 11:42 AMNews Blogger

Hello. My name is Tom. I am addicted to life and building up a tolerance to life (needing more and more life to achieve the desired effect), losing control at some points and being unable to stop my life-long habit, needing life to feel normal, needing life to cope with life on a daily basis.

posted on 06.11 at 09:44 PM.

Hi. I very like the Whisky Dragons pictures. Wine + rum = headaches. ;-)

posted on 07.20 at 04:27 AMmike


posted on 07.31 at 10:40 AM.

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