This might be an odd place to start a blog. I don’t care. I started watching the Ken Burn’s PBS Prohibition a few nights ago and a friend (Hey, Jill!) told me that she’d be excited to read what I thought.
Physicians used to recommend whiskey and cider and rum and beer as “far better than water hauled from muddy rivers and stagnant pools”…and they probably weren’t wrong. It took us a while to get clean water all figured out. We drank all the time and had a daily bell for “grog time” and celebrated everything with it, including public hangings.We celebrated public hanging. Yup.
In the 1800’s our distilled spirits got stronger and more readily available. WATCH THE FUCK OUT. Soon we as a nation were drunk AF.
Women, who depended on the men in their lives for an income, had no means fight this. There was no way out of bad marriage or way to take control of money or their own bodies. Men were drunk AF and women were just kinda fucked.
In the documentary, we’re still talking about white women. Drinking must have adversely affected free black women in the north but there’ not mention of it. One black man, Fredrick Douglas, has been quoted in the documentary as saying “Whiskey makes me feel like a president.” but he’ll soon join the Temperance & Abolitionist side of things. His hair looks great. When he joins the Temperance side of things we’ll get a second quote, his hair will be silver and it will still look great.
A few white Protestant men get together and create the Washingtonian Society. It’s men helping other men sign pledges and get sober. No church involved so clergy men are PISSED by the idea of men helping men without a kickback to God, so >they< get involved to clean the country of sin. Abolitionists join in and there are groups where Temperance and Abolitionists interests co-exist and overlap… but they’re about to be busy elsewhere.
America starts modest with the idea of temperance, but we’re Americans. We can’t help ourselves when we’re “helping ourselves”. Soon we’re over doing it. Did we say moderate intake? NOW its TOTAL Abstinence for all! Groups beget groups beget more off shoots and some groups make uniforms and special vests. We make our kids pledge and wear stupid sashes! Some groups form separate groups for Black Americans. Fredrick Douglas gets involved now with the temperance folks who cross over with abolitionists. This is pretty much the last we hear about black men and women in part one.
And there are WOMEN.
Women who’ve had no power are now getting involved in auxiliary organization. They’ve got a major stake in this and they have more time to organize (if their children are grown).
These women start getting pissed about how women are doing more of the organizing but not getting a voice in these groups. Susan B Anthony starts her own ALL WOMEN group.
I must interject, all WHITE protestant woman of a certain level of social class. Susan B. and Elizabeth Cady didn’t mean ALL women.