New Hampshire Glossary: Temperance

Temperance is defined as having control over ones own actions. 

From a historical perspective, temperance usually refers to not drinking alcohol.  In colonial America, the writings of Dr. Benjamin Rush, around 1784 that drinking too much alcohol injured one's physical and mental health, began to change people's ideas.  Dr. Rush never suggested complete prohibition of alcohol, but rather drinking in moderation. For those who chose to ignore Dr. Rush's advice, there was always the fear of spontaneous combustion that was said to plague drunkards.

By 1789 about 200 farmers in Connecticut formed a “temperance association.” Other groups in various states soon formed. In 1826 the American Temperance Society was formed. These groups promoted complete abstinence. The temperance movement in the United States appears to have been the impetus for a similar movement in Europe.

Temperance was good for business–especially for writers and publishers.  Hundreds of temperance magazines and newspapers sprang up.  Those who produced alternatives to alcohol, such as C.E. Hires root beer, also benefited.

Soon Temperance became a political issue. In 1842 Franklin Pierce, later U.S. President, helped to conduct a temperance drive in Concord NH, resulting in a “dry” town. Maine was the first state (1851) to pass a temperance law. By 1855 twelves additional states, including New Hampshire had created temperance laws (i.e. they were “dry states.”).

Eventually the idea of, and laws for temperance were given up, and three states, South Carolina, Vermont and New Hampshire repealed Prohibition little more than ten years after the end of the movement. National prohibition of alcohol began in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment. Eventually the public's desire to restrict the sale of alcohol lessened and in 1933 the amendment was repealed.


*Additional Reading*

Ardent Spirits

Brewing in New Hampshire

-The Temperance Tavern of Gilmanton New Hampshire-
(They serve alcohol!)

Sons of Temperance

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2 Responses to New Hampshire Glossary: Temperance

  1. Daniel says:

    Temperance movement, was a Church and woman movement and it was world wide it started in USA 1700s Dr LYMAN BEECHER wrote six sermons on intemperance in 1826 published by the AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY

  2. Pingback: Official New Hampshire State Beverage: Apple Cider | Cow Hampshire

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