Booze, Freedom

25 Historical Facts about Booze and Boozing

0 Comments 25 November 2012

Puritans to Prohibition

Written and edited by Prof. David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

1. The Puritans loaded more beer than water onto the Mayflower before they cast off for the New World. [1]

2. While there wasn’t any cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin pie to eat at the first Thanksgiving, there was beer, brandy, gin, and wine to drink. [1.1]

3. A brewery was one of Harvard College’s first construction projects so that a steady supply of beer could be served in the student dining halls. [2]

4. The early colonialists made alcohol beverages from, among other things, carrots, tomatoes, onions, beets, celery, squash, corn silk, dandelions, and goldenrod. [3]

5. The manufacture of rum became early Colonial New England’s largest and most prosperous industry. [4]

6. Tavern owners enjoyed higher social status than did the clergy during part of the Colonial period. [5]

7. A traveler through the Delaware Valley in 1753 compiled a list of the drinks he encountered; all but three of the 48 contained alcohol. [6]

8. The first Kentucky whiskey was made in 1789 by a Baptist minister. [7]

9. The distillation of whiskey led to the first test of federal power, the Whiskey Rebellion (1794). [8]

10. During the Colonial period, alcohol abstainers had to pay one life insurance company rates 10% higher than that of drinkers. Of course, today we know that abstainers tend not to live as long as moderate drinkers. [9]

11. The laws of most American colonies required towns to license suitable persons to sell wine and spirits and failure to do so could result in a fine. [10]

12. Colonial taverns were often required to be located near the church or meetinghouse. [11]

13. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all enjoyed brewing or distilling their own alcohol beverages. [12]

14. The Colonial Army supplied its troops with a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey. [13]

15. Abraham Lincoln held a liquor license and operated several taverns. [14]

16. Religious services and court sessions were often held in the major tavern of Colonial American towns. [15]

17. In the 1830’s the average American aged 15 or older consumed over seven gallons of absolute alcohol (resulting from an average of 9 1/2 gallons of spirits, 1/2 gallon of wine, and 27 gallons of beer), a quantity about three times the current rate. [16]

18. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration of Independence in a tavern in Philadelphia. [17]

19. Every signer of the American Declaration of Independence drank alcoholic beverages. [17a]

20. The first signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock, was an alcohol dealer. [17b]

21. Before he took his famous ride, Paul Revere is reported to have had two drinks of rum. [17c]

22. The patriot Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty or give me death”) was a bar tender. [17d]

23. President Martin Van Buren was born in his father’s tavern. [17e]

24. Alewives in Colonial America brewed a special high proof “groaning ale” for pregnant women to drink during labor. [18]

25. “Root beer” was a temperance product developed in the hope that it would replace beer in popularity… it did not. [19]

Mike Rowe in ‘How Booze Built America’



References and Readings

1. Royce, James E., Alcohol Problems: A Comprehensive Survey. New York: Free Press, 1981, 38.

1.1. The First Thanksgiving. The Community Trader, Manchester, NY, Nov.,1988; www.plimoth.org/Library/Thanksgiving/thanksgi.htm/.

2. Furnas, J. C. The Life and Times of the Late Demon Rum. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1965, p. 20.

3. Mendelson, Jack H. and Mello, Nancy K. Alcohol: Use and Abuse in America. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown & Co., 1985.

4. Roueche, Berton. Alcohol in Human Culture. In: Lucia, Salvatore P. (Ed.) Alcohol and Civilization New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963 pp. 167-182.

5. Krout, John A. The Origins of Prohibition. New York: Knopf, 1925, p. 44.

6. Grimes, William. Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993, pp. 44-45.

7. Lender, Mark E. and Martin, James K. Drinking in America. New York: Free Press, 1982, p. 33; Grimes, William. Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993, pp. 52-53.

8. Grimes, William. Straight Up or On the Rocks: A Cultural History of American Drink. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993, pp. 51-52.

9. Kobler, John. Ardent Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1973, p. 26; Ellison, R. C. Does Moderate Alcohol Consumption Prolong Life? New York: American Council on Science and Health, 1993.

10. Prendergast, Michael L. A History of Alcohol Problem Prevention Efforts in the United States. In: Holder, Harold D. (Ed.) Control Issues in Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Strategies for States and Communities. Greenwich, Connecticut: JAI Press, 1987. Pp. 25-52.

11. Ibid, p. 27.

12. Lender, Mark E. and Martin, James K. Drinking in America. New York: Free Press, 1982, p. 6.

13. Goode, Erich. Drugs in American Society. Boston, Massachusetts: McGraw-Hill, 1999, p. 182.

14. Cowdery, Charles K. Abraham Lincoln, Bourbon Country’s Native Son. The Bourbon Country Reader, 1988, 3 (6), p. 1.

15. Prendergast, Michael L. A History of Alcohol Problem Prevention Efforts in the United States. In: Holder, Harold D. (Ed.) Control Issues in Alcohol Abuse Prevention: Strategies for States and Communities. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1987, pp. 25-52.

16. Clark, N. H. Deliver Us From Evil: An Interpretation of American Prohibition. New York: Norton, 1976, p. 20; Asbury, Herbert. The Great Illusion: An Informal History of Prohibition. New York: Greenwood Press, 1968 (originally published 1950); Rorabaugh, W. J. The Alcoholic Republic. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979, Appendix 1.

17. Barr, A. Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf,1999, p. 370.

17a. Burns, Eric. The Spirit of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004, p. 182.

17b. Burns, Eric. The Spirit of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004, p. 214.

17c. Burns, Eric. The Spirit of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004, p. 27.

17d. Burns, Eric. The Spirit of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004, p. 26.

17e. Burns, Eric. The Spirit of America: A Social History of Alcohol. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004, p. 27.

18. Eames, A. D. Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore & Little-Known Facts. Pownal, Vermont: Storey, 1995.

19. Goshen, C. E. Drinks, Drugs, and Do-Gooders. New York: Free Press, 1973, p. 14.

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