This is part one in a series recounting the history of drinking in America leading up to Prohibition. While we hear a lot about the consumption of alcohol during Prohibition, seldom discussed is the importance of alcohol (and its consumption) at earlier dates in American history. This research was very interesting and I hope you enjoy it!
The creation and consumption of alcohol has played an important and notable role in American life and politics. In colonial America, the consumption and production of alcohol was a large part of daily life – dominating politics, economics, and social life. The framers celebrated the completion of the Constitution with drink, and saloons served as political meeting places during the Jacksonian Era. The production, sale, and consumption of alcohol in America was not without controversy. While alcohol was celebrated by many, others believed it negatively impacted society.
The American passion and desire for drink is as old as the colonies themselves. On the Mayflower, pilgrims drank barrel after barrel of beer, for a multitude of reasons. Unlike water, beer could be barreled and kept at sea without spoiling. In addition, prevailing ideas about alcohol in the Seventeenth Century lead many Europeans to drink for health reasons. “A stiff drink warmed a person on cold nights and kept off chills and fevers; a few glasses made hard work easier to bear, aided digestion, and in general helped sustain constitution. Abstinence invited trouble.”