The Emergence of Temperance
From 1800 to 1900
Temperance thought began emerging during the 1800s. Following the Revolutionary War, numerous problems were associated with rapidly the growing industrialization, urbanization and social changes. Alcohol and temperance became the focal point of a cultural war between different life styles and values; small town versus cities, “Old Americans” versus immigrants, the South versus the Northeast, Protestantism versus Catholicism and Judaism, and so on.
With the breakdown of social norms that discouraging alcohol abuse, heavy drinking became much more common and caused numerous problems. And although alcohol abuse caused problems, it came to be seen as the primary cause, rather than largely the result, of societal changes and problems.
Drinking excessively tended not to be a problem on a farm, but was inconsistent with the growing need for factory workers who followed the clock rather the level of sunlight or the seasonal needs of agriculture. Employers wanted reliable and sober workers who would show up on time and not get hurt on the job.
Protestant churches began to view the substance of alcohol itself as evil and its consumption, even in moderation, as a sin. This, combined with a growing women’s movement that stressed the protection of domestic life from partner violence, child neglect, and lost wages, thus strengthened the movement into a religious and moral crusade.
Note: This timeline presents events in the history of alcohol and drinking during the 19th Century, in chronological order. When events are listed as having occurred within a period of time, such as 1870s, they are listed before more specifically dated events, such as 1873.
- Early in the 1800s, French chemist Jean-Autoine Chaptal recommended adding sugar to the must before or during fermentation to increase the alcohol content without affecting the taste of the resulting wine. The process, which is legal in France, is called Chaptalization1
- While drunkenness was still an accepted part of life in the eighteenth century,2 the nineteenth century brought a change in attitudes as a result of increasing industrialization and the need for a reliable and punctual work force.3 Self-discipline was needed in place of self-expression, and task orientation had to replace relaxed conviviality. Drunkenness would come to be defined as a threat to industrial efficiency and growth.
- In Australia, “Spirits drinking dominated the colonial period in the absence of a native brewing or distilling industry and because of technical difficulties in importing any alcohol other than spirits. The emergence of a local brewing industry and improvements in the transportation of beer in the late 1800s encouraged a transition from a spirits-drinking to a beer-drinking culture.”4
- In the early nineteenth century the consumption of spirits dominated drinking in the U.S.5
- The continuous still was developed, which made the distilling process cheaper and easier to control.6
- “The mid-1800s witnessed the birth of the first temperance movement in Poland. A specific feature of Polish temperance was its combined religious and national character.”7
- “Until the mid-nineteenth century, virtually all sparkling wine was sweet.”8
- Problems commonly associated with industrialization and rapid urbanization were attributed to alcohol. Thus, problems such as urban crime, poverty and high infant mortality rates were blamed on alcohol, although "it is likely that gross overcrowding and unemployment had much to do with these problems."9
- More and more personal, social and religious/moral problems were blamed on alcohol. And not only was it enough to prevent drunkenness; any consumption of alcohol came to be seen as unacceptable. Groups that began by promoting temperance - the moderate use of alcohol - became abolitionist and pressed for the complete and total prohibition of the production and distribution of beverage alcohol.10
- Until the 1870s snaps, a distilled spirit, was included as part of wages in Denmark.11
- In the 1890, the movement for the independence of India began. It combined nationalism with prohibition goals.12
- In the 1890s, an influential temperance movement developed in Iceland.13
By 1803 cocktails appear to have been invented. The first published reference to the cocktail appeared in the Farmer's Cabinet (Amherst, New Hampshire, April 28, 1803) and the first published definition appeared in The Balance and Columbian Repository of 1806 as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.” 14
- As early as 1804, temperance organizations began in the Netherlands.15
- British physician Thomas Trotter suggested that chronic drunkenness was a disease.16
- Absinthe was introduced into France and subsequently became very popular for many decades.17 Subsequently, absinthe used to be found wherever there was French Culture (New Orleans, the French colonies, and so on).18
- “Hops first had been cultivated in the colony [Australia] by James Squire, an emancipated convict, in 1805....”19
- Oktoberfest established in Munich as an annual event.20
- “In 1810 federal statistics show that the six main whiskey-producing states together distilled twice as many gallons of whiskey per annum as there were people in America. Ten years later, the national per capita consumption had risen to more than five gallons per head per annum.”21
The first vineyard was planted in Canada.22
The first commercial winery in New Zealand was built.23
The Ashante (who lived in what is now called Ghana) produced substantial quantities of palm wine.24
Temperance societies were established in a number of countries beginning in 1819 with the founding of such an organization in Sweden and one in the United States in 1826. In 1830, temperance societies were founded in Ireland and Germany and in the following year societies were established in England and in Scotland. This was followed by the formation of temperance organizations in Australia (1832), India (1835), New Zealand (1836), South Africa (1838), Norway (1840), Denmark (1840), Bermuda (1841), Jamaica (1841), The Netherlands (1842), Poland (1844), Hawaii (1847), Finland (1883), and Japan (1909). In 1837 a temperance society was established in France “but it never made much progress,” apparently because the French saw inebriation as a problem caused by Protestantism.25
- “By the 1820s New South Wales was also producing wine” that won silver (1822) and gold (1828) medals at the Royal Society of Art in London.26
- Vines were planted in Tasmania early in the 1820s.27
Sparkling wine production, which continues, began in Slovakia.28
Vines were planted in Western Australia.29
- “The 1830 Beer Act allowed any ratepayer to buy a licence to brew and sell beer” in England.
- The revolution of 1830 in France caused a reduction in the demand for wine and its price.30
Abraham Lincoln, who would later become President of the U.S., held a liquor license (1833) and operated several taverns.31
- The Guinness brewery had grown to become the largest in Ireland.32
- South African vineyards experienced economic difficulties after England passed the Slavery Abolition Act.33
- Spirits consumption in England was 0.53 gallons per capita, in Ireland it was 1.32 gallons, in Scotland it was 2.46, and in Australia it was 5.02.34
- Maine passed its Fifteen Gallon Law designed to reduce the availability of distilled spirits by making that the minimum legal purchase quantity.35
- The first successfully produced commercial wine in the U.S. was made of Catawba grapes by Nicholas Longworth in Cincinnati, Ohio.36
- Wines were produced in New Zealand beginning in the 1840.37
Before the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand in 1840, the indigenous Maori had no alcoholic beverages of any form.38
Pilsner was first created in the Czech city of Plzen by a Bavarian brewmaster named Josef Groll.39
- A rabbi founded the first winery in Israel in modern times.40
- The first truly dry or brut Champagne wasn’t produced until an English merchant ordered some without sugar added. The curiosity proved to be popular with customers.41
Swedish physician Magnus Huss coined term “alcoholism” and described what he considered to be the disease of Alcoholismus chronicus.42
- Local regulation of liquor sales and consumption began in Sweden, followed by national action in1855.43
- Dr. Johann Siegert began exporting bitters from Angostura, Venezuela.44
- Dry gin was developed in London.45
“The latter half of the nineteenth century became the golden age of the saloon.”46
The Woman’s New York State Temperance Society was founded by Susan B. Anthony and Mary C. Vaughn, former Daughters of Temperance members, who had been prevented from speaking at the Sons of Temperance convention in Albany in 1852 because of their gender.47 The
United Kingdom Alliance (UKA) was founded in 1853 “to outlaw all trading in intoxicating drinks.”48
The 1855 Classification of Bordeaux wines was created at the request of Napoleon. The Chamber of Commerce participated and asked wine dealers to compile a list of the best producers of wine, which they did based on the market prices of the wines.49
Funded by a distiller, Louis Pasteur investigated the process of fermentation and isolated yeast, a major discovery in the field of alcohol production.50
Vines were planted in Queensland.51
- Irish distillers began to blend whiskey.52
- Patent No. 27,615 was granted to M.L. Byrn of New York, N.Y. for a corkscrew in 1860.553
- There were 1,138 legal stills operating in the U.S. producing 88 million gallons of distilled spirits per year.54
- Although South African wines flourished in the nineteenth century while the country was a British colony, sales there plummeted and a decline in viticulture set in after Britain lowered tariffs on French wine.55
- The Single Bottle Act of 1861 in Britain allowed retailers, upon paying a relatively small license fee, to sell wine for consumption “off” or away from the premises.56
- Burgundy created a wine classification system.57
Phylloxera vastatrix, a grape vine parasite spread from the U.S., where native vines were resistant, to England. From there it spread to Bordeaux two years later and migrated all over Europe, Australia, and elsewhere. In the 1870s it spread across French vineyards at the rate of about 40 miles per year and devastated wine production. The infestation threatened to destroy the entire European wine industry.58
Anstie's limit (Anstie's rule or Ansties alcohol limit) refers to the amount of alcohol that Francis E. Anstie, M.D., (1833-1874) believed, on the basis of his research, could be consumed daily with no ill effects. It is 1.5 ounces of pure ethanol, equivalent to two and one-half standard drinks of beer, wine or distilled spirits.59
- Finland outlawed home production of spirits, prohibited rural sales and limited urban sales.60
- The Swedish city of Gothenburg awarded a retail spirits license to a single company run as a trust. Five percent of the profit of the trust went to the shareholders with 95% going to the city government. The System is soon adopted by other cities in Sweden.61
After the American Civil War (1861-1865) beer replaced whiskey as preferred beverage of working men.62
- Birth of Wayne Bidwell Wheeler, who became the de facto leader of the Anti-Saloon League and wielded awesome power, as described by one historian: “Wayne B. Wheeler controlled six congresses, dictated to two presidents of the United States, directed legislation in most of the States of the Union, picked the candidates for the more important elective and federal offices, held the balance of power in both Republican and Democratic parties, distributed more patronage than any dozen other men, supervised a federal bureau from outside without official authority, and was recognized by friend and foe alike as the most masterful and powerful single individual in the United States “(Steuart, p. 11).63
- The Prohibition Party was founded in the U.S. It is the oldest “third party” in the US and has nominated a candidate for president of the US in every election since 1872.64
Wine production became well established in Cape Verde.65
“it was not until around 1870 that grapes in Japan were used to make wine, when Hironori Yamada and Norihisa Takuma set up a winemaking enterprise in Kofu, Yamanashi.”66
- The wine industry in Uruguay began when the Tannat grape was introduced into the country by Don Pascual Harriague, a Basque.67
- “In 1870, exactly a third of all British national tax revenues derived from the manufacture and sale of alcoholic drinks.”68
- The American Association for the Study and Cure of Inebriety was founded and published a journal promoting the disease theory of alcoholism.69
A Licensing Act was passed in the UK that restricted hours of alcohol beverage sale in England and Wales.70
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) was founded in Cleveland, Ohio. The correct name is “woman’s” rather than “women’s.71
The WCTU’s Department of Scientific Temperance taught as scientifically proved fact that
- The majority of beer drinkers die from dropsy. (An old term for edema, or swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water.)
- [Alcohol] turns the blood to water.
- [Referring to invalids.] A man who never drinks liquor will get well, where a drinking man would surely die.72
Dr. Diocletian Lewis, a Boston minister, led the Woman’s Temperance Crusade of 1873-1874.73
Prime Minister Gladstone lost his seat in Parliament when he attempted to restrict gin consumption.74
“In 1875, French absynthe drinkers downed approximately 185,000 gallons of the stuff; by 1910, that figure had increased to an astonishing 9,500 gallons.”75
Beer was pasteurized years before milk benefitted from the process.76
Beer was first pasteurized.77
By the 1870s, the temperance movement exerted great influence in American life and culture, as this example illustrates.
In the Currier and Ives print of 1848, George Washington bid farewell to his officers with a toast in his hand and a supply of liquor on the table.
Reflecting the power of the temperance movement, a re-engraved version in 1876 removed all evidence of alcohol. Gone is the glass from Washington's hand and the liquor supply is replaced with a hat.
Downey (as distinct from powdery) mildew appeared in France and began devastating vineyards by killing green parts of the vines.79
Dr. Leslie Keeley, an American physician who asserted that “alcoholism is a disease and I can cure it,” established his first “bicloride of gold” injection treatment center. He sold franchises for over 200 centers around the world and died a millionaire (worth about $25,000,000 in today’s purchasing power.) He claimed that 95% of the patients were permanently cured. When former patients resumed drinking, he insisted that they were cured of their disease, but drank because they chose to do so.80
- During the 1880s, a number of U.S. states adopted state-wide prohibition within their borders.81 National Prohibition of Alcohol in the US describes this subject in more detail.
- Absinthe became very popular in France in the 1880s when failing grape crops resulted in absinthe becoming cheaper than wine.82
- “...in the 1880s, after vine diseases devastated the Peruvian vineyards, production moved south to Chile....”83
- The Guinness brewery had grown to become the largest in the world.84
- Halfway through the decade, “black rot” appeared in French vineyards and attacked the leaves, shoots and individual grapes.85
- The first beer filter was developed by German inventer Lorenz Enginger, who developed a superior version in the 1900s.86
- “By 1880, Rioja was enjoying an economic boom, with new money financing new construction, a new railway providing easy transport, and new bodegas putting all sorts of new ideas into practice.”87
- It was discovered that French grape vines grafted onto American rootstock resisted the deadly phylloxera parasite. By the end of the century most French vines were grafted onto American rootstock and today virtually all vineyards around the world are grafted onto American rootstock.88
- After the French invaded Tunisia, large-scale wine production began.89
The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began a successful campaign, under the direction of Mary H. Hunt, to require anti-alcohol education in every state in the U.S. as well as its territories and possessions.90
In Denmark, Emil Hansen isolated the first single-cell yeast culture. This enabled brewers to select those strains that made good beer and ensured brand consistency by eliminating undesirable yeast strains.91
The production of significant quantities of quality wines began in Argentina with the opening of a railroad linking the city of Mendoza with Buenos Aires.92
Coca-Cola was introduced as a temperance beverage.93
- The Ohio Anti-Saloon League was founded and two years later became the Anti-Saloon League of America.94
- A group of scholars formed the prestigious Committee of Fifty for the Investigation of the Liquor Problem. A subcommittee, headed by faculty from Harvard and Clark University, found the WCTU's program of temperance instruction seriously defective. The investigators concluded that "under the name of ‘Scientific Temperance Instruction' there has been grafted upon the public school system of nearly all our States an educational scheme relating to alcohol which is neither scientific, nor temperate, nor instructive."95
- In New Zealand, beginning in 1894, “a series of local-option no-license areas began to be voted in, and restrictions on the circumstances of the sale of liquor were put in place, such as no barmaids in hotels (1912), no sales after 6 P.M. (a 1917 ‘temporary war measure’ that lasted until 1967), and no liquor at dances (1939).”96
- In Finland drunkenness was seen as a major problem among unskilled urban laborers and a prohibition movement developed.97
- Seven of the largest wine companies formed the California Wine Association and came to control about 80%of the state’s production.98
- The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) began a very damaging three year national boycott in the U.S. against root beer because it falsely assumed that the beverage was alcoholic. It abandoned the boycott in 1898 after an independent lab analysis reported that a bottle of root beer contained about the same amount of alcohol as half a loaf of bread.99
- Wine fraud had always been a serious problem. In 1895, the American consul in Le Havre reported to his superiors in Washington that a great deal of what was being shipped as French wine had little or no connection with French grapes.100
To learn more about alcohol and drinking after the Emergence of Temperance, visit
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