American Temperance Union (Pioneering Temperance Group)

The American Temperance Union (ATU) began in 1836. Its goal was to promote temperance. In doing so it published the Journal of the American Temperance Union for adults. And for young people it published Youth’s Temperance Advocate. In addition the Union published books, reports, pamphlets and other materials. All printings promoted the temperance movement.

Temperance Movement Grew

Within a decade of its founding, there were over 8,000 similar temperance groups with over 1.5 million members.

The American Temperance Union, like most other temperance groups at the time, called for voluntary abstention. And it was from drinking distilled spirits, not from beer and wine. 

American Temperance Union
Standard Drinks

This reflected the myth that distilled spirits are more alcoholic than beer and wine. However, standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits all contain the same amount of alcohol. It’s 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol per drink. This is Alcohol Eqivalence.

With the passage of time temperance groups increasingly pressed for abstention from all alcoholic beverages. That included beer and wine. Next, they pushed for the mandatory prohibition of all alcoholic beverages.They replaced personal voluntary abstinence. Now they wanted the government’s might to forcefully intervene.

Incredibly, many people and groups today support neo-prohibition ideas. And they support the many remainders of Prohibition that still exist. In fact, nearly one of every five U.S. adults favors making drinking alcohol illegal for everyone. Of all ages. And for any reason.

However, not even National Prohibition (1920-1933) made drinking alcohol illegal! Discover what it made illegal and what it didn’t. You’ll be surprised.

Resources – American Temperance Union

Books & Journals

Also visit Alcohol Trivia about drinks, people, laws, traditions, etc. It’s fun!

  • ATU. J Am Temp Union. Philadelphia: ATU, 1837-1857.
  • ___. Youth’s Temperance Advocate. NY: ATU, 1839-1860.
  • ___. Almanac of the ATU for 1842. NY, ATU, 1841. Also for 1842 and 1843.
  • ___. Report of the Executive Committee of the ATU, 1839. Philadelphia: Benedict, 1839. Also for 1840, 1845, 1848, 1849, and 1853.
  • ___. The Test of wine, Beer, and Cider Drinking, and Tobacco. The Test of Experience. NY: ATU, 1863.
  • Cherrington, E. (ed.) Standard Encyclopedia of the Alcohol Problem. Westerville, OH: Am Issur, 1924-30 (6 v).

Web Pages: Temperance & Prohibition