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.

American Temperance Union

The ATU, 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. But standard drinks of beer, wine and distilled spirits all contain the same amount of pure alcohol. It’s six-tenths of an ounce 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.

The temperance movement didn’t really fail. Nor did Prohibition! Today nearly one in five U.S. adults favors making drinking alcohol illegal for everyone. Of all ages. And for any reason.

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

From the ATU
    • ATU. J Am Temp Union, 1837-1857.
    • ___. Youth’s Temperance Advocate, 1839-1860.
    • ___. Almanac of the ATU for 1841. Also for 1842 and 1843.
    • ___. Report of the ATU, 1839. Also for 1840, 1845, 1848, 1849, and 1853.
    • ___. The Test of Experience, 1863.

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