Alcohol has always been an important part of American life since the first European settlers landed. Indeed, the Mayflower cut short her voyage and landed early. The reason? The supply of beer on board was running low. Discover little-known facts about politicians and alcohol. And share your new trivia with friends!
Politicians and Alcohol
- Paul Revere is reported to have had two drinks of rum before making his historic ride.1
- Patrick Henry was a bar tender.2
- Thomas Jefferson drafted Declaration of Independence in a tavern.3
- Every delegate who signed the Declaration of Independence was an alcohol drinker.4
- The first to sign the Declaration, John Hancock, was an alcohol dealer.5
- After they finished drafting the U.S. Constitution, the 55 delegates held a party. They drank eight bottles of whiskey, 60 bottles of claret, 54 bottles of Madeira, 22 bottles of port, 12 bottles of beer, and eight bottles of hard cider. They also had seven bowls of alcoholic punch. The bowls were so big that ‘ducks could swim in them.’6
Enjoy these too!
- Martha Washington began happy hour at three o’clock in the afternoon. She served cocktails until dinner in the evening.7
- George Washington was the largest distiller in the new US. In 1799, his distillery operated year round. It produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey. There were about 3,500 distilleries at that time in Virginia alone. His was truly enormous.8
- Thomas Jefferson became the new nation’s first major wine authority and promoter.9
- George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin all made alcoholic beverages.10
- President Van Buren was born in his parents’ tavern.11
- Long before he became president, Abraham Lincoln held a liquor license and sold whiskey in several places.12 One of his licenses, dated 1833, can be seen in Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.13
- Lincoln said “It has long been recognized that the problems with alcohol relate not to the use of a bad thing, but to the abuse of a good thing.”14
- President Lincoln was told that General Grant was drinking whiskey while leading troops. Lincoln is reported to have said “Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals.”15
- President Hayes’ wife, Lucy, is best known as ‘Lemonade Lucy.’ As a temperance supporter, she prohibited any alcohol in the White House. The President approved because it won him votes.16
- National Prohibition in the U.S. lasted from 1920 until 1933. The ‘Father of Prohibition,’ Congressman Andrew Volstead, was voted out of office soon after Prohibition went into effect.17
- The best-known bootlegger selling illegal alcohol in the House of Representatives was George L. Cassiday. He was called ‘the man in the green hat.’17a
- Cocktails were sometimes drunk in Congress between sessions on Prohibition issues.17b
- President Warren Harding had voted against Prohibition as a senator. However, as President, he served alcohol in the White House. Hypocrisy was rampant during Prohibition.17c
- Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York City mailed winemaking instructions to his constituents.17d
- The Speaker of the US House of Representatives owned an illegal still.18
- Franklin Roosevelt promised to end Prohibition. This helped him win the presidency in 1932.19
- “What America needs now is a drink” said President Roosevelt at the end of Prohibition.20
Kansas maintained state-wide prohibition after National Prohibition. The state Attorney General insisted that drinking on an airliner flying in federal airspace over Kansas was illegal. That’s because Kansas had state-wide prohibition. He insisted that Kansas “goes all the way up and all the way down.” He was ridiculed in legal circles.21
- Adolf Hitler was one of the best known alcohol abstainers in the world. Sir Winston Churchill, his successful enemy, was one of the best known heavy drinkers in the world.22
- President Carter’s mother said “I’m a Christian, but that doesn’t mean I’m a long-faced square. I like a little bourbon.”23
- President Carter’s brother, Billy, launched and promoted ‘Billy Beer.’24
- Several former presidents and their favorite drinks.
- Herbert Hoover – Martini.
- Franklin Roosevelt – Scotch, brandy or Dirty Martini.
- Harry Truman – Bourbon.
- Richard Nixon- Rum and coke.
- Lyndon Johnson – Scotch and soda.
- Gerald Ford – Gin and tonic.25
- President Johnson would ride around his Texas ranch in an open convertible in hot weather. He drank his “scotch and soda out of a large white plastic foam cup. Periodically, Johnson would slow down and hold his left arm outside the car, shaking the cup and ice. A Secret Service agent would run up to the car, take the cup and go back to the station wagon. (It slowly followed the President’s car). There another agent would refill it with ice, scotch, and soda as the first agent trotted behind the wagon. Then the first agent would run the refilled cup up to LBJ’s outstretched hand. All the while the President’s car moved slowly forward.”26
- The National Institutes of Health paid for a study. It found moderate drinkers were much less likely to have heart attacks than abstainers. It prohibited the researchers from publishing the results. It claimed the findings were “socially undesirable.”27
- The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau restricts First Amendment free speech. It prohibit alcohol producers from distributing any scientific medical facts on health effects of moderate drinking.28
A Trivial Word 0n Trivia
Trivia is the plural of the Latin trivium. More than one bar trivium become alcohol word trivia. So, “Thomas Jefferson drafted the American Declaration of Independence in a tavern” is a “politicians and alcohol” trivium. But this collection is politicians and alcohol trivia. So, should it be “Politicians and alcohol trivia is fun!”? Or “Politicians and alcohol trivia are fun!”?
For Fans of Politicians and Alcohol Trivia
1 Burns, E. The Spirit of America. Philadelphia, PA: Temple U. Press, 2004, p. 27.
2 Burns, E., p. 26.
3 Barr, A. Drink. NY: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 370.
4 Burns, E., p. 182.
5 Burns, E., p. 214.
6 Lendler, I. Alcoholica Esoterica. NY: Penguin, 2005.
7 Haught, R.L. Distilling the truth about George. Oklahoman, 2-20-03.
8 Head, T. First in war, first in peace, first in whiskey. Southern Folkways Alliance. June 14, 2005.
10 Lender, M. and Martin, J. Drinking in America. NY: Free Press, 1982, p. 6.
11 Burns, E., p. 27.
12 Cowdery, C. Abraham Lincoln, Bourbon Country’s Native Son. The Bourbon Country Reader, 1988, 3(6), p. 1.
13 Museum details history of bourbon. Post-Gazette, April 23, 2007.
14 Movva, R., and Figueredo, V. Alcohol and the heart. Int. J. Cardiology, 2013, 164(3), 267-276.
15 Great Moments in the History of Hooch
16 Lucy Hayes
17 Kizilos, P. The man behind the act. Am Hist., 2001, 35(6), 50.
17b Jennings, P. World News Tonight. ABC-TV network, January, 29. 1999.
17c Esteicher, S.K. Wine from Neolithic Times to the 21st Century. NY: Algora, 2006, p. 115.
22 Aaron, P., and Musto, D. Temperance and Prohibition in America. In: Moore, M.H., and Gerstein, D.R. (Eds.) Alcohol and Public Policy. Washington, DC: NAP, 1981, p. 159.
18 Jennings, P., ibid.
20 Cheers to Repeal Day
21 Hendricks, M. Liquor laws live up to state motto. Kansas City Star, 4-7-03, B1.
22 Hoffmann, H. Hitler vie ihn Keiner Kennt. Berlin: Zeitgeschichte Verlag, 1932.
23 Elliott, P. 100 Proof. NY: Penguin, 2000, p. 4.
24 Billy Carter
25 The spirit of Washington. Elk Grove Citizen, 2-19-03.
26 Califano, J. quoted in Presidential Vehicles. National Park Service website, .
27 Conflicts of interest and political science. J. Clin. Epi., 1997, 50, 627-629.
28 New York Times, March 6, 1991.
These politicians and alcohol trivia are all from original sources.